Dual Certification as Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments (TVI) and Orientation and Mobility Specialist (COMS)

The program in Visual Impairment and Blindness at the University of Pittsburgh 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, we have prepared thousands of highly specialized teachers to serve the education needs of children and adults 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: 2½– 4 years, (depending on whether the prospective student already completed the prerequisites) 
  • Time Commitment: Part time, generally one or two classes per semester. 
  • Term of Enrollment: Fall 
  • Course Requirements: 46 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. 

Dual TVI and O&M certification (46 credits): 

  • Education of Children with Visual Impairments, Part 1 (3 credits) 
  • Introduction to the Eye and Low Vision (3 credits) 
  • Braille (3 credits) 
  • Communication Skills for Individuals with Visual Impairments (3 credits)
  • Technology for Children  with Visual Impairments (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) 
  • Foundations of O&M (3 credits) 
  • Techniques of O&M 1 (3 credits) 
  • Techniques of O&M 2 (3 credits) 
  • Program Development in O&M (3 credits) 
  • O&M for Diverse Populations (3 credits) 
  • Level 3 Internship Practicum in O&M (5 credits) 



Degree Requirements

  • Courses primarily online but but some courses require a face-to-face workshop on campus  
  • O&M hands-on techniques courses require a face-to-face obligation for 7 weeks during one summer 
  • O&M program requires an internship of 350 hrs (12-14 weeks) leading to certification through the Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals (ACVREP) 
  • University of Pittsburgh certificate of completion of the TVI and O&M programs 
  • Teaching Certificate in Special Education for Students with Visual Impairments through the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) 


Students who complete this program are eligible for certifications as:

  • Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) certification as a Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments (TVI)
  • National professional certification in Orientation and Mobility (O&M) from the Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals


The following 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. Students who complete the Dual Certification program are fully trained to meet the needs of children and adults who are blind or visually impaired, and are in very high demand nationally. 

Professionals in the field may work: 

  • in early intervention programs assisting families of young children who have visual disabilities;  
  • in public or private schools teaching children to be independent and successful; 
  • as itinerant teachers 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; 
  • at rehabilitation agencies for adults who are blind; 
  • as a COMS with the Veterans Administration or with Older Blind programs.