Orientation and Mobility Training for 2019/2020 Level 100 Students with Visual Impairment Commences on Legon Campus

The annual Orientation and Mobility training for fresh men and women with visual impairment began last weekend on the Legon campus. The training forms part of support services offered by the Office of Students with Special Needs (OSSN). In the 2019/20 academic year, the University of Ghana has enrolled 45 students with special needs, out of which 18 are students with visual impairment.

The Head of the OSSN, Dr. Awo M. Asiedu notes that orientation and mobility training is crucial for visually impaired students who have newly arrived on campus. This training which is combined with training in the use of white canes, she said, is intended to help the students move safely and independently on campus. “The training helps orient them to their new environment and aids them to find their way from their various halls of residence to lecture halls, departments, OSSN, the library and ICT lab, among other important places. Students, who have taken this training seriously in the past, can often be seen moving about campus without any assistance.” The few students who fail to do so, she said, end up still largely dependent on their roommates and other colleagues to take them wherever they need to go. Even though the OSSN encourages other students to offer help to such students, a certain degree of autonomy on the part of the visually impaired students and other students with special needs is always desirable.

Considerable efforts have been made to improve accessibility and ensure a mobility-friendly campus for students of special needs such as the construction of walkways and pavements. Even though there are a few impediments such as tree trunks and electricity poles, and uneven walkways, there are also efforts in recent times to create detours around poles and to uproot obstructions along the walkways.

In addition to making presentations at the general orientation for freshmen and women at the beginning of the academic year, the OSSN also organizes an annual orientation and mobility training for its new students with visual impairment. This is run by a dedicated team of resource staff of the OSSN, led by Mr. Paul Amuzu and Ms. Bertha Otapah.

The Office of Students with Special Needs (OSSN), University of Ghana, was set up in 2005 to provide support services to students with special needs. Currently, the office caters for students with hearing, visual and mobility impairments as well as students with chronic medical conditions such as sickle cell anemia and cerebral palsy.