Six Step to College Success

By: Kim Avila

Published by the National Federation of the Blind

June 2003


Editorís Note:

Kim Avila is a former board member of the Fairfax Area Chapter and holds dual master degrees, one in Education for the Blind and Visually Impaired and the other in Orientation and Mobility.  Her masters thesis was titled "Blind, But I Can See."  It addressed Orientation and Mobility methods and low vision.

Kim is currently a teacher of the blind and visually impaired at Robinson High School. Her experience has shown her that students who are transitioning from high school to college need to master certain skills to be successful. The following is Kimís list of necessary skills, along with specific examples.

Checklist Steps to college success

1. Self Advocacy

        Communicates needs clearly

        Solicits aid when appropriate

        Good problem solving skills, not always going to a sighted person for help all of the time.

        Knows how to find and use resources, such as vocational rehabilitation services, the college office for students with disabilities and others.

        Orders adaptive materials independently.  Consults with professors well before the semester begins and orders materials appropriately.

        Manages time effectively

        Has appropriate adaptive devices and maintains their care.  Is well acquainted with how they operate and knows how to have them repaired or replaced if necessary.

2. Independent living

        Takes care of self and personal care needs

        Dresses appropriately

        Maintains a clean dorm room and living space, including:

o      Appropriate use of laundry facilities

o      Vacuum, sweep, mop, dust and may need to know how to clean a bathroom

        Organizes and maintains an orderly environment

        Provides for own needs, can shop for clothes, food and personal care items.

        Manages money, checking, savings accounts, credit cards, loans, other bills

        Takes care of health needs, manages insurance, makes and meets medical appointments.

3. Orientation and Mobility

        Can travel effectively with appropriate mobility aid or guide.

o      Navigates sidewalks, street crossings of varying types, busy hallways, cafeteria etc.

o      Use of transportation resources, bus, paratransit, taxicab, driver, etc.

4. Social Skills

        Interacts appropriately with peers, professors, employers etc


        Makes appropriate health and life style choices

        Knows how to report a problem to proper authorities

5. Academics

        Uses mode of literacy that is appropriate

        Has effective study skills

6. Technology

        Operates current computer applications well with adaptive technology.  Must especially know how to operate the Internet, Email, word processor, spread sheet and slide show program (such as PowerPoint).

        Electronic note taker or other device for taking notes in class

        Ability to adapt print materials by scanning, braille transcription, enlarging etc.

        Has a variety of methods for computer back up.  Can use non-electronic adaptive devices, such as a slate and stylus