by Carmen Willings
Revised February 24, 2022
People who are blind or visually impaired are a very diverse group. Vision professionals must be prepared to meet the needs of all the individuals on their caseloads, determine eligibility, understand medical implications of visual impairments, perform evaluations and provide resources to families and teams. This can be a challenge as caseloads change from year to year as do the needs of the individuals they serve. It can be difficult to recall a wide range of information as well as locate resources and products for students. It is my hope that the information contained within this section will help you in your profession.
If you have never worked with an individual with a visual impairment before, you may wonder who the professionals are that work with and support that person and what exactly they do. Depending on the age of the individual, they may work with a Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments or a Vocational Rehabilitation Instructor. The person who has a visual impairment may be referred to other specialists such as an Orientation and Mobility Specialist or a Low Vision Specialist, and you may wonder what their roles are. School age individuals may also need the support of a braillist or a paraprofessional and you may be curious about their role. This area will link you to pages that will answer these questions as well as questions you may have about becoming a vision professional.
Professionals must maintain the professional practice, ethics and uphold standards. Professional practice should include standards for high-quality instruction as well as ongoing professional development to remain current on best practice and excel in your career as a vision specialist. To be effective in your role as a vision specialist, you must strive to be a professional. Professionals work effectively with teams and have a hunger to continue to learn and grow in their profession. Learn strategies to excel in your career and about industry awards and recognition. The following pages will support you as you seek ways to grow in your career.
The AER Accreditation Program for institutions of higher education is designed to ensure that colleges and universities across the United States and abroad are offering O&M, TVI, LVT, VRT and AT personnel preparation programs that meet high-quality standards. They have identified standards of knowledge for each area of certification. These checklists are excellent tools to assess the areas in which you need to develop or improve as a professional.
Although incidental learning and taking advantage of teachable moments is a critical instructional strategy, there must be planning and organization at the foundation of your instruction to be an effective teacher. In order to be effective as an instructor, you must intentionally plan for instruction, complete tasks within a timely manner and maintain organization. Professional practice should include standards for high-quality instruction. In order to be effective as an instructor, you must intentionally plan for instruction, complete tasks within a timely manner and maintain organization. Learn strategies for instructional planning and organization within the following pages.
Free Matter for the Blind. If the student is legally blind, remember that he is entitled to send and receive certain materials through the US Postal Service for free. Materials such as textbooks, educational materials, Braille letters, and books on tape from The Library for the Blind may be mailed without postage. The package/envelope must have the words "free matter for the blind" stamped or handwritten on them. It is important to remember that these materials must be for the use of someone who is legally blind so be cautious.
It is not only important to obtain professional publications while you are taking your initial coursework, it is important to continue to research and add to your professional library. Expanding your knowledge base and staying current on best practice will help you excel in your career and positively impact the individuals you serve. These pages contain resources on publications specific to instructing individuals who are blind or visually impaired. Within these pages, learn more about:
Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not."
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