Visually impaired students use digital textbooks, special software

There are students with visual impairments, three of them freshmen, living at Seton Hall, according to Director of Disability Support Services Angela Millman. These students are considered to be legally blind.

“Visual disabilities run on a continuum, with some legally blind students still having partial vision while others are completely blind,” Millman said.

She also said that DSS accommodates these students at the start of each semester by obtaining their digital textbooks and providing them with the appropriate soft- ware and technology to help them in classes.

“It is essential that students who are blind receive their texts and other course materials in an alternative format so that they have equal access to the course and instructional materials,” Millman said.

Sophomore and Boston native Michael Iannalfo is legally blind and said his only trouble at Seton Hall is remembering so many voices.

“It’s hard because there are so many people,” he said. “It’s hard to recognize everyone’s voice and I can’t see faces very well.”

According to Iannalfo, DSS provides visually impaired students with Smartpens that allow them to record lectures. The pen can play back specific audio clips corresponding to the notes taken by the user.

Extra exam time is also given to students with visual disabilities, as well as priority class registration, according to Iannalfo.

Iannalfo said that he can only see shadows and lights in his right eye but can see objects in close proximity with his left eye. Because he can “see well enough” with his left eye, Iannalfo said, he chooses not to use a walking cane when on campus.

Iannalfo said his favorite thing to do at Seton Hall is hang out and play video games with his friends. “It’s good here,” he said. “I can get by, I function, I live. You get used to it. I mean, I was born this way.”

Sophomore Maura Jones is a peer adviser to a visually impaired student and said that her other students helped him any opportunity they have. She said that her students guided him to his seat in class and accompanied him around campus.

“I think it’s really great when I see students on campus helping out other students,” Jones said. “All of my students are willing to help any one of their peers, and it makes me very proud to see such a caring group of students.”

Tiffany Do can be reached at

Author: Tiffany Do

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