PROFESSIONAL PREP PROGRAMS
By: Carmen Willings
There is currently a critical need for teachers of students with visual impairments as there is a nationwide shortage of professionals who work with students with visual impairments. Special certification is required for working with students with visual impairments. There are two professionals that work with students in school age programs: a Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments (TVI) and an Orientation and Mobility Specialist. It must be understood that each is a separate profession with separate professional standards.
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"I hope one day to see enough braille presses, libraries, schools, and training centers and teachers to assure all persons the opportunities they would have had, had they not been blind."
Most states states require that TVI's have a preexisting teaching certificate (typically in Special Education, Elementary Education, or Secondary Education) and a bachelors degree from an accredited university. The following is a list of colleges and universities in the United States that offer courses to prepare individuals for a career in education and rehabilitation of people who are visually impaired, deafblind, or have multiple disabilities. Each state has their own criteria for certification and licensure. It is your responsibility to determine if the program meets the criteria for the state in which you would like to work. If you are interested in pursuing certification in this much needed area, explore programs offered through the following universities. If you are aware of a program that is not listed here, please contact me so I can add them to this list.
California State University, Los Angeles offers an Educational Specialist Credential in Visual Impairment (VI) and a Master of Arts (MA) degree in Special Education with an emphasis in Visual Impairment. Courses in both the VI credential and MA program promote educational equity, collaboration, reflective practice, while maintaining mastery of the body of knowledge for the specific discipline of interest. Go directly to the University's Visual Impairment Program Page to learn more about the program.
Dominican College offers a Teacher of the Visually Impaired program with the option of an M.S. in Teachers of the Blind or Visually Impaired or certification only. The program prepares pre-service teachers in a non-traditional format to become skilled, ethical and respectful teachers of students who are blind or visually impaired. Most of the course work is offered online. An on-campus residency is scheduled for several days at the end of June. Two Sundays during the 4th quarter are required for the Orientation and Mobility for Teachers course. Go directly to the Visual Impairment Program Page to learn more about the program.
Florida State University prepares teachers of students with visual impairment at the bachelor's and master's degree levels. Candidates seeking certification receive comprehensive preparation in supporting students with visual impairments in a variety of educational placements and in teaching the expanded core curriculum. Students at the master's degree level take additional coursework that focuses on a specific ECC area, such as orientation and mobility, or on a specific group, such as preschoolers , adolescents in transition, or students with severe disabilities. All coursework is available at the main campus in Tallahassee or at satellite locations in the Tampa/St. Petersburg, or Miami/Ft. Lauderdale areas. Most instruction is provided using a traditional face-to-face format. Financial assistance is often available to students in these programs. Go directly to the University's Visual Impairment Program Page to learn more about the program.
The VI Consortium is the only academic program for preparing teachers of students with visual impairments in Virginia and is comprised of five universities: George Mason University, James Madison University, Norfolk State University, Old Dominion University, and Radford University. Its primary goal is to prepare teachers to be highly skilled at working with students with visual impairment and blindness. Completion of the VI program meets the Virginia Department of Education's required competencies for teachers of students with vision impairments. Go directly to the University's Visual Impairment Program Page to learn more about the program.
Hunter College, CUNY, offers several programs on the graduate level that prepare individuals to work with children and adults who are blind or visually impaired. These include a Master's Degree that focuses on preparing teachers of the visually impaired (TVI); an Advanced Certifcate program in TVI for individuals who already have NYS certifcation in any are of education; and an Advanced Certificate Program in O&M for individuals who have NYS certification as a TVI who want to obtain certification as a TVI. Go directly to the University's Visual Impairment Program Page to learn more about the program.
Illinois State University (ISU) offers a certification program as a Specialist in Low Vision and Blindness (LVB). The ISU LVB Program consists of a specific sequence of content-based curriculum of best practices for teaching children with all degrees of visual impairment across the entire age range of the pre-school through high school years. The program features a newly revised curriculum that includes an extensive emphasis on assistive technology. In addition to the LVB specific sequence of courses required of all teacher candidates in this major, the LVB Program provides many opportunities to work directly with students who have visual impairments. Go directly to the University's Visual Impairment Program Page to learn more about the program.
Indiana State University offers a graduate licensure program for licensed teachers in special education or general education. Individuals interested in expanding their education and obtaining additional experience as an instructor of the visually impaired will benefit from this program, which is funded by the Indiana Department of Education through the Promoting Achievement for Students with Sensory Loss (PASS) grant at Blumberg Center. Admission to the Visual Impairment Graduate Licensure Program is managed solely by "Promoting Achievement for Students with Sensory Loss (PASS)." It is mandatory that individuals contact PASS prior to applying for admission to the University. Go directly to the University's Visual Impairment Program Page to learn more about the program.
