Focusing on the future
First year ACU Strathfield student Noah Stanton lives with cone-rod dystrophy and high myopia, classing him as legally blind. The 18-year-old is studying social work with the aim of becoming a qualified occupational therapist.
“I’m starting a Bachelor of Social Work and my goal is to transfer to study occupational therapy next year,” Noah said.
“When I was going through high school, I had a great interest in PDHPE (Personal Development, Health and Physical Education) and different aspects of health and the human body. I also discovered that I want to help other people. I think this came about because of my disability; I know the different struggles and adversity that can come with that and so I want to help other people who are feeling the same or may be struggling with similar issues. I think occupational therapy combines these two interests perfectly, and that is what is drawing me towards it.”
Noah still remembers when he first encountered support tailored to his needs.
“On the very first day at school, me and my mum reached out to the disability services team, and I felt that support and guidance from other people. That is when I have decided I want to have a career where I help other people and provide support for them.
“ACU was my first pick out of any of the universities primarily due to the good reputation it has, especially in health sciences. ACU also offers many ways to gain practical experience through extensive placements. This will give me added confidence when I start work after university.”
Helping Noah achieve his goals is a Vision Australia Further Education Bursary. Noah has received a suite of assistive technology, including a laptop, talking tape measure, a Sunu Band (a smart mobility device that helps its wearers navigate obstacles) and a smartphone, to support his studies.
“I was so privileged to receive the bursary,” he said. “The technologies that are provided will assist me in my learning process as well as make it easier for me to engage in many aspects of uni life in and out of the classroom.
“I was looking forward to uni, but I was a little bit worried about being able to see content and also navigate campus. The laptop means I’ll be able to access lectures and that sort of thing online, and the phone is to let me record practical demonstrations that I’d have trouble seeing otherwise.
“Low light really affects my vision and I often use a torch to help me navigate, so the Sunu Band will be really good in helping me find my way around campus.
“I’ve also been in contact with many of the amazing disability support advisors that ACU offers, and they have talked to me about all the different things I need to complete my studies. This has improved my confidence and I feel so supported as I start the first year of my degree.”
Noah is already enjoying the chance to study something he is really excited about.
“The fact that I can finally study something I’m passionate about instead of having to analyse Shakespeare is wonderful. Having the ability to study subjects you actually care about makes it so much easier to engage and be motivated to learn.”
And his advice to others with vision issues thinking about uni?
“I would say, make yourself aware of all the different support that is out there to help you – they don’t know you exist until you approach them. I didn’t make myself known to student services until later in high school. This made the first few years very difficult and awkward.
“Embrace the fact that you have a disability, tell people and let them know. Universities all have some sort of disability support. Get in contact with them ASAP and make sure you get the support you need.”
Thinking about uni? Explore the courses at ACU.