Manhattanville Reid Castle In the Spring

College-Bound Blind Students Learn The Ropes Of Campus Life During A Manhattanville Summer Program
Tuesday, 17 September 2013 09:57

Purchase, NY, July  3, 2013 -- Twenty-eight legally blind, college-bound high school juniors and seniors in Metro New York will live on Manhattanville College’s campus for four weeks beginning  July 13 to learn how to make their college life a success.

The pre-college program, funded by the New York State Commission for the Blind, is being administered by VISIONS Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired, a nonprofit service agency based in New York, in collaboration with Manhattanville College’s Office of Disability Services.  Of the 28 students, one-third are blind and the others, while legally blind, have varying degrees of residual vision.

“This is a great opportunity for legally blind students to learn how to live more independently than they are accustomed to in high school, where they reside at home,” said Carin Horowitz, Director of Disability Services & Title IX Coordinator at Manhattanville.  “The intent of this innovative program is to provide blind students with the tools and encouragement needed for academic, personal and social success in college.” 

All students will live for a month in dorms on campus; be trained in independent living skills by VISIONS staff; take a course in online writing skills taught by Echoes Instructional Design; and attend 12, three-hour “introduction to college life” classes on topics ranging from goal setting to career exploration and time management, taught by Manhattanville’s professional staff. 

Sharlise Smith-Rodriguez, coordinating director for Manhattanville’s Centers for Academic Excellence, explains one of the classes, Career Exploration.  “Students complete a survey about their interests, values and skills and then, based on their answers they discuss career options, such as social work or teaching, with the career development staff person teaching the course.  The survey helps give them direction in choosing a career and what courses to take to advance that career.”

While these same courses are taught to freshmen at Manhattanville, the summer courses give blind high-school students a jump start on knowing about careers and other topics, such as where to go if they are having financial or academic problems.   

One of the students,  18 year-old Kyle Guttmann of Yorktown Heights, will be a freshman at Manhattanville this fall.  He is taking the summer course so that when he arrives on campus he can hit the ground running.

“When I arrive on campus, I want to focus on my studies (he likes music production and theory) and not spend time learning how to physically get around campus and to learn new technology,” said Kyle.   He will take notes during the classes using a laptop that has a screen reader that verbalizes what he types.

The state’s five year, $1 million downstate grant not only helps blind students adapt to campus life, but allows the NYS Commission for the Blind, which provides tuition expenses for many of the students, to gauge their readiness for a college education and campus life.

About Manhattanville College:

Manhattanville College ( is an independent, co-educational liberal arts institution dedicated to academic excellence and social and civic action. Manhattanville prepares students to be ethical and socially responsible leaders in a global community. Located just 30 minutes from New York City, Manhattanville serves 1,700 undergraduate students and 1,000 graduate students from more than 50 countries and 30 states. Founded in 1841, the College offers more than 50 undergraduate areas of study in the arts and sciences, and offers graduate programs in Education, Business, and Creative Writing, as well as Continuing and Executive Education programs. 


VISIONS is an 87-year-old nonprofit social service and vision rehabilitation agency promoting the independence of people of all ages with vision loss.

About the New York State Commission for the Blind:

The New York State Commission for the Blind operates within the state Office of Children and Family Services and provides vocational rehabilitation and other direct services to legally blind New York State residents, including children, adults, and elderly persons. One of its primary objectives is to assist consumers in achieving economic self-sufficiency and full integration into society. For more information visit: