Teaching Individuals with Visual Impairments—Unlike Any Other Type of Teaching!
The Curriculum and Instruction: Visual Disabilities program at Florida State prepares you to teach children and/or adults who are visually impaired (blind or low vision). 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’s Visual Disabilities program teaches the specialized strategies and skills necessary to help individuals who are blind or who have low vision learn about and participate fully in school, employment, and the community.
Teachers of Students with Visual Impairments (TVIs) and Orientation and Mobility Specialists (OMS) enable and empower students and clients. In their classrooms and the community, these important professionals equip their students with all the skills every adult needs, regardless of ability. These dynamic teachers do more than teach educational and practical skills; they also teach children and adults with visual impairments the skills necessary to navigate social situations, independent living, careers, and their environments.
Florida State University’s Visual Disabilities program offers the following options for those seeking to teach children and/or adults who are blind or who have low vision:
Become a Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments (B.S./M.S. Pathway)
This is a traditional in-person program offered at FSU’s main campus and is designed to prepare new, pre-service teachers to work with children who are visually impaired. College students begin this combined pathway program at the beginning of their junior year and earn both the Bachelor of Science and the Master of Science degree within three years by completing the required coursework.
Financial support through grants and scholarships are available for eligible students. For information about this program, visit https://education.fsu.edu/visual-disabilities.
Master's Degree Leading to Certification in Orientation and Mobility
Orientation and Mobility Specialists are the professionals who teach the skills used by individuals who are visually impaired to physically navigate through their environments and includes skills such as helping a toddler who is blind to explore their room to find their favorite toy, teaching a child to safely play with friends on the playground, and teaching the use of the white cane while crossing streets or using public transportation to independently travel to work.
Courses for this specialization within the Visual Disabilities program are offered in a combination of online and face-to-face content. Students who complete the O&M specialization are eligible to apply for professional certification from the Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals (ACVREP) to become certified orientation and mobility specialists (COMS) and may be eligible for the O&M endorsement from the Florida Department of Education.
Financial support through grants and scholarships are available for eligible students.
Master's Degree Designed for General and Special Educators who are or want to become Teachers of Students with Visual Impairments
This program is designed for teachers and paraprofessionals with experience in general or special education who seek to refine or expand their professional skills to include working with children who are visually impaired. This online program offers current teachers an ideal choice for continuing education while providing enough flexibility to continue working.
Specialist Degree Program for Visual Disabilities-Related Professionals
Experienced professionals who have completed a Master of Science degree and seek an advanced degree to refine their skills in this area can consider completing this program. If interested in pursuing an Education Specialist degree in the area of Visual Disabilities, please contact Dr. Eileen Bischof to discuss options and a program of study based on your prior experience and completed coursework.
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. 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.
- M.S. and Ed.S. applicant target scores: Verbal – 146+, Quantitative – 140+,
- Ph.D. applicant target scores: Verbal – 151+, Quantitative – 145+, Writing – 3.5+
- *NOTE: The GRE admission requirements for master's and specialist programs have been waived through Fall 2026.
- Language proficiency test (international students only) – FSU accepts scores from TOEFL (minimum 80), IELTS (minimum 6.5), MELAB (minimum 77), Cambridge C1 Advanced Level (minimum 180), Michigan Language Assessment (minimum 55), and Duolingo (minimum 120)
- Transcripts – Applicants must submit an official transcript from each college and/or university attended. Transcripts should be sent to the Office of Graduate Admissions electronically at email@example.com or via mail in a sealed envelope:
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.
Fall: July 1st
Spring: November 1st
Summer: March 1st
The FSU College of Education offers over $660,000 in scholarship and fellowship opportunities – more than any other public College of Education in the state of Florida. On top of that, the state of Florida is nationally ranked in the top 2 for lowest tuition. The tuition at Florida State University is an even better bargain compared to other public research universities. You can find information about tuition at FSU here.
Financial assistance in the form of tuition support and stipends is available for some eligible students. Please contact Eileen Bischof for information.
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.
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.