Visually impaired physiotherapy students' perception of support while studying at a tertiary institution

  • Tania Steyl

Abstract

Introduction:
Acquiring higher education is a difficult task for most normally sighted individuals. Realizing the importance of the visual system in the learning process, it becomes apparent that visually impaired (VI) students could be challenged in their educational pursuit without the necessary support. Since
the inception of the UWC program for VI physiotherapy students in 1996, seven students have successfully completed the course to date.

Aim:
The aim of the study was to explore VI students' perceptions of support during their studies at the Physiotherapy (PT) Department of UWC, South Africa.

Methods:
A qualitative study design was mainly used for this study. The study incorporated purposive sampling. Four (4) pre-determined themes and one (1) emerging theme were identified.

Results:
The responses of the participants to the support given by the PT Department were mainly positive. The role of the mentor for VI students and the Disability Officer proved to be invaluable.   VI students in tertiary education might face difficulties unless certain steps are taken to minimise such difficulties.

Conclusion:
By employing some simple techniques when teaching VI students as well as giving them the necessary support during their educational journey, the learning environment can be greatly enhanced. Adoption of such techniques can mean the difference between success and failure for students with disabilities.

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