BLVS Welcomes Students to Campus For Summer Orientation
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BLVS Welcomes Students to Campus For Summer Orientation

Salus University’s Blindness and Low Vision Studies (BLVS) program is off to a hot start this summer as it welcomed students to the Elkins Park, Pennsylvania campus for orientation. 

“Our orientation is held every year for students who have never been to campus. As a result of our program's hybrid learning system, some of the students have taken courses online and have never been to Salus,” said Fabiana Perla, EdD, MS ‘93, COMS ‘94, chair of the BLVS Department. “One goal of orientation is for students to develop a sense of belonging to the institution, because when you are online and don’t have a physical presence on campus, it can be challenging.”  BLVS students in a classroom during orientation

The orientation program began Monday, June 6 with breakfast and registration. Activities kicked off at 9 a.m. with a welcome from James Konopack, PhD, dean of the University’s College of Health Sciences, Education and Rehabilitation (CHER)

“BLVS has a very strong emphasis on interprofessional work, and students from different disciplines are able to collaborate with each other,” said Dr. Perla. “We are already very comfortable collaborating online, and being on campus allowed us a chance to interact and collaborate in person.”

As exciting as it was to have these students on campus for the first time, the BLVS program prides itself on inclusivity, and in order to allow full accessibility to all students, the orientation day was also made available virtually for those who could not attend in person. 

“I was thankful that I was able to attend the orientation day virtually, as I had a prior commitment that day with my job,” said Wanda Easter ‘23 in the Teacher of the Visually Impaired program. “I’m glad I was still able to meet the faculty and staff within the BLVS Department and engage in the day's activities.” BLVS students listening to panelists during discussion

“We have students from all over the country as well as internationally,” said Dr. Perla. “There will be Salus graduates abroad representing our field and institution in countries where these programs do not exist.”

Following some “icebreakers,” the rest of the morning was packed with informational sessions from the Learning Resource Center (LRC), the Technology Resource Center (TRC), the Career Center, and the Center for Personal and Professional Development (CPPD)

After lunch, the students were given a tour of the University and were then split into program specific sessions. The BLVS program offers four Master’s degrees and certificates in the following areas: Low Vision Rehabilitation (LVR), Orientation & Mobility (O&M), Teacher of the Visually Impaired (TVI) and Vision Rehabilitation Therapy (VRT).

The day concluded with a panel discussion given by consumers with visual impairments and family members, who engaged the students in a discussion about the impact professional services had on their lives, what to expect from a professional in the field and their personal experiences with professional services. BLVS panel discussion during Orientation

“The idea of the panel was for the students to start their programs with the end in mind,” said Dr. Perla. “It was a very inspiring, and informative opportunity for students to interact with those who benefit from our services. The speakers represent the reason why we chose our professional field.” 

BLVS faculty members were excited to see some of their students on campus for the first time and they are looking forward to the rest of the summer. For more information on the BLVS program, visit the website page here.

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