The University of Pittsburgh, School of Education Vision Studies Program offers a hybrid program of study (online and on-campus) to prepare professionals to serve the orientation and mobility (O&M) needs of children and adults who are blind or visually impaired. O&M Specialists provide the necessary instruction for safe, independent travel. The Vision Studies Program provides graduate students with competencies necessary to teach individuals from early childhood through adulthood. Training includes integrating skills such as orientation in space with the appropriate selection and use of mobility devices and/or optical devices for utilization of residual vision.
The O&M certification courses are typically offered one-course per term. Students may also combine a Master's of Education (MEd) degree with their O&M certification program. For additional curriculum details regarding this combination, please see the MEd degree with single certification as an Orientation and Mobility (O&M) Specialist.
Graduates are eligible for national certification as an O&M Specialist by the Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation & Education Professionals (ACVREP). With this certification, the graduate is qualified to provide O&M services needed by children and adults who are blind or visually impaired in public schools, rehabilitation agencies, Veteran’s Administration hospitals. With this certification, the graduate is qualified to provide educational and rehabilitation services. These services include:
- Assessing and evaluating O&M strengths and needs including O&M functional vision assessment
- Recommending appropriate service delivery plans
- Providing training in the use of mobility materials and devices (e.g. prescriptive cane, optical and non-optical devices, dog guide, and electronic devices)
- Consulting with other education and rehabilitation personnel and family regarding the impact of blindness and visual impairment on the O&M process
- Direct instruction in:
- Utilization of mobility devices
- Gross motor development
- Visual efficiency skills
- Concept and sensory development
- Utilization of residual vision
- Spatial orientation
- Instruction in travel in both indoor and outdoor environments
- Utilization of mass transportation systems
- Communication and social skills
- Self-determination skills
- Utilization of tactile, visual, and auditory maps
- Familiarization to familiar and unfamiliar environments
Vision Studies Program Admissions Cycle
Students gaining admission to the O&M certification program will be admitted into a fall term cohort. In this hybrid program, the didactic O&M courses are offered online in the fall and spring terms. The O&M program also requires students to participate in two 6-week on-campus courses spread over two consecutive summers.
In addition, students complete one clinical practice, a 350-clockhour O&M Internship which is required by ACVREP and is scheduled at the completion of the O&M didactic coursework. Students are also required to attend a weekend workshop on Pitt’s Oakland Campus prior to the beginning of the O&M internship. This single certification program takes approximately 2.5 years to complete.
If you are already certified in a vision related field of study (e.g., TVI, Rehab Teacher for the Blind, or Low Vision Therapist), then you only need to complete the 18-credits of O&M Certification courses listed on the O&M Suggested Plan of Study (Option 1). If you do not possess certification in a vision related field of study, you must complete the 18-credits of O&M Certification courses plus 11-credits of additional TVI Certification courses (Option 2).