An exploration of the barriers, experienced by visually impaired students studying at the University of Natal.
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People with disabilities including people with visual impairments experienced severe forms of discrimination, isolation and separation. They were perceived as people with deficits and in need of help. They were separated from the. society as they were considered to be inadequate people. The discriminative practices against people with disabilities and the doctrines of apartheid that contributed to discrimination and separation on racial differences resulted in black people with disabilities being doubly handicapped. The discrimination against people with disabilities is largely associated with the adherence to the medical model and deficit theory to disability. However the current trends which support the Social Rights model to disability which is consistent with the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa and its Bill of Rights (Constitutional Court, 1996), adopts an inclusive approach and promotes equal rights and equal opportunity for all people, including people with disabilities. This commits the University to enrolling students with disabilities and providing equal education opportunities for them The late commitment, which was guided by the Constitution (Constitutional Court, 1996), resulted in the lack of resources. Lack of support services and stereotypical attitudes contributed to academic barriers to learning by students with visual impairment and students with disabilities. This study explores the barriers encountered by students with visual impairments studying at the University of Natal. A qualitative case study approach was adopted in this study, whereby eight subjects who were visually impaired at the University of Natal were interviewed using a semi structured questionnaire, exploring the barriers they encountered with their academic studies. The findings reveal that there are numerous barriers which students with visual impairments encountered with their studies at the University of Natal. However, acknowledgement is made on the commitment by the University to address these special needs of students with visual impairments. Recommendations are made to address the academic barriers encountered by visually impaired students.