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About me

Self presentation

I am Tim in 't Veld (22), computer science student at Utrecht University (Netherlands). Although I have limited remaining vision I depend on braille and tactile drawings.

Facinated by technology from an early age, I wanted to specialise in science subjects in secundary school. Unfortunately, the Dutch institutes for the blind had no expertise in teaching such subjects to blind pupils at pre-academic level, and actually believed studying in this area to be impossible for blind people. Therefore policy was to encourage if not force blind pupils interested in science to choose social or other "easier" subjects instead.

However, my mother (Dorine in 't Veld) and I were aware of blind people successfully studying and working in science areas abroad thanks to various international contacts.
What followed was a lengthy effort to convince the Dutch government and institutes for the blind that studying sciences is indeed possible, involving a tireless lobbying effort by Dorine and visits we made to New College, Worcester (UK) and Marburg (Germany).Those schools for the blind routinely educate blind pupils in science areas. We ultimately succeded.

With extensive support from my school and the institute for the blind, financially supported by the Dutch ministry of education, the "Newton Project" allowed me to become the first blind science pre-academic gratuate in a long time, recovering the expertise needed to help ceveral others succeed in doing the same since then.

After my graduation in 2006 I started my physics studies in Utrecht. The first year was a busy and very enjoyable year with settling into student life, joining a fraternity and exchanging my parental home for a room in Utrecht. Unfortunately, inspite of great support from the university study-wise the first year was less of a success. Results were very poor and more importantly I felt I lacked the mathematical skills to succeed in physics. I had trouble mastering the large and complex formulae in physics. While I think I might lack some of the extreme mathematical ability demanded in physics, a lack of overview over the lateX formulae and the fact that (inspite of getting a lot of help from the university) I had to be my own expert when it came to mathematical notations, tactile drawings and all other assistive technology-related stuff may well have played a significant role.

So for the second year I decided to switch to computer science, a field which always had my interest and involves slightly less complex mathematics. Currently I'm in the computer science bachelor phase. Besides I do a litle computer-related work, I am involved in liberal youth politics and try to sport when time permits (a lot of long distance walking using Wayfinder Access, fitness and cycling).

Finally, a bit on my involvement with Summer University. I was at ICCHP 2006 and 2008, where I had many interesting conversations with a lot of people (well that's what conferences are ultimately about!), but I also realised for me as a blind student there was not much to be learned from most of the workshops. Most of them are powerpoint presentations rapidly going past a lot of interesting products and projects, but for a student to know wether a product is useful while studying some more extensive, hands-on demonstration is essential. And I realised that while there are a lot of very interesting solutions to help blind science students succeed, many of them are unknown to most students. Institutional knowledge of solutions is often lacking regionally (because blind science students are an extremely small group), so basically the only way to be aware of solutions available is to explore them all on the internet, install them and read every manual. But with this sort of complex products this takes a huge amount of time and we are busy enough studying and participating in student life as it is!

So I sat together with some people at ICCHP2008 and we conceived this summer university to be the first platform where science accessibility products can be demonstrated to students hands-on. We will see a lot of interesting solutions and get tips on how to use them, while SU also allows the scientists and companies developing those niche products to get in touch with their major user group of science students and it can be a platform to exchange ideas on those solutions. We shall also discuss the issues blind science students face and talk about ways to improve the situation. Last but not least summer university is the first international event bringing blind science students from all over the world together and allowing us to share experiences and best practices.
So it's great to see this plan realised, thanks to all the efforts of the organizers in Linz, Karlsruhe and various other places! See you on sunday and I'm looking forward to an interesting, fruitfusl and enjoyable SU and ICCHP!
Tim in 't Veld

Business card

Tim in't Veld
Work or study place
Utrecht, NLD

Leuvenplein 66
3584LD Utrecht


Member for
7 years 3 months