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Integration not only way to success

I congratulate Mark Lister on gaining his place at Keele University (TES, March 17), but it is regrettable that these articles on special needs perpetuate the myth that integrating young people with a visual impairment into mainstream education allows them access to opportunities unavailable to their peers in special education.

Keele University was singled out as being remarkable in offering a place to a student with a visual impairment. Keele had a blind student 10 years ago, who, having been prepared for higher education in a setting that appreciated the organisational difficulties that will beset a student with a visual impairment was prepared for all the "work that has to go into administrative jobs".

This young woman, having obtained a good range of O-levels and A-levels in a specialist setting, was so well equipped with the skills and confidence necessary to compete effectively in a mainstream setting that she won a university prize for philosophy.

Each year about 25 students from this college enter higher education to follow degree and HND courses alongside their sighted peers.

While some of these students have been educated mainly in a segregated setting, others have failed to achieve in a mainstream setting often because they have been denied the opportunity to demonstrate their academic ability owing to lack of resources and expertise.

COLIN HOUSBY-SMITH, Principal

Royal National College for the Blind

Hereford

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