To promote the University’s Blindness and Low Vision Studies programs
, the department invited local undergraduate students on campus for an open house at the Hafter Student Community Center
on Thursday, January 26. The first of its type for the BLVS program, the goal of the event was for seniors pursuing a special education degree to learn about Salus programs they may be interested in starting as they begin teaching in the fall and to enhance their current skills while student teaching.
For this inaugural event, participants included 23 students and two faculty members from nearby Arcadia University. “[We] hope to engage the students in understanding how learning about blindness and low vision can be useful in the field of special education and how they can come to Salus to receive either a certificate in one of our programs or start a master's program in Education for Teachers of Children with Visual and Multiple Disabilities,” said Barbara Schwartz-Bechet, MS, EdD, associate dean of the University’s College of Education and Rehabilitation.
The event, set up to be interactive for participating students, “began with a video overview of the fields that work with children with blindness and low vision in schools,” said Dr. Schwartz-Bechet. Students then rotated through the following stations with the corresponding activities presented by Salus faculty, which mimic potential scenarios with their future students:
- Vision rehabilitation: activities of daily living, such as pouring water with a blindfold
- Low vision therapy: reading with glasses that showed different levels of sight, such as blurry or no peripheral vision
- Teachers of the visually impaired: using braille
- Orientation and mobility: walking with canes while blindfolded for simulation
Student feedback was positive, and students commented that they learned a lot of new information, enjoyed the interactivity and hands-on aspects of the event, and that faculty and staff were knowledgeable and friendly. Participant comments included, “I loved that I got to see some of the technology that students who are visually impaired use” and “Everything was so interesting and I loved being able to actively participate in every activity they offered.”
According to Dr. Schwartz-Bechet, Arcadia representatives hope to arrange more open house events and to work collaboratively in the future. In addition, other local universities are interested in participating in similar events.