Low vision scholarships offer assistance to this special category of students wishing to pursue higher education. These scholarships are for the full spectrum of students with various degrees of visual impairment, including children, high school, college undergraduate and graduate students. The organizations that offer the scholarships do so on the basis of low-vision expertise.
In Los Angeles, California, the Dr. Bill Takeshita Foundation (drbillfoundation.org) enables underprivileged children with visual impairment to have low vision aids and services applicants through the nonprofit Center for the Partially Sighted. Dr. Takeshita lost his own vision in 2003, and subsequently established the program to assist children and their families. Applications for the Foundation’s scholarships require a letter of recommendation from a teacher or school nurse that specifies the type of low vision aid requested, a verification statement from the child’s eye care professional, income verification and latest tax return, and a letter from the parent or doctor. The scholarship value is undisclosed.
High School Seniors
The ViewFinder Low Vision Resource Center (viewfinderlowvision.com) college scholarship offers an annual award to an Arizona high school senior towards college education despite the effects of visual impairment. ViewFinder’s mission is to provide the tools to improve quality of life, emphasizing the many accomplishments that are possible when overcoming visual impairment. The value of the scholarships is undisclosed.
The Florida Council of the Blind (fcb.org) offers selected scholarships for exceptional students pursuing academic degrees or professional training. The scholarships are for full-time and part-time studies in a college or university or a technical institute. Only legally blind applicants with high school diplomas or about to graduate, with a minimum 3.0 GPA, and who are residents of the State of Florida qualify for consideration. It is not mandatory for their accredited college or university to be in Florida, but a letter of acceptance is a requirement. Full-time students carry a minimum of 12 credit hours per semester while part-time college, university or technical school students carry at least six credit hours per semester. As of 2011, an eligible applicant with exceptional academic and leadership skills received a $2,000 scholarship. A $750 award went to a part-time college, university or technical school student.
The American Foundation for the Blind (afb.org) in Huntington, West Virginia, offers an array of scholarships in different fields and with a range of requirements. Applications call for an essay, transcript, proof of college or university acceptance, two letters of recommendation, proof of U.S. citizenship and proof of legal blindness. As an example, graduate students are eligible to apply for the Karen D. Carsel Memorial Scholarship for full-time studies. Proof of economic need is an application requirement. The Foundation requests a copy of the Student Aid Report, a section in the Free Application For Federal Student Aid application that is accessible on the FAFSA homepage (fafsa.com). As at 2011, the scholarship value was $500.