Teacher of Children with Visual Impairments and Orientation and Mobility for Children Curriculum

Many curriculum choices are available to the prospective student in the Department of Blindness and Low Vision Studies at Western Michigan University interested in working with children. The actual curriculum will depend on which of the three areas of preparation the student is interested in (teacher of children with visual impairments, orientation and mobility specialist for children, or both), whether the student is interested in taking classes on campus or via the distance education program, and the background training of the prospective student. Students in the teacher of children with visual impairments or orientation and mobility for children programs do not have to have prior certification in regular or special education but many states will not certify or employ a professional as a teacher of children with visual impairments unless they have a degree in education. Students who do not have a teaching degree are encouraged to find out the requirements for their own state before applying to the program. This requirement is less important for the orientation and mobility for children program because orientation and mobility specialists are certified through a national certifying body.

The teacher of children with visual impairments curriculum consists of 44 credit hours. The WMU curriculum is believed to be the most comprehensive curriculum offered in teacher of children with visual impairments anywhere in the United States. Instead of one or two-hour lectures on topics such as Nemeth Code (Braille math), daily living skills, computer technology, and art and sport instruction, the WMU curriculum includes entire courses in these important areas. An on-campus sequence takes approximately four semesters to complete. The standard distance education sequence requires six semesters and requires that students attend courses on campus for one six-week summer session.

The orientation and mobility for children curriculum consists of 37 credit hours. The on-campus sequence takes approximately four semesters to complete and the standard distance education sequence requires six semesters and requires that students attend courses on campus for one six-week summer session.

The dual curriculum consists of 65 credits. The distance education sequence requires students to attend two summer sessions on campus and takes eight semesters to complete. The on-campus sequence consists of approximately five semesters. Each program includes a 60 hour practicum and a 600 hour internship where students are placed with master teachers and practice the skills they have learned in their coursework. These internships are developed according to the geographical and work needs of the individual students. We have placed interns in most states within the United States and will work with each student to find a suitable placement that meets the needs of the program as well as the student. Students with sufficient previous experience teaching children with visual impairments may petition for reduced hours in their internship.

Below is the list of classes for the teacher of children with visual impairments program. This list reflects some minor changes in course names and credit hours that are currently under the process of University curriculum review and should be in place for fall 2014.

  • BLS 5440: Educating Individuals with Severe Impairments (three credits)
  • BLS 5840: Adapted Computer Technology (three credits)
  • BLS 5880: Psycho-Social Aspects of Disability (two credits)
  • BLS 5900: Physiology and Function of the Eye (two credits)
  • BLS 5910: Braille and Other Tactual Communication Systems (three credits)
  • BLS 5912: Teaching Math and Specialty Codes (two credits)
  • BLS 5930: Teaching Adaptive Communications (two credits)
  • BLS 5945: Itinerancy and Effective School Collaboration (two credits)
  • BLS 5970: Principles of Low Vision (two credits)
  • BLS 6010: Small N Research (three credits)
  • BLS 6050: Practice in Low Vision (one credit)
  • BLS 6060: Adaptive Sports Activities for VI Children (one credit)
  • BLS 6070: Adaptive Art Activities for VI Children (one credit)
  • BLS 6100: Assisted Research (two credits)
  • BLS 6320: Teaching Children Who Are Visually Impaired (three credits)
  • BLS 6955: Practicum in TCVI (two credits)
  • BLS 7120: Professional Field Experience (six credits)
  • FCS 6360: Teaching for Independent Living (four credits)

Below is the list of classes for the orientation and mobility for children program:

  • BLS 5880: Psycho-Social Aspects of Disability (two credits)
  • BLS 5900: Physiology and Function of the Eye (two credits)
  • BLS 5915: Braille for Orientation and Mobility Specialists (one credit)
  • BLS 5920: Orientation and Mobility with Children (three credits)
  • BLS 5945: Itinerant and Effective School Collaboration (two credits)
  • BLS 5950: Methods of Orientation and Mobility/Intro Mobility-Blind (four credits)
  • BLS 5960: Electronic Devices (one credit)
  • BLS 5970: Principles of Low Vision (two credits)
  • BLS 6010: Small N Research (three credits)
  • BLS 6040: Issues in Independent Travel (two credits)
  • BLS 6050: Practice in Low Vision (one credit)
  • BLS 6060: Adaptive Sports Activities for VI Children (one credit)
  • BLS 6100: Assisted Research (two credits)
  • BLS 6940: Principles of Orientation and Mobility (three credits)
  • BLS 6950: Practicum in Orientation and Mobility (two credits)
  • BLS 7120: Internship in Orientation and Mobility (six credits)