The Visual Impairment program in our College of Education is one of the oldest and most established of its kind in the state of Pennsylvania. Special Education majors pursuing a B.S. in Education/Visual Impairment will be part of an extraordinary network of students and faculty who make this program so outstanding among others of its kind. In this program, all elementary education certification requirements are met. Field experiences are provided and teacher candidates will experience them in both elementary education and visual impairment settings. The university has recently added a post baccalaureate distance TVI certification program in addition to the undergraduate program. Go directly to the University's Visual Impairment Program Page to learn more about the program.
Louisiana Tech University (Professional Development and Research Institute on Blindness) provides a professional preparation program for individuals entering the field of visual impairments. The Institute on Blindness has worked in partnership with the Louisiana Center for the Blind to develop the following graduate level programs: Master of Arts with Certification in Teaching Blind Students; Master of Education in Curriculum & Instruction with Cognate in Teaching Blind Students; and a Master of Arts in Industrial/ Organizational Psychology in Orientation & Mobility. Go directly to the University's Visual Impairment Program Page to learn more about the programs offered.
Mississippi State University offers graduate certificate training for rehabilitation counselors seeking to become Vision Specialists, annual K-12 teacher workshops, and educational outreach to school districts in North Mississippi. MSU-NRTC contracts with individual states to provide on-site training for VR personnel working with consumers with vision impairment, and state program evaluations and training needs assessments. Their National Technical Assistance Center on Blindness and Low Vision provides information for service providers, employers and consumers including short CEU/CRC courses for professionals, and transition helps and Forums. Go directly to the University's Visual Impairment Program Page to learn more about the program.
The Blindness & Low Vision Program and the Orientation and Mobility Certificate Program are designed for candidates with a Bachelor's degree and a minimum 2.50 overall cumulative GPA (2.75 for O&M Certificate). Both currently certified teachers and candidates with a bachelor's degree and no teaching certificate are eligible to apply for either program. The VI program is entirely online, however, the O&M coursework requires students to attend a blindfold course that is on campus. Go directly to the University's Visual Impairment Program Page to learn more about the program.
The Visual Impairment Training Program is a concentration of study in the Master's of Special Education at North Carolina Central University that prepares teachers of children who are visually impaired. The VITP is a distance education program with courses offered through a combination of on-campus weekend/summer classes and online study allowing students to continue working during the school year. As part of every program, candidates complete a minimum 350 hour internship in their specialty area. Go directly to the University's Visual Impairment Program Page to learn more about the program.
Northern State University offers a Visually Impaired Certificate. This special program for standard teacher certification in Visually Impaired is expected to be completed in two consecutive summer sessions. The program is comprised of two components and will be limited to 15 students each. Go directly to the University's Visual Impairment Program Page to learn more about the program.
Northern Illinois University offers a comprehensive program for training professionals to provide educational and rehabilitation services for persons of all ages who are visually disabled. The program consists of three components: Training teachers for work in the schools with children who have visual disabilities; Training orientation and mobility specialists to work with children and/or adults who are visually disabled; Training rehabilitation teachers to work with adults who have visual disabilities. Go directly to the University's Visual Impairment Program Page to learn more about the program.
The Ohio State University M.Ed. program is designed for individuals who wish to earn Ohio's Intervention Specialist: Visual Impairments license. They offer two programs. It is for students who are new to the field of blindness who want to be teachers of children with visual impairments in Ohio's public schools. The program leads to both the graduate degree and Ohio licensure and takes approximately five quarters of full-time study to complete. The first is a licensure only program that is available to teachers who have a current license and would like additional licensure in the area of visual impairment. No degree is awarded upon completion of this program, only a recommendations of the licensure to the Ohio Department of Education. The second program is for people who either want a Master's degree in visual impairment education or who do not have an initial licensure.
Portland State University is the regional university preparation program for the Pacific and Northwest Consortium for Vision Education (PNWCVE). The consortium is currently comprised of 4 states: Oregon, Washington, Hawaii and Montana. Portland State University offers a comprehensive, graduate level program for the preparation of teachers of students with vision impairments (TVIs) and leading to teacher licensure or endorsement. The program to prepare TVIs is a 2-year, distance education hybrid program that begins with an on-campus summer session in even numbered years. Go directly to the University's Visual Impairment Program Page to learn more about the program.
Salus University College of Education and Rehabilitation offers a Master of Education degree program and a certificate program for Teachers of Children with Visual and Multiple Disabilities. These competency-based programs offer coursework and practical experiences that develop the necessary knowledge and skills required for the instruction of infants, children, and youth who are totally blind or visually impaired and those with multiple disabilities. Both programs are offered for part and full-time study, with coursework primarily online during the fall and spring semesters, and a ten week summer residency at Salus University for two summers. Go directly to the University's Visual Impairment Program Page to learn more about the program.
