“If any one of us here who is sighted were to lose some or most of our sight due to an accident, an illness or disease, or an act of violence, what resources would you reach out to for support?”

This was one of the five questions asked of the audience by UCF Knight Larry Schneider, a graduate student in the College of Optics & Photonics, before turning the question to other Knights at the panel. The Knights Panel was represented by UCF students who are blind or have a visual impairment and are registered with the Office of Student Disability Services.

The panelists shared the common experience of receiving independent skills training from Lighthouse Central Florida, including mobility training to help them navigate the UCF main campus.

Members of Lighthouse Central Florida welcomed and offered goggles to those who dared to experience a visual impairment before entering the simulated “mock” classroom environment. Participants who sported the goggles got first hand exposure to what it might feel like to be in a classroom where the instructor is presenting a lecture with the aid of a PowerPoint or a short film without offering to describe what was being shown.

UCF students with low vision may or may not always inform their instructors of their visual impairments and attempt to blend in to be “normal.” However, the point of the demonstration was to show how classroom presentations can be inaccessible to students with low vision. World Sight Day 2012 closed with the showing of the documentary film Going Blind, a documentary film by Joseph Lovett [www.goingblindmovie.com/].

World Sight Day is an annual day of awareness to focus global attention on blindness, visual impairment and rehabilitation of the visually impaired held on the second Thursday in October. The core World Sight Day message to everyone is schedule an annual eye exam and sunglasses that protect against UV sunlight. If you or a loved one is losing vision, contact Lighthouse Central Florida at: www.lighthousecentralflorida.org/.

The Office of Student Disability Services is in the Division of Student Development and Enrollment Services.