Everyday Life,  Low Vision Products,  Student Life,  Technology

Legally Blind in Graduate School

I graduated with a Bachelor’s in Psychology in 2014, and I started graduate school in January of this year (eight months ago). I’m in a Counselor’s Education program earning a Master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling so that I can become a Licensed Professional Counselor.

I am one of the lucky students who doesn’t have much trouble with school work. I love to read; I love learning new things; and I also very much enjoy being in school.

My Biggest Issue: Textbooks

My biggest issue in any class is usually reading the textbook. I generally try to get them all in e-book form because I can read them in that format much more quickly and easily. On occasion, the e-book format isn’t quite so easy to get my hands on, and I’m required to use another tool. My two tools of choice for this task are either a handheld electronic magnifier (I recently got a new one and will be reviewing it on this blog as well) or a scanner app for my phone.

The Helpful Tools I Use

Person with Albinism using an Eschenbach Smartlux Magnifier
An overhead selfie of me using my Eschenbach Smartlux.

The scanner app that I’ve used multiple times now is the CamScanner-Phone PDF Creater (You can find it in the Google Play Store here). I’ve scanned an entire textbook for personal use on this app, and it really saved me during that semester. Before I use it for one of this semester’s courses, I’ll be testing out my new handheld electronic magnifier, the Eschenback Smartlux. I receive this through my local Vocational Rehabilitation, but you can find it on Amazon and the newer version on Maxiaids.

UPDATE: I have since changed the PDF scanning applications I use to the Adobe scan app available on both Android and iOS. I have detailed these apps and some other tools that I and others with visual impairments use for reading. You can read that post here.

Person with Albinism showing off the Vortex monocular
Selfie of me holding my Vortex monocular beside my face

The next tool that I use regularly in college is a good monocular. I got a new one a few years ago from Amazon, and I love it! It is the Vortex Solo 10x36mm Monocular It can be found on Amazon here: Vortex Solo 10×36 mm Monocular.

The price hovers around $100 now, but I believe it was closer to $60-70 when I got it a couple years ago. I have used this in small classrooms from the back of the classroom, but this particular focal length (x36) is best suited for more distance. It is particularly well-suited for stadiums, other entertainment venues, and on the street to read signs and see lights. It worked well for me in all of those situations. Having a 10x field of view rather than an 8x gives you a much wider viewing ring, and that will be appreciated in a wide variety of situations. I also love the adjustable eye cup that allows me to use this monocular with and without glasses comfortably. It is by no means a compact monocular for those of you in the market for compact, but it is rubber coated, waterproof, and feels very well made.

Here is a more affordable option: Vortex Optics Solo 10×25 Waterproof Monocular

My Eschenbach Smartlux with its case and my Vortex 10×36 monocular with its case

The Other Tech I Use

The other necessities I carry around for school include my phone (Nexus 6p), Tablet (Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4″), a cheap laptop (Asus X502C), Bluetooth Headset (LG HBS900), and some other odds and ends.

I’m a huge tech nut, but I don’t have the funds to update my own tech as of now. I’m hoping to upgrade my laptop in the near future with either the Lenovo Yoga 720 or this years HP Spectre x360. I have a few other similar options on that list, but those are the front runners.

For now, stay curious, and feel free to share any feedback with me.

I have Albinism and am legally blind. I have a Master's degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. I'm currently pursuing my passion of writing through this blog and for the Albinism InSight magazine.

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