The Program in Visual Impairments at San Francisco State University is designed for both pres-service and in-service professionals in the areas of Education Specialist Credential in Visual Impairment; Master of Arts in Special Education; as well as a Doctorate in Special Education. Go directly to the University's Visual Impairment Program Page to learn more about the program.
Texas Tech University's College of Education offers the required curriculum for the Texas State Board for Educator Certification Visual Impairment Supplemental Certificate EC-12 online. Certification also requires the successful completion of two TExES examinations. The Visual Impairment Certification Preparation Program is available both as a stand-alone certificate or an area of emphasis with the Masters of Education in Special Education. All coursework is offered via distance education with three face-to-face weekends in Texas required. Go directly to the University's Visual Impairment Program Page to learn more about the program.
The Visual Impairments (VI) program at UAB includes Traditional and 5th Year Non-Traditional Degree in Special Education. Students attend lectures, work collaboratively and individually on assignments, work hands on with students who have visual impairments as well as other disabilities and observe teaching strategies under masters level teachers in various departments and other appropriate agencies. Go directly to the University's Visual Impairment Program Page to learn more about the program.
The University of Arizona offers a graduate-level program leading to a specialization in teaching children who are visually impaired: TVI, or Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments. Nationally recognized for excellence, this program prepares individuals to provide services in this challenging and rewarding profession. Their graduates are successfully employed in school districts, special schools, and agencies in Arizona as well as in other states across the country. Financial assistance is often available to students enrolled in this program. Go directly to the University's Visual Impairment Program Page to learn more about the program.
The Northeast Regional Center for Vision Education (NERCVE) is an established center within the Institute for Community Inclusion that is academically affiliated with the University of Massachusetts Boston, School of Global Inclusion and Social Development. The Vision Studies program at UMass Boston is New England's only academic center for preparing Teachers of Students with Visual Impairments Orientation and Mobility Specialists and Vision Rehabilitation Therapists, three key specialties which assist people with visual impairments to achieve their goals of high quality education, fulfilling employment, and safe/independent travel. NERCVE is committed to improving education for individuals with visual impairments through: personnel preparation, professional development, technology & research. Coursework is offered online with some Saturdays. Go directly to the University's Visual Impairment Program Page to learn more about the program.
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln offers a graduate level program leading to a teaching endorsement in Visual Impairments. Go directly to the University's Visual Impairment Program Page to learn more about the program.
The University of Northern Colorado offers a Master’s Degree program in the area of Visual Impairment and an endorsement in Orientation and Mobility. The master’s degree in Visual Impairment is designed to prepare teachers who will work with students who are visually impaired in schools. Go directly to the University's Visual Impairment Program Page to learn more about the program.
The Vision Studies Program at the University of Pittsburgh prepares professionals to serve the academic and Orientation and Mobility (O&M) needs of children and/or adults who are blind or visually impaired. This Program enables students to acquire single and/or dual certification as a Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments (TVI) and/or as an O&M Specialist with an option for completing a Master of Education (MEd) degree in a unique hybrid program model (online and on-campus). Go directly to the University's Visual Impairment Program Page to learn more about the program.
The Master of Education in Visual Impairment Program is shaped and aligned with the School of Education's core values and disposition and the standards set by the Council for Exceptional Children. The SC Department of Education requirements for endorsement in visual impairment have also been embedded into the program. Candidates in the program are typically full-time teachers from across the state. Thus, the two-year program offers live classes at the South Carolina School for the Deaf and the Blind in the summer and distance learning classes in the fall and spring. Go directly to the University's Visual Impairment Program Page to learn more about the program.
The Program in Visual Disabilities in the Department of Special Education, Vanderbilt Peabody College, currently is in receipt of a federal grant to prepare teachers of students with visual impairments (children with low vision and blindness). The program seeks general education and special education teachers who are interested in an M.Ed degree specific to Visual Impairments. Go directly to the University's Visual Impairment Program Page to learn more about the program.
This 50 hour degree program prepares teachers to work with children with visual impairments in public and residential schools. Instruction is provided in skills to support the regular educational curriculum as well as the expanded core curriculum specific to children with visual impairments. Graduates are eligible to become certified teachers of children with visual impairments. Students may choose to combine this degree program with preparation as an orientation and mobility specialist to attain dual competency in the Master of Arts in Teaching Children Who are Visually Impaired/Master of Arts in Orientation and Mobility for Children program. Go directly to the University's Visual Impairment Program Page to learn more about the program.