Sara Sarungallo’s first week as a Macquarie University Student has been made a lot easier after she received a suite of technology through the Vision Australia Further Education Bursary program.
The bursary program has equipped Sara with technology including a laptop with Microsoft office, Samsung Galaxy Tab S2, Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge and handheld magnifier, which has helped ease the apprehension she had about university.
“Before I received the bursary I was a little apprehensive about starting just because I wasn’t sure how I’d go with accessing all of the information for my course,” 18 year-old Sara said.
“The equipment I’ve received through the bursary has really helped. Most of the information is digital now and it means that I can zoom in to read my text books and things like that. In lectures even if I sit right at the front I still can’t read the slides the lecturers use so the Samsung tablet will really help me there,” she said.
Sara lives with low vision due to an undiagnosed condition which she has had since birth. The condition manifests itself through continual and involuntary eye movements known as nystagmus as well as strabismus, which causes her eyes to be out of alignment. Sara’s vision is rated as 6/21, meaning what she can see from six metres is what a sighted person can see at 21 metres.
During high Sara relied on a school issued laptop and her teachers providing enlarged worksheets and the aspiring human rights lawyer said she using her new technology is much more convenient.
“When I used the laptop I had from school everything seemed crowded on the screen when zoomed in, the equipment I’ve got through the bursary definitely makes things easier.
“Becoming a human rights lawyer was something that was in the back of my mid forever, but when I got to year 12 it was something that I decided I really wanted to do. Hopefully I’m in a position now where I can do my best at uni and achieve that goal.”
Having moved from Tamworth to study, Sara is also working with a Vision Australia Orientation and Mobility Specialist to help her familiarise herself with her new environment.
“I’m living off campus, so the O&M is helping me come up with some systems to help me get places safely. The next thing we’ll be working on is getting used to travelling on trains and that sort of thing.
This is the 21st year Vision Australia has been providing bursaries to people with vision impairment who are undertaking further education. To date, more than 320 students have been supported by Vision Australia through a bursary.
The bursary allows students to access assistive technology such as specialist computer software and braille displays, helping students like Sara study alongside their sighted peers.