New Support Service for Students with Vision Impairment

Date posted: 21st April 2020

Starting university can be daunting for someone with vision impairment, and is likely to prove even more challenging during the current pandemic – but help is at hand from the new Student Support Service from Thomas Pocklington Trust (TPT).

TPT has launched the new service to help vision impaired students entering Further or Higher Education not just during the COVID-19 pandemic but to provide ongoing support. It provides resources and guidance to help students navigate this life-changing period – and forge positive networks with people in similar situations.

Tara Chattaway, Student Support Service Manager at TPT, said: “We know it can be challenging under normal circumstances for anyone with vision impairment to go through an enormous change like starting at university, but in the current crisis it is going to be even more difficult.

“Within the wider resources both for students and professionals in Further and Higher education, we have produced a number of resources in response to questions and needs that will arise for students in the coming months and beyond.”

TPT’s Student Support Service offers support in a number of ways:

  • Student Support Line. The new telephone support line – launched today – provides friendly and knowledgeable advice for students who have specific concerns or questions around starting Further or Higher education.
  • Covid-19 support: New guidance for students with vision impairment and professionals supporting students entering Higher Education during the current Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Student resources: A range of practical information and ‘how-to’ guides on meeting the challenges of Further and Higher education.
  • Student Support Facebook Network. This new Facebook group allows students to share advice and information, ask questions, and connect with those going through similar situations.
  • Student stories: Students are encouraged to share their experience and tips of Further and Higher Education, such as the challenges in accessing the Disabled Students’ Allowance.

Emma Hughes, Director of Services at TPT, said: “Research shows that when students with vision impairment reach the age of 16 and move onto Further and Higher Education they face a number of barriers and additional challenges.  This often leads to them having to repeat the same level modules, stay in FE/HE for a longer period than their peers or even drop out altogether.

“The new Student Support Service is designed to support these young people, creating a community where they come together for support, and providing information and advice, with the aim to reduce the drop-out rate and need for young people with vision impairments to retake modules. It will also support graduating students in their next steps towards employment.”

The Student Support Service can be accessed via TPT’s website:

Tara added: “We want to encourage students who are in, or about to enter, university to contact us with their thoughts on the content that will be most useful to them.  We can then tailor our content to ensure we are producing the information and tips that they need.

“We will be developing the new Student Service Facebook group and, when the lockdown ends, looking to hosts events to prepare students for this incredibly important phase in their lives.”


For further information or images please contact:

Penny Wilkinson, Thomas Pocklington Trust,  07974 578 637.

Editors’ Notes

About Thomas Pocklington Trust

Thomas Pocklington Trust is a national charity dedicated to enabling and empowering blind and partially sighted people of all ages to live the life they want to lead. We are committed to increasing awareness and understanding of their needs and aspirations, to working with partners and to developing and implementing services which meet these needs to increase independence and improve lives. These include:

  • Acting as an advocate and positive change agent for blind and partially sighted people.
  • Creating opportunities for blind and partially sighted people seeking employment.
  • Enabling opportunities and supporting blind and partially sighted people whilst in and entering education.
  • Facilitating the voice and encouraging self-determination of blind and partially sighted people.
  • Being an effective partner and grant funder based on our knowledge of the sector.

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