A visually impaired student from Leeds takes a course to strengthen representation of disability in education

Lily has a guide dog named Zen.

Lily Walsh, 19, is completely blind in her right eye and visually impaired in her left eye due to a genetic condition called Peter’s anomaly.

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Research commissioned by Guide Dogs, a charity that helps provide mobility for the blind and visually impaired, showed that 71% of parents of visually impaired children believe there are not enough people with disabilities in the public eye .

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Lily and her guide dog Zen were paired up in 2019.

The research surveyed 1,700 UK-based Britons with a child aged 7 to 12, including parents of 220 visually impaired children.

Lily, who is from Liversedge, is currently training to become a teacher at Leeds Trinity University, although she admits to realizing there aren’t many disabled teachers like the one she has.

She said: “When I was younger I wanted to work with animals because I grew up surrounded by them, but I didn’t really know what I wanted to do until I went to school. ‘university.

“I realized there weren’t many teachers with disabilities like mine. I think it’s important for young children to see people like them represented in what some might call “challenging professional roles,” like teachers.

“I’ve had my sight all my life, so I’ve learned to do everything visually impaired. I’m very proud of everything I’ve achieved.”

The research also found that 43% of parents of visually impaired children do not think the world is inclusive enough for people with visual impairments, while 37% believe there is a clear lack of opportunity for people with visual impairments. with a visual impairment.

29% said they feared their children would pursue the career of their choice, but Lily is on her way to a career in education and has an internship scheduled for this month.

She said: “University life is challenging but rewarding. I can see the progress I have made, not only in my studies but also as a person, since September when I started, until today. today.

“My favorite part of teacher training is of course the children. I haven’t been in a classroom yet – my first placement starts in May. What I would also say is that uncovering the science behind teaching and learning is extremely interesting.

Lily has a guide dog named Zen, a yellow golden retriever Labrador cross, and the companion has been by her side since 2019 when they were first paired.

More information on support for those who have experienced vision loss can be found here.

About Stuart M. McFarland

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