Professional Preparation Programs
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.
By: Carmen Willings
updated July 29, 2019
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.
The Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired identifies university programs that have successfully completed the a university review process and have earned the distinction of "AER Approved". According to AER's website, "approval is given to programs that demonstrated adherence to high quality standards that lead to a valuable academic experience; and the competencies needed for employment and certifications." I have indicated the programs below that are AER approved.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Louisiana Tech University
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The TVI's Guide to Teaching the ECC Complete Set includes the following:
The LOTTO Cards Grab and Go Supplement includes 37 theme related unit cards along with activity suggestions that support activities within the TVI's Guide to Teaching the ECC.
On My Way File Folder Cards
Print and use these cards to represent locations the student may visit that are related to the current thematic unit. Use these with the On My Way File Folder Game outlined in the TVI's Guide to Teaching the ECC p. 27.
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