Dianne Theakstone, who is registered blind, first chose to study at the University of Stirling in 2005 because of the support networks available to visually impaired students. She has spent the last 13 years at Stirling – completing an MSc Housing Studies; MSc Applied Social Research and, most recently, a PhD Applied Social Science.
“My attraction for studying at Stirling back in 2005 was that it had a reputation for having one of the best support networks for visually impaired students,” explained Dianne, from Edinburgh. “For instance, you were able to log on to any computer, load up your profile and the specialist software would automatically come on. There is also a fantastic specialist support unit to access print materials.”
Dianne, 35, is interested in research investigating aspects of disablement. She received funding for the MSc Applied Social Research, and then the PhD, from the Economic and Social Research Council. During her studies, Dianne undertook a comparative study of independent living for disabled people in Scotland and Norway; and spent nine months on an internship with the Welsh Government.
Dianne has faced several challenges around accessing written materials, editing large documents and finding support workers – but appreciates the support of the University in helping her overcome those issues.
She added: “I really valued the willingness of teaching staff to think out-of-the-box when I had to present my assignments in an alternative form, such as verbal rather than written.”
Describing her time at Stirling as “rewarding, stimulating and inspiring”, Dianne is now a Research Assistant at the University, working across two projects: