Visually Impaired Middlesex CC Alum Sets Her Sights High

Stephanie Valdés has memorized Middlesex Community College’s Bedford campus – her mental map and service dog, Luna, guiding her from building to building. Legally blind and only able to see some colors and shapes, she flourished at MCC and is learning not to let her disability stand in the way of her dreams.

Valdés, of Bradford, heard about Middlesex from her counselor at the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind, who told her the college has excellent disability support services. Determined to succeed, she enrolled in the World Languages Program – she speaks Spanish and English, and has studied French, German and Arabic. Valdés graduated with an associate degree in May.

In class, Valdés used adaptive technology provided by MCC’s Office of Disability Support Services. These services included a screen reader and a device that scans and reads printed hand-outs. She also created audio recordings of her classes, and made use of a scribe who took notes for her in class.

Outside of class Valdés enjoys fencing at the International Fencing Club. She also traveled to Morocco last January for 10 days as part of an International Fellowship Program. “Being exposed to a totally different culture was interesting to me and is part of learning the language,” she said.

Her future plans include enrolling in a six- to nine-month independent learning program in Minneapolis, run by Blind Inc. and the National Federation of the Blind. It will enable Valdés to learn more skills and techniques, and help her to travel more by herself.

After that program, Valdés plans to continue her education and earn a bachelor’s degree, double-majoring in linguistics and French. Her ultimate goal is to become an interpreter or perhaps earn a master’s degree in speech pathology.

Valdés credits some of her growing confidence to how well she has been treated at MCC. “I never encountered a professor who was not flexible. They all helped me, or met with me and accommodated me as much as possible.

“One of the things I will take away from my experience at Middlesex is that everybody believed in me every step of the way,” said Valdés. “They don’t see blindness as something that can stop me. And now, it is easier for me to advocate for myself. I can do whatever I want to do.”

It’s not too late to register for fall semester. Classes begin Tuesday, Sept. 4. (New students must register by 6 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 28.) Call 1-800-818-3434 or visit:

To learn more about Disability Support Services at Middlesex, visit:

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