Factors Enabling Transition to University for Students with Blindness in Kenya: a Case of Kenyatta University.
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University students who are categorised as "blind" hardly receive research attention regarding their educational experiences including milestones that mark their educational success from .primary, secondary and eventually university. The study investigated factors that have made it possible for relatively few learners with blindness to succeed in education when majority of these students do not go beyond the primary school level by exploring what are perceived as JililliluniYeJ:sity_s1u.illm!0uccess stories in education. The location of the study was Kenyatta University's Main Campus, in Nairobi. The research employed a qualitative research approach using a narrative design that enabled the researcher to capture subjects' voices and represent experiences vividly. Interviews in form of biographies (life stories) were collected from ten students (five male and five female) with blindness using interview guides. The independent variable in the study was on the one hand, factors enabling transition of learners with blindness to university such as a barrier-free environment as well as relevant curriculum adaptations. On the other hand, transition to university was the dependant variable. The key objective of the study was to establish factors that have enabled transition of learners with blindness to university in Kenyatta University. A pilot study was conducted at Kenyatta University on a similar population; the four students in the pilot study did not take part in the actual study. The respondents were sampled purposively based on degree of blindness and level of university education (from PhD downwards). Recording of the interviews was done by use of a digital recorder. Interviews were transcribed to yield text data which were then coded and analysed qualitatively using Atlas ti computer software. From the study, a major finding is that forging of social relationships (friendships) with both sighted and learners with blindness and other persons in the surrounding was the main enabling factor in the transition of students with blindness to the university. The findings also show that schooling is a major emancipator of persons with blindness. A major recommendation is that the Ministry of Education should subsidize the cost of Braille textbooks to make them affordable. Further, Ministry of Education should translate supplementary text books used by learners with blindness into Braille to help reduce reliance on readers. The study findings may form part of the emancipatory lessons that may be used to inform and encourage other students with blindness. The findings may also be used in, planning, monitoring and evaluating programmes which aim at improving access and retention of students with blindness in higher education in Kenya.