College Success Program
In 2013, research funded by the Lavelle Fund for the Blind was conducted on the experiences of college students who are blind or low vision. The findings of this research showed that students:
- Need to arrive at school prepared to direct their own learning,
- Are at risk of becoming isolated in the classroom, diminishing the quality of their educational experience,
- Need to successfully apply their technological knowledge to the rigorous demands of the college setting,
- And need to develop strong connections to people in their social communities and professional networks.
In response to this, the College Success Program was developed as a way to help students who are blind or have low vision get the resources they need to make the most of their college experience and achieve their goals.
The all-virtual CSP offers a holistic support system that utilizes and shares the knowledge and experience of experts in the blindness field. Some of those experts include recent college graduates who are blind or low vision themselves, who help guide students via mentorship as they transition from high school to college and employment.
Read on to learn more about the CSP, mentorship, resources, audiobooks, community and events.
How will you apply the tips from our resources to your unique situation? What if you want to bounce ideas off someone or get the perspective of a peer who has been in your shoes? Our Mentors are eager to help with all of this and more. The CSP is very fortunate to have a group of Mentors who have graduated from college and, like you, are blind or have low vision. Beyond these similarities, their visual acuity, fields of study and outside interests are quite diverse. But they do have something else in common; they are very eager to help you and other students to succeed on your unique college journey.
Meet Our Mentors
The College Success Program is lucky to have a group of Mentors who are blind or have low vision and are ready and willing to connect with students. In addition to being college graduates, our Mentors are professional dancers, entrepreneurs, published authors, marine biologists, vocal performers, textile designers, world champion tandem cyclists, and much more!
How do I sign up for a Mentor?
Connecting with a Mentor is a worthwhile and manageable commitment. Upon signing up, you’ll enter into a collaborative and rewarding partnership where you’ll meet regularly via phone, text and/or email throughout the semester. You and your Mentor will work together to develop goals – areas you’d like to improve over the course of the semester – and your Mentor will help guide you with tips, resources and encouragement.
If you’re interested in working with a Mentor, you must join the College Success Program. You can then request a Mentor through your dashboard.
The CSP offers a robust set of on-demand resources – articles, videos, audio recordings, webinars, etc. – that cover a wide variety of topics. Everything from career exploration to learning effectively, from living on your own to making connections, from partnering with your disability services office to discovering technology. Almost any situation you encounter or question you may have is covered in these resources.
Through a partnership between Envision and Learning Ally, free access to Learning Ally’s entire audiobook library is a benefit offered to all CSP members. Learning Ally’s human-read audiobooks will give you not only the text of the book but descriptions of important maps, charts, and diagrams.
Over the past few years, the CSP has cultivated a community where college students who are blind or have low vision can connect and engage in a safe space with peers, Mentors and CSP staff. This community helps with the sharing of resources and information on academic, professional and social topics relevant to you, as well as the opportunity for personal connection and growth. In addition to our public Facebook and Twitter pages, CSP members also receive exclusive access to our private Facebook group.
The CSP offers a variety of virtual events to both members and non-members. Our webinars, which focus on topics relevant to students who are blind or have low vision, their parents and those who work with them, are available to everyone. Events that are exclusive to CSP members include weekly Meetups, which provide opportunities for students to call in and chat live with other students and Mentors, and workshops held periodically throughout the year, which provide students the chance to explore their interest in things such as coding, creative writing, virtual choir, and more.
Envision, www.envisionus.com, strives to improve the quality of life for people of all ages who are blind or visually impaired and helps adults acquire professional skills for today’s workforce. Providing services for all ages, it has played an integral part in the lives of many, but they wanted to reach more. With Envision’s acquisition of the College Success Program in 2021, that’s just what they’re doing – reaching more – and specifically college students.
The CSP offers support for students aiming to attain a college degree, but what comes next? Employment, of course. As you explore employment opportunities all over the world, we hope that you consider the opportunities to join the Envision team as well. To search current job openings, and to read more about Envision’s culture and benefits, visit www.envisionus.com/job-opportunities.
Ways to Give
The College Success Program is available at no cost to students because of generous donors, sponsoring philanthropic organizations, and state vocational rehabilitation agencies. If you’d like to show your support for college students who are blind or visually impaired through a donation, click here. If you are a philanthropic organization who would like to provide financial support to the CSP or a state vocational rehabilitation agency who wants to bring the CSP to your students, contact Hannah Christenson, Director of Community Programs, at email@example.com or 316-440-1525.