Student Voice in the Houses of Parliament

On the 20 March 2024, our Student Voices Volunteer, Aleks, joined the Education team at Thomas Pocklington Trust’s (TPT) Parliamentary event to promote the work we do and highlight the barriers faced by blind and partially sighted young people through education.

Read how the day unfolded for Aleks and how being a Student Voices volunteer has given him the opportunity to participate in such exciting experiences.


When I was offered to participate in TPT’s ‘Can You See Us?’ event at Parliament, I immediately said yes! It seemed so exciting, yet nerve-wracking. Still, I totally did not imagine it to be the way it turned out.

The mission

I joined the amazing Krupali and Lucy from TPT’s Education team. The mission was to showcase a variety of struggles we face as blind and partially sighted students in college and university. Together we prepared examples of accessible and inaccessible study materials for MPs to try themselves. We even had a Braille version of a GCSE Maths exam paper which looked quite frightening, although mainly because… it was maths!

The build-up

We met with some of TPT’s and Sight Loss Councils’ (SLC) members right outside of the Houses of Parliament and straight away you could sense the excitement in the air with a little blend of the guide dog smell, of course!

The rest of the team had been already inside. Together, we went to a large empty room which soon was filled with TPT logos, crazy cool tech, accessibility equipment and a lot of guide dogs! Oh, and we also secretly had chocolates which we did not share with the MPs, Shhh!

My teammates, Krupali and Lucy had prepared our “Education team” stall with the 3D models and Braille exam papers. We were all ready to enlighten the MPs and those who dared to challenge themselves with mathematical questions.

What I brought to the table

As a part of the Student Voices, my key role was to provide real-life examples of the issues faced by blind and partially sighted students from my personal experience. Being severely sight-impaired myself, there were plenty of bumps in my education path. By articulating real-life examples of common issues, we hoped it would be taken into consideration to help prevent future generations from experiencing similar difficulties.

Expectations versus reality

I always assumed political figures to be disconnected from real people, unaware, and maybe even a bit snobbish. Consequently, I found it challenging to escape my assumptions and build “the not-so-great expectations” of politicians.

Nevertheless, don’t judge a book by its cover and never suppose anything. The great majority showed genuine care and willingness to support the cause. A lot of MPs asked dozens of questions, attempted to read Braille or cracked down on how screen readers work.

We mainly focussed on themes such as the Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) reforms, access to specialist support workers, inaccessibility of educational websites and the lack of assistive tech training.

Straight away, some MPs asked how they could help and promised to report it back to their local Further Education (FE) institutions, some said that they raised similar issues during their work.

Most significantly, the MPs with experience within the education field showed proactiveness and relatively solid prior knowledge of the common issues faced by blind and partially sighted people in education. Some MPs even shared their contact details and showed their interest in working closely with TPT.

Their enthusiasm certainly gave hope for a better future which undoubtedly made the event worthwhile.

To close, never turn down an opportunity to raise awareness. You never know how it will impact, sometimes an impact can have only a little effect, but occasionally it can lead to a start of a change. I am honoured and glad to join TPT on that little adventure and I look forward to more events like this.

Get involved!

If you would like to make a positive impact like Aleks, check out our Become a Student Voices or Young Voices volunteer page and get involved!

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