The Vision Studies Program at the University of Pittsburgh is beginning its 50th year of preparing teachers of students with visual impairment, orientation and mobility (O&M) specialists, and doctoral leadership personnel, making it one of the longest running vision programs in the U.S. The program, which began in the fall of 1963, has prepared thousands of highly specialized teachers and O&M specialists to serve the education and rehabilitation needs of children and adults who are blind or visually impaired nationwide. Doctoral graduates of Pitt's Vision Studies program have become leaders in the field of blindness and visual impairment, forging research agenda that have made a significant impact upon improving the lives of individuals who are blind or visually impaired around the world.
This program enables students to acquire single and/or dual certification as a Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments (TVI) and/or as an O&M Specialist with an option for completing a Master of Education (MEd) degree in a unique hybrid program model (online and on-campus). There is a substantial demand for certified professionals to serve the needs of this population locally, regionally, and nationally. Position vacancies far exceed the number of qualified personnel available.
Courses offered through this hybrid program incorporate both online and campus-based instruction. All of the courses offered in the TVI certification program are online, but for each course offered there is a weekend, on-campus (face-to-face) workshop requirement. The TVI student teaching practicum is a 14-week supervised clinical experience and is arranged on a case-by-case basis. Students pursuing O&M certification will combine both online and campus-based coursework throughout the academic year. The on-campus requirement for the Techniques of O&M 1 and 2 courses occurs during one 6-week summer session. For professional O&M certification through the Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals (ACVREP), O&M Internship will be arranged on an individual basis. In addition, students in the O&M certification program are required to participate in a weekend workshop on Pitt’s Oakland Campus prior to beginning the O&M internship.
Upon completion of the certification program, students are eligible to apply for Pennsylvania Department of Education Level I instructional certification as a TVI (required by law to serve the needs of school-aged children), and/or national certification as an O&M Specialist by the ACVREP.
Applicants may choose to pursue the MEd degree through a variety of combinations; either by pairing the degree with any certification option or with a Vision Studies Area of Concentration (non-certification). The MEd program requires the completion of a minimum of 36-credits, combining 12-credits of graduate-level education coursework with certification courses. The required MEd courses are offered on-line. Students combining the degree with certification will complete additional credit hours to fulfill program requirements.