Blind univer­sity stu­dent has the touch

ACHIEVE­MENTS THRILL STAFF

Wanneroo Times - - News -

DE­SPITE hav­ing con­quered the world as a Par­a­lympian, Lyn Le­pore thought her vi­sion im­pair­ment put univer­sity out of reach.

But now, 14 years af­ter claim­ing gold in women’s tan­dem cy­cling at the Sydney Par­a­lympics, she is well on her way to fin­ish­ing a de­gree in ex­er­cise science.

Ms Le­pore shared her story of sport­ing and aca­demic suc­cess at ECU to mark In­ter­na­tional Day for Peo­ple with a Dis­abil­ity.

Not only has she ex­celled in writ­ten ex­am­i­na­tions, she has also topped her anatomy ex­ams, where she had to iden­tify parts of the hu­man body solely based on touch.

The test in­cluded iden­ti­fy­ing a fe­mur bone and de­ter­min­ing if it was from a left or right leg.

Last year she also won the practicum award for the stu­dent with the high­est marks for a prac­ti­cal place­ment unit.

“Be­ing blind means I have a well de­vel­oped sense of touch, which can come in handy,” she said.

“At the be­gin­ning of se­mes­ter I like to go into the labs that my classes will be held in so I can go around the room and touch all the equip­ment and build an im­age of the room in my head.”

Ms Le­pore, who re­cently started a job with the Na­tional Dis­abil­ity In­sur­ance Scheme, said in ad­di­tion to the sup­port from ECU staff, tech­nol­ogy had been a huge help in her stud­ies.

“Text­books and jour­nals be­ing avail­able in au­dio form is a huge help for me,” she said.

“It does mean I have to lis­ten to a whole ar­ti­cle rather than skip­ping to the spe­cific parts I need, which is time­con­sum­ing.

“But lis­ten­ing to all the in­for­ma­tion rather than just what I need for my as­sign­ment does give me a good over­view of the topic I am study­ing.”

In ad­di­tion to her hard work and ded­i­ca­tion, Ms Le­pore cred­its her suc­cess in her stud­ies to the sup­port of­fered to her by ECU staff.

“I have an as­sis­tant who comes to classes with me to help out with tak­ing notes and ex­plain things I can’t see,” she said.

Ms Le­pore said there were some sim­ple things her tu­tors and lec­tur­ers did to help her.

“Some of my tu­tors were a bit ner­vous about hav­ing a blind stu­dent, I think, but once they re­alised they don’t have to change the way they teach much at all it wasn’t a prob­lem,” she said.

“The main thing they do to help me is to de­scribe and vi­su­alise data, like a pic­ture or graph, rather than just point- ing to it on a screen or pro­jec­tor. I’ve had some tu­tors say do­ing this has been help­ful for all their stu­dents.”

Se­nior sports science lec­turer Kylie Cor­mack said Lyn was a model stu­dent.

“Lyn has smashed our expectatio­ns of her; ev­ery­one is so in­cred­i­bly proud of what she has achieved,” she said.

Pic ture: Martin Ken­nealey www.com­mu­ni­typix.com.au

Lyn Le­pore’s con­cerns about gain­ing a univer­sity ed­u­ca­tion proved un­founded, as she has ex­celled in her stud­ies.

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