Vision Studies (MEd)

Program Overview

UMass Boston's School for Global Inclusion and Social Development is New England's only academic center for preparing teachers of students with visual impairment, orientation and mobility specialists, and visual rehabilitation therapists. These are three key specialties that assist people with visual impairment to achieve their goals of high-quality education, fulfilling employment, and safe independent travel.

Deadlines

Teacher of Students with Visual Impairment
Summer admission: March 1
Spring admission: November 1

Orientation and Mobility
Summer admission: March 1

Vision Rehabilitation Therapy
Fall admission: June 1

TVI Track

The teacher of students with visual impairment (TVI) program trains participants to work with students who are blind or have low vision, as well as with their families. Through courses, field-based experiences, and practica, learners focus on designing, implementing, and advocating for inclusive learning settings for children with visual impairment, who may also have additional disabilities. The program also covers assessment and instruction in the expanded core curriculum for students with visual impairment.

Participants in the TVI program include general education teachers, special educators, and other specialists in related fields.

The program offers a 37-credit sequence of course work, including 100 hours of monitored pre-practicum field-based experience. It also includes a practicum (300 clock hours minimum) that partially fulfills the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education requirements for initial licensure. This license is valid for five years.

O&M Track

The discipline of orientation and mobility (O&M) teaches people with visual impairments to orient themselves and travel safely with confidence. Participants in our O&M program learn to evaluate needs and to teach the use of equipment as the long cane and low vision aids, as well as the integration of a professionally trained dog guide.

Students learn how to teach travel skills in a variety of environments, including indoor, residential, business, rural, and urban areas. The curriculum addresses the art of teaching such skills across the lifespan to both children and adults, as well as those with additional disabilities.

The MEd in O&M leads to specialized work with people who are blind or visually impaired. Candidates are provided a sequence of course work, field-based experiences, and practica that fulfill requirements prescribed by the Association for the Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired.

Successful completion of the curriculum, along with faculty recommendation, qualifies the student to sit for the national professional examination in O&M offered by the Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals, or ACVREP. Completing the curriculum and passing this examination leads to national professional certification in orientation and mobility.

The program offers a 37-credit sequence of course work, including 100 hours of monitored pre-practicum field-based experience. It also includes a practicum (350 hours minimum) that partially fulfills the ACVREP requirements for professional certification. This certification is valid for five years.

VRT Track

Professionals in vision rehabilitation therapy (VRT) enhance the vocational opportunities, independent living, and educational development of people with vision loss. This may include working in center-based or itinerant settings. Participants in our VRT program learn to evaluate and teach daily living skills and strategies for safe, independent living for those with visual impairment.

Candidates for the MEd proceed through a sequence of course work, field-based experiences, and practica to fulfill eligibility requirements as prescribed by the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired and the Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation & Education Professionals, or ACVREP. Successful completion of the curriculum, along with faculty recommendation, qualifies the student to sit for the national examination in Vision Rehabilitation Therapy offered by ACVREP.

The program offers a 37-credit sequence of courses, including 100 hours of monitored, community-engaged pre-practicum. It also includes a practicum (350 hours minimum) that partially fulfills the ACVREP requirements for professional certification and is valid for five years.

Courses

Dual concentration has overlap of some courses. See course lists below.

Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments (TVI)

Total Credits Required for MEd: 37
VISN 602 Education of Students with Visual Impairments 3 credits
VISN 603 Braille 3 credits
VISN 604 Visual Functioning 3 credits
VISN 605 Implications of Low Vision 3 credits
VISN 610 Braille Communications II 3 credits
VISN 611 Technology and Visual Impairments 3 credits
VISN 612 O&M and Independent Living 4 credits
VISN 613 Assessment for Students with VI and Additional Disabilities 4 credits
VISN 614 Instructional Strategies for VI and Additional Disabilities 4 credits
VISN 648 Cerebral/Cortical Visual Impairment 3 credits
VISN 619 Practicum in Teacher of Students with Visual Impairment (300 clock hours) 4 credits

Orientation and Mobility (Certification)

Total Credits: 28
VISN 601 Physical/Functional Aspects of VI 3 credits
VISN 603 Braille 3 credits
VISN 604 Visual Functioning 3 credits
VISN 605 Implications of Low Vision 3 credits
VISN 621 O&M Assessment: Children 4 credits
VISN 622 O&M Assessment: Adults 4 credits
VISN 625 Methods of O&M 3 credits
VISN 628 O&M Praxis Lab 1 credit
VISN 629 Practicum in Orientation & Mobility (350 hours) 4 credits

Additional Required Courses for MEd in O&M

Total Credits Required for Degree: 37
VISN 602 Education of Students with Visual Impairments 3 credits
VISN 640 Psycho-Social Aspects of VI 3 credits
VISN 646 Introduction to Audiology: Human Auditory System 3 credits

Please see www.nercve.umb.edu for more details.

Vision Rehabilitation Therapy (Certificate)

Total Credits: 28
VISN 601 Physical/Functional Aspects of VI 3 credits
VISN 603 Braille 3 credits
VISN 604 Visual Functioning 3 credits
VISN 605 Implications of Low Vision 3 credits
VISN 630 Introduction to VRT with Lab 4 credits
VISN 631 Methods of VRT I with Lab 4 credits
VISN 632 Methods of VRT II with Lab 4 credits
VISN 639 Practicum in Vision Rehabilitation Therapy (350 hours) 4 credits

Additional Required Courses for MEd in VRT

Total Credits Required for Degree: 37
REHAB 612 Vocational Rehabilitation & Placement 3 credits
VISN 640 Psycho-Social Aspects of VI 3 credits
VISN 646 Intro to Audiology: Human Auditory System 3 credits

Please see www.nercve.umb.edu for more details.
 

