Teacher of Visually Impaired and Orientation Mobility Specialist – Dual Certification Program

Maximize your abilities to help the visually impaired and advance in your career by earning dual certifications.

This vision studies program prepares students to work both in preK-12 special education classrooms and as a mobility specialist for blind individuals.

This vision program consists of two graduate certificates: the Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments Certificate and the Orientation and Mobility Specialist for Individuals with Visual Impairment or Blindness certificate. Additionally, students can complete an optional Master of Education degree for an additional 6 credits.

The program is offered in a hybrid format, with most courses online and a limited number of workshops in person. Students also complete professional internship experiences that are required for their state teaching certification and orientation and mobility certification.

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Program Facts

Degree Type

Dual Certificates
Optional Master of Education

Credits

46 credits - Dual Certificates
52 credits - Dual Certificates + Master of Education together

Format

Hybrid

Time Commitment

Part-Time
(1-2 classes per semester)

Duration

2½– 4 years
(Variation based on if students have completed prerequisites)

Enrollment Term

Fall

Application Deadline

June 1 - Early Admission
August 1 - Applications considered until this date

Application Requirements

GRE Exam Not Required

Program Overview

AER approved program image of their seal of approvalFor more than 60 years, the University of Pittsburgh School of Education has offered vision studies programs to prepare highly specialized teachers. We are one of the longest-running and most widely respected programs in personnel preparation in the United States. Thousands of highly specialized teachers who served the needs of children who are blind or visually impaired got their start at Pitt.

Two Certificates and Optional Degree

Students will earn two graduate certificates (46 credits):

  • Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments Certificate
  • Orientation and Mobility Specialist for Individuals with Visual Impairment or Blindness

Additionally, students have the option to a master’s degree by taking two additional courses for six credits (52 credits total):

  • Master of Education (MEd) degree

Hybrid Format

The program is primarily online with some required face-to-face sessions. The in-person sessions consist of hands-on workshops.

Certifications

Students who complete this program are eligible for two certifications:

  • 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

Requirements

  1. Courses are primarily online, but students must complete an in-person techniques course for 7 weeks during one summer
  2. Internship of 350 hours (approximately 12-14) weeks, which is needed for the orientation and mobility-related certification
  3. Student teaching for one full semester in a school, which is needed for the teaching-related certification
  4. Completion of all required courses

Curriculum

Dual-Certificate Curriculum (46 credits)

This 46-credit program provides students with two graduate certificates: the Teacher of the Visually Impaired (TVI) certificate and the Orientation and Mobility Specialist for Individuals with Visual Impairment or Blindness certificate.

The certificates lead to the following certifications:

  • Instructional 1 Teaching Certification in Special Education for Students with Visual Impairments from Pennsylvania Department of Education
  • Industry certification as Orientation and Mobility Specialist from Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals (ACVREP).

All students who are pursuing the dual program option will complete the dual certificates. 

  • 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)

Dual-Certificates and Master’s Degree Curriculum (52 credits)

This 52-credit program provides students with two graduate certificates: the Teacher of the Visually Impaired (TVI) certificate and the Orientation and Mobility Specialist for Individuals with Visual Impairment or Blindness certificate. In addition, students earn a Master of Education (MEd) degree.

The dual certificates are 46 credits to complete and the MEd degree is an additional 6 credits.

This program option provides the same level of certification as the dual certificate-only option

Completing the MEd portion of this program is optional. 

Master of Education Curriculum (6 credits)

It is an additional six credits of the following courses to earn the master’s degree.

  • Introduction to Research Methodology (3 credits)
  • Research Seminar or Research Seminar in Special Education (3 credits)

Dual Certificate Curriculum – 46 credits

Students will complete the following courses to earn their certificate and to be eligible for certification. 

  • 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)

Prerequisites

The following prerequisite courses may be taken at the graduate or undergraduate level. Students may also take these courses as co-requisites while enrolled in the program.

  • 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)

Upcoming Info Sessions

General Info Session (Virtual)

March 4, 2024 | Noon-1 PM

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General Info Session (Virtual)

March 18, 2024 | Noon-1 PM

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General Info Session (Virtual)

April 1, 2024 | Noon-1 PM

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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.

Orientation and Mobility Specialist

Our graduates are employed across:

  • Early intervention programs assisting families of young children who have visual disabilities
  • Public or private schools as COMS teaching children to be independent and successful
  • Itinerant COMS employed by school systems or intermediate units to travel between schools to provide instruction to children who are visually impaired
  • Independent contractors providing services to school systems
  • Center-based programs at specialized schools
  • Rehabilitation agencies for adults who are blind
  • COMS with the Veterans Administration or with Older Blind programs

Teacher of the Visually Impaired

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.