The Leaving Certificate – by a visually impaired student

The Leaving Certificate is a daunting task for most. For a certain few however, it does not only manifest itself as a scary monster waiting for you under your bed, but as a rocky mountain, with a steep upward slope for you to climb, with little more than what God has given you. And it is a sad fact of life that God has been better to some of us than he has to others, I am included in the latter bracket the ‘others’.
Because of my visual impairment, I and others like me may (or may not require) certain concessions when doing our exams. These concessions include a scribe to take down your work for you, enlarged print on the examination papers, extra time and visual aids etc. When doing my Leaving Certificate exams I opted for four of these concessions: an extra fifteen minutes to be added to every hour of exam time, enlarged examination papers and the use of a computer and for my Biology exam, a modified script.

Before I go any further I should explain what a modified script is. It’s quite simple really, instead of having miniscule diagrams to draw and dissect the student instead is presented with questions relating to the subject discussed in said diagrams. This is all well and good in theory; the exams should be made significantly less laborious for visually impaired students. But what happens when the powers that be slip up? On the first day of examinations I was not only nervous but shocked to discover that my first English Paper was not enlarged, my shock cannot be compared to that of the Leaving Cert supervisor, upon discovering that not one of my papers was enlarged!

On top of this the modified Biology paper had not arrived, instead tucked neatly amongst those seven or so standard scripts was a modified Geography paper: an examination paper for a subject I did not take for my Leaving Cert!

Despite these hic-ups, the exams themselves were nothing short of plain sailing. The concessions provided helped me dramatically and I would recommend any visually impaired student to apply for such concessions. The extra time and allocated break time was a blessing. So it is clear that once the bother over the Biology paper and the enlarged scripts was sorted it was clean sailing. My Leaving Cert for the most part went well, better than I had expected in fact, and I am certainly happy that I took the concessions and used them to my advantage.