Degree Requirements

Candidates for the MEd in vision studies teacher licensure will be provided with a sequence of course work, field-based experiences, and practica to fulfill eligibility requirements as prescribed by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), or Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals (ACVREP).

Successful completion of the capstone experience (a practicum and capstone portfolio) is a requirement for all master’s candidates. This capstone experience is fulfilled within the practicum in vision impairment for all three of our tracks.

Non-matriculated students may enroll in a maximum of 2 courses in this program with the approval of the department. These courses can be transferred into matriculated study after admission. The program faculty will advise each matriculated student about the appropriate program of study leading to licensure and/or certification under state/national regulations.

Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments (TVI)

Students in the TVI track of the Vision Studies Program are required to submit a capstone portfolio of completed graduate work as outlined upon acceptance into the program.

TVI candidates complete a 37-credit track. The program consists of sequenced coursework, field-based experiences, and practica aligned with the Massachusetts DESE for initial licensure.

Orientation and Mobility (O&M)

Students in the O&M track may pursue the master's or the certificate. Candidates for the certificate in orientation and mobility progress through a sequence of course work, field-based experiences, and practica to fulfill eligibility requirements as prescribed by the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AERBVI) and ACVREP.

Master's candidates also submit a capstone portfolio during the practicum semester.

The master's degree requires 37 credits. The total credits required for the certificate will vary, depending on the candidate’s background and related course work.

Vision Rehabilitation Therapists (VRT)

Students in the VRT track may complete the master's or the certificate. Candidates progress through a sequence of coursework, field-based experiences, and practica to fulfill eligibility requirements as prescribed by ACVREP.

Master's candidates also submit a capstone portfolio during the practicum semester.

The master's degree requires 37 credits. The total credits required for the certificate will vary, depending on the candidate's background and related course work.

Please see www.nercve.org for more details on these degree requirements.

Program Outcomes

Within our three vision studies programs, students develop knowledge and skills in the following areas:

  1. The philosophical, historical, and legal foundations of special education and rehabilitation services for individuals with visual impairment.
  2. Anatomy and physiology of the eye, refraction, clinical testing procedures, and major visual disorders.
  3. Low vision concepts and methods for integrating visual needs and adapted equipment within an educational/rehabilitation environment.
  4. Environmental and attitudinal barriers that people with disabilities face, and the influence of multicultural differences and gender on people with disabilities, specifically those with visual impairment.
  5. Psychosocial aspects of vision loss, e.g., coping techniques and issues of self-esteem, as well as principles of self-determination.
  6. Physical and functional aspects of visual impairment, including impact on and use of systems of the body, e.g., all remaining senses and sensory integration.
  7. Reading and writing of contracted, literary braille, including the Unified English Braille code.
  8. Assessment and instructional strategies to meet the unique lifelong needs of individuals with visual impairment and additional disabilities.
  9. Assessment, acquisition, and implementation of assistive technology to foster academic independence for individuals with visual impairment.
  10. The functional implications of vision loss on primary activities of daily living and safe, indoor travel skills, with emphasis on exploration of life skills essential to independence.
  11. Advanced braille tools for TVIs used in mathematics, including Nemeth Code, Scientific Notebook software, and the abacus, as well as braille formats typical of educational materials.
  12. Principles of concept development, spatial orientation, and environmental analysis for O&Ms as these topics relate to independent travel by individuals who are visually impaired.

Teacher Licensure

The licensure of educational personnel requires a bachelor’s degree and the completion of a program that has been approved by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), with courses and field work that include at least 100 hours of pre-practicum field observations and a supervised student teaching experience or practicum.

In addition, DESE requires satisfactory performance on a test of proficiency in written and spoken English, and on competency examinations in a field of knowledge.

For those seeking licensure as a teacher of students with visual impairments, the field of knowledge is covered in the General Curriculum Test, which addresses the range of subjects covered in the elementary curriculum.

All candidates must also pass a Foundations of Reading Test. Individuals who have completed such a program and have passed the Massachusetts Tests for Teacher Licensure will be granted initial licensure, and are eligible to teach in a public school.

Those holding initial licensure have up to five years from the time they are first employed to complete the additional requirements for Professional Licensure. These include a master’s degree and successful teaching experience.

Professional Licensure is renewable every five years. Re-licensure requires the accumulation of Professional Development Points and the payment of a fee.

Careers for Graduates

Teachers of students with visual impairments are in great demand throughout the United States. There are jobs available at local school districts, regional collaborative districts, state agencies, and schools for the blind.

Orientation and mobility graduates may work in school districts, collaboratives, adult rehabilitation programs, and the Veterans Administration.

Vision rehabilitation therapists work in state vocational services for the blind, rehabilitation units of Veterans Administration hospitals, programs for elders with visual impairments, private nonprofit organizations, rehabilitation agencies, low vision clinics, or in private practice. 

Contact Us

Laura Bozeman, PhD
Program Director
Laura.Bozeman@umb.edu
617.287.4385

School for Global Inclusion and Social Development
University of Massachusetts Boston
617.287.3070
sgisd@umb.edu