The Department of Blindness and Low Vision Studies at Western Michigan University has won two Rehabilitation Services Administration grants totaling nearly $1.5 million to strengthen recruiting efforts and increase the number of highly qualified vision rehabilitation therapists and orientation and mobility specialists over the next five years.
Vision Rehabilitation Therapy
Vision rehabilitation therapists offer adults who are blind or visually impaired information and resources they need to lead successful, productive and independent lives. They provide specialized methods or adaptive techniques for communication and coping with the demands of daily living.
The broad sphere of communication includes Braille, computers, handwriting, listening and recording technology, low-vision technology, mathematical calculation and keyboarding. Instruction in daily living skills includes food preparation, personal management, home management, home mechanics, leisure and recreation activities, and orientation and movement in familiar indoor environments.
Services are primarily provided in two major settings: rehabilitation centers designed to serve groups of people and in people's homes. Therapists work with individual students or small groups.
Vision rehabilitation therapists also work with other rehabilitation team members to help students identify the services they need. Because they establish close working relationships, therapists often help students adjust and adapt successfully to blindness.
Online or face-to-face
In addition to WMU’s main campus in Kalamazoo, Michigan, the vision rehabilitation therapy program is also available online. While the requirements are the same, online courses from WMU offer a great deal of flexibility to students beyond Kalamazoo. Check course listings for more information.
- BLS 5770: Services for Persons with Disabilities (one credit)
- BLS 5840: Computer Technology in Rehabilitation (three credits)
- BLS 5880: Psycho-Social Aspects of Disability (two credits)
- BLS 5890: Medical and Functional 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 5930: Methods of Teaching Adaptive Communication (two credits)
- BLS 5970: Principles of Low Vision (two credits)
- BLS 6010: Small 'N' Research: Design and Analysis (three credits)
- BLS 6020: Gerontology – O&M and VRT (two credits)
- BLS 6050: Practice in Low Vision (one credit)
- BLS 6100 or 7100: Assisted or Independent Research (two credits)
- FCS 6360: Teaching for Independent Living (four credits)
- BLS 6640: Principles of Rehabilitation Teaching (three credits)
- BLS 6910: Principles of Rehabilitation Teaching (two credits)
- BLS 7120: Professional Field Experience (six credits)
In this program, you will enroll in core courses and specialized courses in vision rehabilitation therapy. You will receive 40 credit hours of instruction, including a professional field experience. You can complete the program in three to four semesters, after which you will have earned your master's degree.
Courses for the vision rehabilitation therapy program are listed to the left. You can read descriptions in the course catalog.