The Curriculum and Instruction: Visual Disabilities program prepares you to teach people who are visually impaired (blind or low vision).
Teaching students with visual impairments is unlike any other type of teaching. The Visual Disabilities Program at Florida State University teaches specialized strategies to help students who are visually impaired (those who are blind or who have low vision). Teachers of the visually impaired (TVIs) enable and empower students. In their classrooms, TVIs equip their students with all the skills every adult needs, regardless of ability.
TVIs do more than teach educational and practical skills. They also teach students the skills necessary for them to navigate social situations. Additionally, TVIs assist students with lifestyle skills for future professional development and independent living.
Both public and private institutions have tremendous demand for teachers of the visually impaired. Our highly sought-after graduates enjoy a 100% employment rate throughout Florida and the nation!
FSU now offers three options for those interested in becoming teachers of the visually impaired. The options include:
- Traditional in-person master’s and specialist degrees to prepare pre-service teachers to work with children who have visual impairments
- In-person master’s degree to prepare orientation and mobility specialists to teach the skills used by individuals who are visually impaired to physically navigate through their environments
- Online master’s degree to prepare teachers certified in general or special education areas who seek to expand their professional skills to include working with students who are visually impaired. The online program offers current teachers an ideal choice for continuing education while providing enough flexibility to continue working.
Students who complete the O&M specialization are eligible to apply for national certification from the Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals (ACVREP) in orientation and mobility.
In order to meet minimum University admission requirements, applicants must have:
- A bachelor’s degree with at least a 3.0 GPA – An earned bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution, or a comparable degree from an international institution, with a minimum 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) grade point average (GPA) in all coursework attempted while registered as an upper-division undergraduate student working towards a bachelor’s degree.
- GRE test scores. Official test results are required from the General Test of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). These scores are considered official only when they are sent directly to the Office of Admissions from the testing agency. Examinee copies are not considered official. Graduate Record Exam (GRE): http://www.ets.org/ – FSU Institution Code: 5219.
M.S. and Ed.S. Applicant Target Scores:
Verbal – 146+
Quantitative – 140+
Ph.D. Applicant Target Scores:
Verbal – 151+
Quantitative – 145+
Writing – 3.5+
The Educational Testing Service (ETS) do not retain scores longer than five years. If your test scores are older than five years, you may have to retake the test to have official scores sent directly to FSU from the testing agency. If you have the report that was mailed to your home address for older scores, then FSU will accept that report.
NOTE: The GRE admission requirements for master's and specialist programs have been waived through Fall 2022.
- Language proficiency test (international students only)– FSU accepts scores from TOEFL (minimum 80), IELTS (minimum 6.5) and MELAB (minimum 77).
- Transcripts – Applicants must submit an official transcript (in a sealed envelope) from each college and/or university attended to the Office of Graduate Admissions. The address for submitting transcripts is:
Florida State University
Office of Graduate Admissions
314 Westcott Building
P.O. Box 3061410
Tallahassee, FL 32306-1410
Applicants must upload the following REQUIRED supporting documents to the Admissions Application Portal:
- Statement of purpose – should describe your purpose for pursuing a degree, qualifications and long-term career goals.
- At least one (1) page for M.S. and Ed.S. applicants
- At least two (2) pages for Ph.D. applicants
- Letters of recommendation
- Two (2) for M.S. and Ed.S. applicants
- Three (3) Ph.D. applicants
- One page resume/curriculum vitae
- Writing Sample – it is acceptable to submit a paper used in another class, or one that was published.
Every year in Florida, jobs go unfilled and students go unserved because so few people know about this rewarding and satisfying field of education.
Results from a recent study indicate that there is a need for 5,000 new Teachers of Children with Visual Impairments (TVIs) and a need for 10,000 new Orientation and Mobility (O&M) Specialists to work with children and adults with visual impairments across the U.S.
These teachers and specialists help children and adults who are blind or who have low vision to achieve their educational goals and prepare for the future. They work with individuals with visual impairments and their parents, educators, rehabilitation centers, and community agencies.
Florida Low Vision Initiative
The Low Vision Initiative, funded by the Florida Department of Education, will begin its 24th year in fall 2020. This program funds comprehensive low vision services for students with visual impairments that involves (a) the provision of low vision services to students who meet the initiative’s eligibility criteria, (b) technical assistance to the teachers and parents of these students, and (c) the collection of data regarding the effect of low vision device use on reading outcomes.
Students with visual impairments who are learning to read and who use large print materials, including those students who also have other disabilities, are the focus of the Florida Low Vision Initiative, which provides comprehensive low vision services to students who meet the initiative’s eligibility criteria. After receiving a low vision evaluation by a qualified eye care specialist, students are provided with prescribed eyeglasses, sunglasses, contact lenses, and/or portable handheld optical devices. Teachers and parents of these students receive follow-up services to assist the students in the use of any low vision aids that are purchased for student use.
As of April 24, 2020, 1,493 students with visual impairments have participated in the Florida Low Vision Initiative and seven others are awaiting an initial evaluation. A total of 67 referral requests have been processed for the 2019–2020 project year. It is anticipated that a minimum of six regional low vision clinics will be held at locations throughout the state where these new students will receive clinical low vision services. Students will be selected to receive low vision services based on eligibility and use of large print materials, approval of a parent, and agreement of the teacher to participate in a rigorously designed outcomes measurement project. Follow-up services will be provided through coordination with each student’s low vision medical provider using best practices of low vision care as described in the research literature. Data will be collected on reading levels and fluency of new students, as well as on a subset of continuing students involved in this initiative.
Finally, project personnel will work with eligible students in middle and high school and their teachers to use the supports provided by the Division of Blind Services or the Florida Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, including those financial supports that facilitate comprehensive low vision care and the purchase of assistive technology that facilitates access to near and distant environments.