15 July 2002
Severely dyslexic student achieves dream of university degree
A severely dyslexic student who left school with only two O-Levels will graduate with honours at the University of Sussex graduation ceremony in Brighton on 18 July.
Helen Ball, 36, originally from Ealing in West London, wasn't suspected of having dyslexia until her O-Levels. At the time there was little help for those with dyslexia and Helen's marks suffered as a result. University, therefore, simply wasn't an option. However, after completing an access course, she applied for and was accepted on a BA Psychology degree at the University of Sussex.
Additionally, Helen also discovered she suffered from Benign Intracranial Hypertension, a condition that caused severe headaches and, at times, was so painful she was unable to attend lectures or study.
The University's Assistive Technology Centre supplied her with a range of technological equipment to help her with her studies, while the Student Support Unit monitored and helped her with her academic progress. This support enabled her to miss only one piece of work throughout her entire three-year degree.
For her final year Helen decided to do a project on how dyslexic people interact with technology. She says: "I suddenly realised that I didn't need to look on dyslexia as a hindrance. Rather, I could use all the knowledge I had on the subject to my benefit." Helen also became a mentor to provide peer support to struggling students.
Helen says of her studies at Sussex: "It's given me an amazing sense of self confidence. I left school with two O-Levels and now I have a degree. It's mind blowing, really."
Helen is now applying to do an MSc in Human Computer Interaction Systems, specialising in how dyslexic and non-dyslexic people use computers.
Notes for editors
Journalists and/or photographers are welcome to attend Helen's graduation ceremony at the Brighton Dome on the afternoon of 18 July. Alternatively, we have pictures of the graduand which we can send to you.
For further information, please contact Benedict Brook or Alison Field, University of Sussex, Tel. 01273 678888, Fax 01273 877456, B.J.Brook@sussex.ac.uk or A.Field@sussex.ac.uk.
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