Welcome to my Navigating College Campuses series, where I talk about all of the different ways I use Orientation and Mobility (O&M) techniques and my blindness cane as a student with low vision at my large public university. After spending four years living on my college campus, I’ve learned a thing or two about navigating in several different conditions and situations, and am so excited to share my tips and tricks with other students and future students. Today, I will be sharing my experiences with blindness canes and going to satellite campuses, and how I learned to navigate my college’s second campus for classes related to my previous major.
Why I had classes at a satellite campus
At my college, select classes and majors are mainly or only offered at a satellite campus about thirty minutes away from the main campus. This is because many of the students who take these classes or majors are commuting from other areas and prefer the location of this campus, or because adjunct professors work close to the satellite campus. I took four classes on the satellite campus with my previous major, and would have had to take at least 6 more classes on the campus if I hadn’t switched. While the fact I had to take classes on a satellite campus didn’t bother me too much, I wanted to avoid it if possible when I was choosing my new major.
Benefits of taking classes on a satellite campus
Some of the benefits of taking classes on a satellite campus include:
- More flexibility with class scheduling and class times
- Smaller class sizes and more manageable classrooms
- There are fewer buildings so it’s more difficult to get lost- though still not impossible!
- Students can plan their schedules and take multiple classes in one day
- Many of the buildings and classrooms are new and filled with the latest technology, since they typically are from recent construction
- Blindness Canes and Classrooms: Navigating College Campuses
- Blindness Canes and Building Identification: Navigating College Campuses
- College Scheduling Hacks For Students With Chronic Illness
Frustrations of taking classes on a satellite campus
Some of the frustrations of taking classes on a satellite campus include:
- Having to sit on a bus for long periods of time to get to class
- A majority of campus resources and staff members are located on the main campus, such as the testing center and other academic supports
- Some professors may not be aware of accessibility resources or assistive technology
- Students may have to get to classes during rush hour
- How Do People with Visual Impairments Use the Bus System?
- What To Bring To The Disability Services Testing Center
- How To Create A Disability Services File
Planning routes to the bus stop
My college provides a free shuttle service to get to and from the satellite campus, with various stops around the main campus. Since I would be leaving for class early in the morning, the first thing I did was map out a route to the bus stop closest to my dorm using my phone’s GPS to navigate to the building directly behind the stop.
In order to determine which bus was mine, I would use my phone to magnify the signs on the side of the bus, use a short text reader such as Google Lens, or ask the driver where they were going so I wouldn’t get on the wrong bus. I also planned out routes to get to the other bus stops on campus in case I ended up missing the bus at my normal location or needed to get off at a different stop.
- How I Use My Phone For Orientation and Mobility
- Using the Google Assistant Camera with Low Vision
- Microsoft Seeing AI And Low Vision Review
Setting up a schedule
When I learned that I would have a 9 a.m class on the satellite campus, I sat down with the online bus schedule to figure out what time I should leave for class, following my university’s guidelines about how it could take up to an hour to get to class. Since shuttles run every 20 minutes in the morning, I wrote a list of three different shuttle times and when they stopped at my preferred bus stop, as well as the times for my backup shuttle stops in case I left from a different campus building. I also added this information to my custom dorm room skill on my Amazon Alexa.
Since the bus stop on the satellite campus was only one building away from my class, I didn’t spend as much time thinking about finding out what time the shuttle would leave campus. However, I did note what time the shuttles would end at night when I had a late-night class.
Locating buildings on the satellite campus
While the main campus at my college is filled with lots of maps, guides, accessibility tools, and people in general, the satellite campus does not have a lot of these things. Prior to the first day of class, I emailed my professor and asked where the classroom was in relation to the bus stop, since I was worried about not being able to find the classroom with low vision. The professor helpfully responded with easy walking directions and sent me a video of themselves walking from the bus stop to the main entrance of the class building. I’ve also contacted the campus information desk for directions in the past and had a security officer walk me to class when I got confused walking in the dark.
- How Do People With Visual Impairments Use Human Guides?
- Ten Reasons You Should Call A Security Escort
Finding other campus resources
Besides finding my classes, I also made a note of where to find other campus resources and offices that could come in handy if I needed them at the satellite campus, along with their hours. These places include:
- Campus library
- Assistive technology/accessibility lab
- Cafe or other food places
- Student Health Services/urgent care
- Campus security with phone number
- Information desk
- College Libraries and Low Vision
- Blindness Canes and Dining Halls: Navigating College Campuses
- How to Deal With Being Sick in College
Navigating college campuses can be tricky, but I’m so grateful to have my blindness cane to help me every step of the way. My blindness cane provides me the independence I need as someone with low vision and allows me to go all of the places I want to go on campus, all while keeping me safe from obstacles and safety hazards along the way. Whether you are new to using a cane or have used one your entire life, I hope this post is helpful for learning how to navigate your college campus, no matter what gets in your way!