Certification as Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments (TVI)

The program in Visual Impairment and Blindness at the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) began preparing Teachers of Students with Visual Impairment (TVI), Orientation and Mobility (O&M) specialists, and doctoral leadership personnel in 1963, making it one of the longest-running programs in personnel preparation in the United States. Throughout that time, our program has prepared thousands of highly specialized teachers to serve the education needs of children who are blind or visually impaired nationwide.

Presently, there is a substantial demand for certified teachers of students with visual impairments to serve the needs of this population locally, regionally, and nationally. Positions far exceed the number of qualified personnel available. Our graduates have become expert instructors and leaders in the field of blindness and visual impairment and have made a significant impact upon improving the lives of individuals around Pennsylvania—and the world. 

Quick Facts

  • Program Duration: 2-3 years (depending on whether the prospective student has already completed the prerequisites)  
  • Time Commitment: Part time, generally one or two classes per semester. 
  • Term of Enrollment: Fall 
  • Course Requirements: 29 credits 
  • Application Deadline: Early admission ends June 1; applications considered until August 1 of each year. 
  • Admissions Requirements: GRE Exam Not Required

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Program Details

The program is primarily online with some required face-to-face sessions 

Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments (TVI) Certificate (29 credits):  

  • Education of Children with Visual Impairments, Part 1 (3 credits) 
  • Introduction to the Eye and Low Vision (3 credits) 
  • Braille (3 credits) 
  • Technology for Children  with Visual Impairments (3 credits) 
  • Communication Skills for Individuals with Visual Impairments (3 credits)
  • Orientation and Mobility for the TVI (3 credits) 
  • Education for Children with Visual Impairments 2 (3 credits) 
  • Nemeth Code/Abacus (3 credits) 
  • Level 2 Student Teaching Practicum in Visual Impairments (5 credits) 


Certificate Requirements

  • Hybrid program; mostly online but some courses require a face-to-face workshops on campus 
  • Requires student teaching for one full semester  
  • Teaching Certificate in Special Education for Students with Visual Impairments through the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) 
  • University of Pittsburgh certificate of completion of TVI coursework 


Students apply for their Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) Instructional I teaching certificate upon successful completion of the following:

  • TVI Coursework
  • Student Teaching Practicum
  • Praxis II exams

For more information, visit the Pennsylvania Department of Education educator certification website


The following four prerequisite courses may be taken at the graduate or undergraduate level; students may also take these courses as co-requisites with TVI courses. 

  • Foundations of Special Education (3 credits) 
  • Students with Disabilities in the Classroom (Elementary or Secondary) (3 credits) 
  • Literacy Assessment and Instruction for Children with Disabilities in Inclusive Settings (3 credits) 
  • Teaching English Language Learners (3 credits) 

Career Pathways

The program addresses a critical shortage area in education. Research indicates a current need for approximately 28,000 professionals who can work with children who are blind or visually impaired. Being a TVI is a rewarding and creative career that is uniquely satisfying.

Professionals in the field may work: 

  • in early intervention programs assisting families of young children who have visual disabilities;  
  • in public or private schools as TVIs teaching children to be independent and successful; 
  • as itinerant TVIs employed by school systems or intermediate units to travel between schools to provide instruction to children who are visually impaired; 
  • as independent contractors providing services to school systems; 
  • in center-based programs at specialized schools.