A close up photo of Megan Adams, Student Mentor Project Officer at LOOK. She is wearing a rainbow striped sweater and has long brown hair and round wire framed glasses.

Student Hub: Supporting VI students

Welcome to our new resource hub for visually impaired students. We begin with a mini series studying STEM subjects & a shout out for Student Mentors.

Welcome to our new hub for visually impaired students. 

Over the summer we will be developing this dynamic resource hub of resources into a fully-fledged page for visually impaired students, guardians and educators. It will be packed full of support aimed at helping visually impaired students with your journey to – and through – university, as well as some information about post-university careers. 

This space will contain video, audio and text, all created by visually impaired Mentors and the team at LOOK. It is for anyone who wants advice, and to learn from lived experience as VI uni students.

For VI young people preparing to go to uni, there will be a timeline, an interactive roadmap with detailed advice about each stage, including advice from professionals. We will also have links to the amazing resources available from Thomas Pocklington Trust, RNIB, and other organisations.

Before we launch the new Student Hub page in August, we will be posting teaser content on here.

New content will be posted each week, so please keep checking back in, and share the link with others: www.look-uk.org/studenthub

Please send me a message if there are things you want us to cover, or have questions related to being a VI student and life at uni. Do also let us know if you find these resources helpful, or there are things we can improve. Feedback is good! Drop me an email at info@look-uk.org

Megan Adams, Student Mentor Project Officer, LOOK

Q&A with Mentor Chris

Are you a VI student about to move into the world of work? This one’s for you. We caught up with Chris, a LOOK Mentor, to ask him some quick questions about his experience as a young VI graduate moving into his teaching career. Click on the link below to read Megan’s short interview with Chris.

Student Mentors

Our LOOK Mentor Project currently has 130 trained volunteer Mentors, sharing their life hacks and experience with younger VI people. This summer we are going to be recruiting VI graduates specifically to mentor visually impaired young people in Year 13 or in their 1st Year at university. This six-month mentoring programme will begin in Autumn 2023. The Student Mentors will be graduates with recent uni experience, able to discuss all aspects of making the most of uni life. They will be in touch with their mentees via written messages and regular Zoom meetings. To find out more about our LOOK Mentor Project go to: www.look-uk.org/mentoring

If you are a recent VI graduate and interested in getting involved, please contact megana@look-uk.org by August 2023.

Focus on STEM

In this mini series, LOOK’s Student Mentor Officer Megan asks questions about what it’s like to be visually impaired and working in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths).

First up, LOOK Mentor Aure shares her experience. This 20 minute video gives very interesting insights into Aure’s journey as an undergraduate, graduate and post graduate science student, and as an international student with a visual impairment.

Aure has Albinism and is partially sighted. She is originally from Luxembourg and came to the UK to do an undergraduate degree in Natural Sciences at Cambridge University. She then did a Masters followed by PhD in Immunology. She now works as a researcher in a lab in Oxford, working on developing a vaccine against HIV. See her research project profile here. Aure plays Goalball in her spare time.

Other resources (produced by LOOK and by other organisations) related to studying STEM subjects as a VI student:

Short read: Britain’s first deaf blind medical student

Watch: LOOK into…being a VI scientist

Read / listen: What is it like to study Chemistry?

Watch: Being a VI medical student

The next instalment of our mini series with a focus on STEM will be posted very soon.

Thank you to Thomas Pocklington Trust for supporting our student mentoring project.

Home or Away?

We asked some of our mentors what they thought about moving out vs living at home for university.

Photograph of LOOK Mentor Abi out on a hike in front of a cascading waterfall.

Mentor Abi is studying Product Design Engineering at Queen’s University Belfast. She is originally from the south east of England so this was a huge change. Abi said:

‘It wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be, it was actually really fun. I originally thought I would end up in uni in England but there were only about 5 unis that were doing the course I wanted to do when I was looking. I ended up at Belfast. Belfast, the Uni and everything about it so far has been amazing. The best part about moving cities is probably meeting with the new people, the culture, the accents and exploring everything as well. 

Moving away was a little bit daunting to begin with. My parents were a little bit concerned at how far away it was because if there were any problems they couldn’t drive straight and get me or anything. So that was probably what I found the most scary, being so far away by myself. But being on my own didn’t become a problem at all, because everyone else who came to my university was new to Belfast. You build your own support network in the same way that you would if you were in the same country.

As well as moving, there were a lot of new activities that I never really done by myself before. I knew how to do things, like shopping. At home I would go with my parents on a family shopping trip and I did a lot of cooking at home. I was worried about that before I moved to Uni but when I got there it wasn’t a problem. Cooking chicken seems terrifying but you kind of figure out how to do it. I’ve gone from checking my chicken every like five minutes to being confident and eating it knowing that it’s safe because I know exactly how long it’s been cooked.

And shopping, so I moved house for second year and Tesco was the biggest shop closest to us. At first, I couldn’t really work out why but I couldn’t find anything I needed. I can’t see the shop and realise I actually go by colour and familiarity. In Tesco, I know where everything. If you can keep the familiarity it will make it a lot easier if you can go by the brands in the shop. A lot of it is exploring new things and branching out and also reading at least in my experience.


Mentor Natalie is from Scotland and moved to York to go to university, she said: 

‘I had every intention of leaving home for uni because I’m very independent and very strong willed and ever since I was very small I knew I wanted to leave home for university. Losing my sight didn’t change that, I still wanted to. I was scared and nervous, I wondered how I would cope with a lot of things but I also thought that I would have to deal with those things at some time so why not now?

The hardest part about moving was nobody I made friends with initially understood the underlying impact of being VI and everything I was going through. What annoyed me were comments like “Are you now getting the support you need, are you now getting extra time or whatever?” I’m entitled to help and support but what I want is just the basics- if everyone else is getting reading materials then why aren’t I getting them? That frustration on top of everything else is hard. At the start of uni when you’re meeting new people there is a pressure to be positive. Like you can moan about the course but you have to keep it within boundaries with new people whereas with your family and home friends you can let your guard down a bit. That was really hard.

You also don’t want every conversation to be about your VI but the trouble is the frustration of people not understanding, like friends wandering off. When I was doing the trampolining club the hardest part about it was finding the club. It was on the other end of campus and awkward to get to. I had a problem getting there every time, I started posting on the facebook group asking if anyone was going that way but I thought, why am i having to ask? Why hasn’t it occurred to anyone that if I appreciate a hand getting back from the hall then I would appreciate a hand getting there? 

In my first year I went to uni halls because I thought that’s how I would meet people and it was easier because it was on campus which was the right call. I also had the option of doing catered accommodation so Monday to Friday I got breakfast and dinner provided so I only had to sort lunches and the weekends which took the pressure off when you have so much going on, it’s one less thing to think about. 

I made friends with a group of girls who would go to breakfast in their pyjamas every day at 8am. I made a point of getting up so I could go and have breakfast with them. That was 2015, one of them lives in Reading and I live in Glasgow but we speak every other week and see eachother 2 or 3 times a year. 

I think if you are visually impaired, it’s even more important that you move out for university. Because it’s a safe environment to get things wrong and learn because everyone is also learning. I set off the flat smoke alarm once but so did everyone else in the flat. It’s what students do.”

Thank you for visiting this page. Our new Student Hub is a work in progress and we are going to be adding to it each week through the summer. Please keep checking back in and share the link with others:


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