Teaching Children with Visual Impairments

A teacher of children with visual impairments teaches children with visual impairments the skills they will need to lead successful lives. These skills fall into two major areas: 

  1. Skills that are needed to support the full participation in academic curriculum. 
  2. Skills from the "expanded core," or vision-specific curriculum, that need to be specifically taught to students with visual impairments to accommodate their educational needs.

Responsibilities regarding support for the academic curriculum include working in multiple ways with the regular classroom teacher to assure that the student with visual impairments can access the regular curriculum. Duties include transcribing materials into Braille or large print, modifying materials so they can be read tactually and modifying test materials to accommodate for information not available through the visual channel.

In addition to modifying the typical curriculum, specialists are responsible for teaching children with visual impairments in the expanded core skill areas, including teaching Braille, daily living skills, social skills, adapted computer technology, and recreation and leisure activities. These skills are typically learned incidentally from watching others and are not readily available to children with visual impairments without specific instruction. The teachers will take the lead in teaching these skills to students with visual impairments and in helping parents and others to assist children to learn such skills.

Note that a previous teaching degree is required but specialization in special education, while useful, is not required.

Dual major

This degree may be combined with the orientation and mobility for children master’s degree for a dual major.  The dual major, TCVI/OMC is particularly useful in rural school districts which may have too small a number of students to justify two separate, full-time positions.

More information

For information about the teaching children with visual impairments program, the orientation and mobility program for children or the dual combined master’s programs, Dr. Robert Wall Emerson at robert.wall@wmich.edu or (269) 387-3072.


The teaching children with visual impairments curriculum consists of 41 credit hours.

Our curriculum is the most comprehensive curriculum offered in programs like this 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, our 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 you to attend courses on campus for one six-week summer session.

Below is the list of classes for the teaching children with visual impairments program.

  • BLS 5440: Educating Individuals with Severe Impairments (two credits)
  • BLS 5840: Adapted Computer Technology (three 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 5970: Principles of Low Vision (two credits)
  • BLS 6010: Small N Research (three credits)
  • BLS 6030: Development Through the Lifespan (three credits)
  • BLS 6050: Practice in Low Vision (one credit)
  • BLS 6060: Adaptive Sports and Art Activities for VI Children (one credit)
  • BLS 6080: ECC and Assessment for Children with VI (three credits)
  • BLS 6100: Assisted Research (two credits)
  • BLS 6320: Teaching Children Who Are Visually Impaired (three credits)
  • BLS 6610: Itinerancy and Effective School Collaboration (three credits)
  • BLS 6955: Practicum in TCVI (two credits)
  • BLS 7120: Professional Field Experience (six credits)