From level 1 to University: Ibz blogs a blogs about his time at RNC
Ibz Iqbal, 20, from Birmingham, is heading to the University of Liverpool after an extraordinary journey at RNC. Here he tells his story in his own words:
‘I started to lose my sight from the age of around 12/13. Initially I was told I would not go blind, but after many confusions and hard times getting tested at the hospitals I was diagnosed at Great Ormond Street with kerataconus and bilateral retinal dystrophy.
‘My sight was deteriorating extremely fast and I had no idea what to do. I thought my life was screwed. Altogether I missed three years of education. I thought I would never have any sort of future or be able to go to university. I used to stay inside and avoid my friends because I was embarrassed of using a cane and hated relying on people to support me. I was very dependent on people guiding me around. I had no clue how to cook and never dreamed of being able to study.
‘I heard about RNC from the West Bromwich Albion Foundation who I play blind football for. Initially my goal at the college was to become an England blind footballer.
‘At the College I was able to meet people in my situation who had lost their sight, but they never let it stop them. They were passionate about their futures and made sure they never let their sight loss become a barrier to that. I aspired to be that person. It was very hard but I have managed to accept my sight loss and am much more independent. I can cook for myself, and I know my way around towns independently.
‘My life at the RNC has had a massive turn. I started on a Level 1 Sport and Recreation course and I completed the Level 2 alongside an IT qualification and braille course in my second year. In my third year I had to fight to do A Levels because I had missed so much education and they did not want to set me up for failure.
‘Initially I was predicted E grades at the start of the year. However after a lot of intense hard work I managed to get A* in my Level 3 Extended Project, and Cs in A Level Psychology and Sociology. I was only mark off a B in both. I was really shocked hearing these grades! The University of Liverpool gave me an unconditional offer to study Psychology, which I am absolutely thrilled about.
‘I have proven to myself that I can have a future despite my sight loss. I feel I will be able to transfer the skills I have learnt at RNC into my life. For example, living in a flat and cooking all my meals independently in my last two years at College will put me at an advantage to most people at university. Also my confidence and independence will now only grow.
‘The College has opened up many opportunities for me. I have been to Madrid and Berlin, which gave me the confidence to travel independently with my friends to other countries over the past three years. I have also flown a plane, which was hands-down the best experience in my life. People laugh when they hear it, but really a blind person was flying a plane! I have played in the National League for blind football, and now I have been entered for the National Para School Games at Loughborough University to compete in para tandem cycling. This is very exciting, and who knows where it could lead.
‘I would like to say a massive thank you to all the staff and students at the College, and also to the family and friends who have supported me over the years. I could not have come this far without you all!
Ibz also writes his own blog – you can keep up to date with his news at https://livingthroughthelifeofibz.wordpress.com/