Being visually impaired: How I prepare for and take an exam

in #life5 years ago (edited)

Due to my visual impairment (Stargardt’s disease) I lost my central vision when I was 10-14years old and nowadays I have a vision of about 5%. At the moment I am still a student (I’m 24 years old) and I am studying to get my master degree in Healthpsychology and Technology at a Dutch university (simply because I am Dutch). For the past few weeks I’ve been very quiet on Steem it because I felt I needed to focus more on school. Although studying takes a lot of time and energy, I managed to succeed nominally in all my years of studying.    

So I thought, maybe it is interesting to tell you about how I prepare for an exam and how I take one with regard to my visual impairment and the stress that it produces. Just to give you an impression of what it is like to be visually impaired and study.    

Reading
I can read, although I can’t read without any helping tools such as an electronic magnifier. (I wrote a blog about the technology I use for school and in daily life). You can probably imagine that my reading isn’t as fast as someone with a normal vision. I once did a ‘read off’ with a friend. While she finished 3 paragraphs, I only finished the first. And when you take that into account when reading a whole book, it is going to take a while. Usually, when I’m reading for fun, I will let the technology read it to me. But when I need to process, store and retrieve the information (such as in studying) I prefer reading it myself or combine it with reading along with the speech.   

Studying
Studying, ugh, the word itself makes me feel so tired. Every time I start a new course at school I get really excited about the topic. Because, really, healthpsychology is so interesting and so much fun! But when the part starts where I have to actively study, it becomes less fun. Not because of the content but because of the energy and time it takes for me to do something. The word studying has become a negative word for me because it reminds me of the headaches I get from reading and tiredness, the back pain I get from having to bend over my desk for hours to be able to read and the stress and pressure I feel to keep up with everything. Not to make it sound worse but because of these feelings I have sleepless nights which in turn lead to more tiredness. Especially at night I keep thinking about everything I need to study to pass my exams. Thinking about how fast a day goes when you try to read for hours at a day just to try to keep up. I try not to let it bother me that my classmates are talking about how they read the chapters two or three times while I am lucky if I get to read it all even once.  In the end, I am very grateful that I get to study and I really like my study so I want to end this part with something positive haha. 

Exam preparations
I don’t know how you guys do it (or did it) but when I have to prepare for an exam my beast mode gets activated. For some people this starts 2 weeks before the exam, for others just 4 days. For me… about 5 weeks haha. To get rid of the chaotic feeling I am always busy by creating an overview. This means gathering everything that I have to study. We often get a list with article references that we have to search for ourselves. And because this is often in PDF, I send it to a site that puts it nicely in a Word document so that my technology can read it to me. But when you have 3 courses at the same time and you have to read at least 18 articles per course, it can take some time before you have it all nicely ordered in your computer haha. Further, I have to plan when I am going to read what (because I like an overview). Like 1 week before the exam, there is a mode even worse than beast mode. I call it the days of hell. It means that I am literally only studying for like 6 or 7 hours a day (if not more). Just because I am so slow in reading. It really pressures me to keep up with school. BUT to end with something positive here too. I am always proud on myself for doing it and keeping up with everything that in the end it is totally worth it! 

Taking the exam
Some of you might recognize it, others might think I am a drama queen but the feelings are real and I hope you will not have to experience them. And yes, they might sound like I have performance anxiety or fear of failure. Which I probably have to some degree but yeah, that’s up to me to deal with. So in order for me to take the exam I will need: an enlarged dictionary, my electronic magnifier, about 3 pens, some food and water, energy and a positive mood. Prior to the exam I get nervous for several reasons. I always have this feeling that I forget things, such as to bring my magnifier or that I forget to charge it. And just in case I will always put my old magnifier in my bag the day before the exam. I feel nervous because the exam is going to be intense, it takes about two to three long hours and that is not something I am looking forward to.    And then there is that part of the exam where I (luckily) have 25% extra time to finish it due to my impairment. But that also means that my classmates need to stop and that it takes a while before everyone is out of the room. It once even happened that the whole class (about 100 people) just stayed near their desk and started talking while I was still stressing out of finishing the exam in time. You can imagine that it had some effect on my concentration.   

So, to end my post. I would like you to know that I did not wrote this to be  sad, a drama queen or a control freak or whatever haha. I work hard and I like that I have will power to do all this. I just like sharing my thoughts and experiences with you:) I just had my last exam yesterday so I finally felt the time to be posting again! I am usually more positive but sometimes there are things that may sounds all negative, but really, I remain positive during all of this because otherwise  would not have being able to keep on going and I still do!

Let me know what you think or if you can relate to this :)  

@boosje123

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I admire your tenacity and determination @boosje123. Sometimes when we meet with negative situations we wallow in self pity. But you no. I have observed that people with limited senses make up by amplifying other ones and become exceptional. Have you ever tried visualising what you read? That can save your energies because it can stick the first time and it becomes part of you intuition such that when your write exams "you feel" the answers as opposed to recall

More power to you! I'm glad to have read your post; I wish you the best of luck in all your endeavours :)

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