Blind student's double first at Cambridge

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The Independent Online
The admissions authorities at Cambridge University were sceptical when Nikhil Nair, blind since the age of nine, applied to take a chemistry degree. Three years on, the university's first ever blind science student has gained the top first class honours degree in his subject at Trinity College, and one of the highest firsts overall.

Nikhil, 21 (right), who also scooped two university prizes and will return to Cambridge in the autumn to begin a research degree in quantum chemistry, astonished tutors with his resourcefulness in overcoming his disability.

He revised lecture notes from a computer with the aid of a Braille synthesiser and voice box, and was able to "read" diagrams drawn by tutors in blunt pencil on acetate film. In the lab, only experiments with the most dangerous chemicals were out of bounds.

With four A grades at A-level and the determination to apply, Nikhil was ideally qualified, according to his personal tutor, Dr Hugh Hunt. "He has been fantastic and we are absolutely delighted."

Fellow studentshave grown used to the sight of Nikhil speeding around the quads and stairways at a smart pace "I decided I could walk slowly and not bump into anything or I could walk at a pace I wanted and have the occasional collision. I chose the latter," Nikhil said.