I have cortical visual impairment (CVI), a decreased visual response due to a neurological problem affecting the visual part of my brain.
I also have a highly accurate memory, enhanced hearing, and a brain that works faster than most to solve complex problems in anything from theoretical physics to philosophy.
What is important to note is that I am far from unique.
If we look firstly at just those students with dyspraxia, we have a representation of between two and six per cent of the population. If we add to this the 10 to 15 per cent of the US population who are dyslexic, and the numerous obstructed readers and writers you start to realise that we are not talking about a small audience that can be ignored because schools and colleges don’t have time to address their learning needs.
It is imperative to the education of hundreds of thousands of students across the country and millions of students around the world that the techniques of Universal Design are brought to bear on the unjust barriers many students face in attempting to navigate the educational landscape under the status quo.
But do educators know how to support our requirements?
If I had to sum up my needs in one phrase it would be that I am an auditory learner.
My diversities mean that while I have hundreds of thoughts spinning around in my head, I am unable to translate these into written copy. Giving me a book to read and asking me to write a review is a huge challenge.
There are, of course, support services for a proportion of students for whom this format doesn’t work.
Using audio books, listening to an appointed reader, or hearing the synthesized voice of a screen-reader are all tools I have used. I have dictated every word I have ever written, either to a scribe, or to dictation software.