Life of a Student

blue star

A significant percentage of disabled people have to deal with hidden or invisible disabilities which makes it super challenging to perform daily activities. An invisible disability, such as Stargardt’s disease is one which is not directly visible through a person’s exterior. To shed some light on daily life with an invisible disability, I will share my personal experience as a university student and how this shaped me in unplanned ways.

I was clinically diagnosed with Stargardt’s disease in 2020, just before transition into university for my bachelors. It was difficult coming to terms with the fact that I have a genetic disorder with gradual central vision loss. I was heartbroken seeing the lack of awareness and sensitivity towards this disease in my country. Because of this ignorance, I faced various infrastructural barriers at university and even with using public transport for daily commuting. I had a really tough time reading navigations at metro stations and thus used my phone’s camera for the same. During lectures at university, I was unable to read content written on the blackboard even if sitting on the front seat. I was, and am still, unable to read printed books with normal font size and so had to use a magnifier. As a biology student, I had regular laboratory sessions and practical which were challenging to perform with low vision. Moreover, small equipment labels and measuring scales made it even worse and stressful for my eyes. The disease also hampered my personal relations as it was impossible for me to recognise people’s face from a distance which made them believe that I am rude.

Regardless of all these negative impacts, I always pushed myself to strive for betterment. I never let Stargardt’s come in between my way for success and have faced all the obstacles with a positive approach. My professors and friends always assisted me in academics which made it a hassle-free journey. My experience as a university student with Stargardt’s proves that there is hope even in the darkest of times.

Sindhu Khanna