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An Introduction

6 October 2021

By Ciara Griffiths

My name is Ciara Griffiths, I am nineteen years old and I am a new Social Media Ambassador at BucksVision. As mentioned in the newsletter, I have entered my second year at Royal Holloway University of London to read philosophy. I enjoy reading and writing historical fiction novels (history is a big interest of mine).  I am also a keen archer. I will be discussing my six-year archery journey in a later blog. 

I was born with congenital glaucoma and was diagnosed with aniridia and Peter’s anomaly. Peter’s anomaly led to me being completely blind in my left eye. Aniridia, a Greek term, means ‘without iris’. As I have no irises, my pupils cannot change when faced with light, leaving them extremely sensitive to it. This extreme sensitivity is called photophobia. Therefore, I have to wear sunglasses when I am outside to protect my eyes. My shortsightedness leads to me having no depth perception. When it comes to snow, grass and leaves, everything is the same level to me. I struggle to see steps, bumps and slopes in these conditions. Photo of Ciara

From primary school up until sixth form, all my work was enlarged to size 18. Even my exam papers were enlarged so I could read them. This did lead to some difficulties in secondary school. The graphs in maths, for example, were always hard to enlarge to scale. I was advised against taking geography GCSE, for the maps and images would (apparently) be too hard to enlarge – not that I was planning on taking geography GCSE anyway. I was also advised against taking history for the same reason, which did come as a blow, as history is one of my many passions. When it came to music GCSE, we had to annotate a score, and the only way my score could be enlarged properly was for it to be on A3 paper. This was not ideal, so I ended up learning the music from listening to it. Even taking music technology came with its share of challenges when it came to enlarging the practical exam paper. However, my A-Level exam papers never did have to be enlarged after COVID-19 led to A-Levels and GCSEs being cancelled.

When it came to thinking about university, I visited several open days. I particularly looked out for the support and services universities offered for people with disabilities.  I chose Royal Holloway as my firm choice because it appeared the most disability-friendly campus. The steps were clearly marked with yellow paint, the disability department were supportive and welcoming, and the campus was gorgeous! I am most grateful for the support of Holloway’s Disability and Dyspraxia Services. Through hard work and not sitting any exams, I got into Royal Holloway to read philosophy. I am looking forward to continuing my studies and working as a volunteer with BucksVision.