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Layla Clarkson-Eather

20 May 2022

‘Being blind is nothing to be scared of’: how Layla is taking uni in her stride

My name is Layla Clarkson-Eather and I’m a Cloud Campus student based in Brisbane. I’m in my second year of a Bachelor of Business, majoring in People Management. I am blind and rely on a screen reader.

‘I have loved studying at Deakin so far and this is in part due to the Disability Resource Centre (DRC) that Deakin provides. My Disability Liaison Officer Tracy has helped to make studying accessible in a range of ways – from supplying reading materials from the Print Disability Service to putting me in touch with academic support workers who provide me with image descriptions for assignments. I wouldn’t have been able to succeed at university without these resources.

‘Tracy has also enabled me to become a part of the Deakin SWAT (Students and Staff with Accessible Technology) Team. This team aims to make Deakin more accessible by collaborating on projects like providing feedback on unit site accessibility and accessible educational guidelines.

‘I’ve also been able to co-produce the Let’s get accessible podcast, where Deakin students and staff chat all things disability and accessibility. I’ve really enjoyed learning about the experiences of other students with disabilities.

‘For the most part, I do find Deakin’s resources accessible, but there have been the occasional moments where this hasn’t been the case. I have needed to advocate for myself by contacting my unit chairs when this has happened. Thankfully, they have been adaptable and flexible in assisting me.

‘As someone living with blindness, I believe that there is increasing awareness of accessibility. However, there is still a strong sense of stigma and fear surrounding blindness. Raising awareness will reduce this stigma.

‘I would like to advocate and create awareness that being blind is nothing to be scared of. We live normal lives; we are capable of studying and holding down a job and participating in hobbies.

‘Deakin is a fantastic university, but there is always room for improvement. One way I think Deakin can improve is by using image descriptions and encouraging the use of accessible documentation. Creating awareness about what students with disabilities need will mean that Deakin is known as a university that values accessibility.’

If Layla’s story has inspired you to learn more about accessibility, read our recent blog celebrating Global Accessibility Awareness Day, which highlights why making online content accessible to all students is so important, and explains what Deakin is doing to make this a reality.

Does disability and/or a health condition affect your study experience? Follow Layla’s lead and get in touch with the DRC for advice and support. The DRC currently works with more than 4000 Deakin students, so you’ll be joining a supportive community that wants to help you succeed at uni.

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