Become a Vision Professional
By: Carmen Willings
Updated May 15, 2017
Whether you know or have worked with someone who is blind or visually impaired, you may be interested in how you can become a vision specialist. There is currently a shortage of Teachers of Students with Visual Impairments (TVI) as well as Orientation & Mobility Specialists (O&M) and Rehabilitation Specialists in the United States. In the United States, there is a shortage of certified teachers of students with visual impairments. Whether you've heard that there is a shortage in the field of visual impairments, you're friends or family with someone who is blind or visually impaired or you've worked with someone who is blind or visually , you may wonder how you too can become a vision professional.
Becoming a Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments (TVI)
If you enjoy collaborating with others, have strong report writing skills, are organized, have good time management skills, are willing to learn new technologies, like variety in your day, would like to work one-on-one with students ages birth to 21 and would like to make a difference in a student’s life, this may be the career for you! As a Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments (TVI), you will have the opportunity to improve the lives of students who are blind and visually impaired by providing specialized instruction and supportive services. The specialized instruction you provide to students will help prepare the student for each stage of life.
The TVI is a teacher first but has taken additional coursework to be specialized in visual impairments. To become a TVI, you must hold a teaching degree in general education or special education. Certification to be a TVI is an “Add-On” to your teaching license. Each state has different requirements but generally, you will be required to take approximately six courses specific to visual impairments. Coursework usually includes:
Additionally, most programs require that you complete an internship. Because there is a national shortage, there may be stipends available. The program will help you find a TVI in your area who can serve as your mentor. Some programs offer distance learning options. Learn about University VI Programs on the Professional Preparation Program page.
Becoming an Orientation and Mobility Specialist (O&M)
There is a shortage of Orientation & Mobility (O&M) specialists nationwide. An O&M specialist provides related services. As an O&M Specialist, you will teach students to move safely and efficiently through their environment and also teach spatial concepts for purposeful movement. To become an O&M specialist, a bachelor’s degree is required but it is not necessary to have a teaching certification. Most programs require that you take approximately eight courses and complete an internship. Many programs offer a combination of distance and on site learning options. Learn about University Programs on the Professional Preparation Program page. In addition to taking coursework and completing the internship, most states require O&M Specialists to become certified through the Academy of Certification of Vision Rehabilitation (ACVREP).
Becoming a Vision Rehabilitation Therapist (VRT)
Vision Rehabilitation Therapists (VRT), who were formerly known as Rehabilitation Teachers, are specialists in independent living. They teach people with limited vision to create new approaches to familiar routines so they can live on their own terms. VRT’s help students who transitioning from high school to college and career and also work with adults. To become a VRT, you must have a bachelor’s degree but it can be in any field. You will then need to obtain a master’s degree or a graduate certificate in Vision Rehabilitation Therapy. Some programs offer distance learning options. Learn about University Programs on the Professional Preparation Program page.
Itinerant teaching is very rewarding, but it can present many challenges as well. TVI’s must be able to work well with a variety of personalities to best support students and their teams. It is just as essential to be organized, flexible, reliable, and a team player as it is to be knowledgeable in your field. Seeking out professional development opportunities, developing a professional support system and continually striving to excel will foster growth in all TVI’s whether new to the field or those with years of experience. The intent of this session is to provide strategies for itinerant TVI’s to excel in their careers by providing specific strategies to improve their effectiveness as an itinerant VI professional. In this presentation, I share my experiences and what I've learned from over 21 years as a TVI, with the past 17 years being an itinerant teacher.
Itinerant teaching is very rewarding, but it can present many challenges as well. TVI’s must be able to work well with a variety of personalities to best support students and their teams. It is just as essential to be organized, flexible, reliable, and a team player as it is to be knowledgeable in your field. This hour-long presentation is packed full of tips and strategies from Carmen Willings who has been a full time Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments for over 20 years. This webinar is perfect for TVI's just entering the field and for all TVI's as they start the new school year!
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Sign up for free membership to access the FREE downloadable handbooks and handouts on the Free Printables page along with access to the Goal Bank pages. Simply click on the Log In | Register link in the navigation bar. If you haven't joined yet, you will be prompted to create a password.
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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."
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