Spotlight Saturday: Blindness and Low Vision Studies
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Spotlight Saturday: Blindness and Low Vision Studies

Programs in the Blindness and Low Vision Studies (BLVS) department, originally the Graduate Studies for Vision Impairment program, were first developed at Salus University in 1983, making Salus the first institution in the country to offer four master’s degrees and certificates in Low Vision Rehabilitation (LVR), Orientation and Mobility (O&M), Teacher of the Visually Impaired (TVI), and Vision Rehabilitation Therapy (VRT)

The BLVS department places a strong emphasis on interprofessional work, where students from different disciplines have the opportunity to collaborate consistently.

2 LVR students practicingLow Vision Rehabilitation (LVR) Program

The LVR program prepares professionals in rehabilitation, eye care, education and other related areas, to work more effectively in clinical rehabilitation and educational settings with people who have low vision. Students provide assessment and modification recommendations for home, school, work and the surrounding community. Program participants represent disciplines such as rehabilitation counseling, vision rehabilitation therapy, special education, orientation and mobility, occupational therapy, social work, optometry and ophthalmology. 

The LVR program offers a Master of Science (MS) degree and a certificate program. Methods, research and foundation courses related to the eye and low vision must be taken in a prescribed manner, but the program can be completed on a part-or full-time basis. 

Student practicing using a white cane on the sidewalkOrientation & Mobility (O&M) Program

O&M specialists teach individuals with blindness or vision impairment critical skills to remain oriented in their environments as well as specific mobility skills in order to travel safely, efficiently and as independently as possible within the home, at school, at work and in the community. O&Ms provide safe and meaningful opportunities for exercise, as well as provide instruction on safe street crossings and the use of public transportation when necessary. When working with patients, they will select and provide instruction on the use of appropriate mobility devices such as using a long white cane or a guide dog. The main focus is to improve an individual’s remaining senses, orientation and problem-solving skills and the use of other mobility systems other than using a long cane or a guide dog. O&M specialists work in numerous professional settings including: rehabilitation agencies, Veteran Administration Medical Centers, public schools, and residential schools for students with visual impairments. There are excellent employment opportunities in the field of O&M due to a national shortage of these professionals.

The majority of this program’s curriculum is taught online, with a 10-week summer residency and one additional week in the fall on the University’s Elkins Park, Pennsylvania campus. Founded on evidence-based practice, the O&M coursework is sequentially designed and integrated to ensure that a student’s necessary skills are developed prior to entry into fieldwork off-campus.

The certification program in O&M includes courses taught online, in-person, on weekends and during the summers. It is offered in a part-time format in consideration of the demands of working professionals and in collaboration to better meet the students’ needs.

Student using a Hammond typewriterTeacher of the Visually (TVI) Impaired Program 

The TVI program develops and prepares highly qualified professionals to support children with visual impairment, including multiple disabilities, by creating an interprofessional environment of educators committed to lifelong learning, critical thinking, and dedication to the individuals and communities they serve. VI teachers ensure their students have timely access to the Core Curriculum as well as provide direct instruction in areas of the Expanded Core Curriculum, including braille and assistive technology. While providing the most adequate care to the patient, TVIs also provide consultation to family and team members. 

For those entering the program, the program director and student jointly plan an individualized program of studies to accommodate either full-or part-time status and to ensure appropriate course sequencing and integration. Students may enroll in the program during any semester and will complete a student teaching internship. 

Students who wish to receive a Master of Education (MEd) degree in addition to certification as a Teacher of the Visually Impaired, must complete one additional course: Critical Analysis of Research. In addition, candidates must pass the TVI comprehensive examination. Depending on the semester of enrollment, students who are seeking to complete the master’s degree on a part-time basis may do so in approximately two years and one semester, and on a full-time basis within one year and one semester.

Student holding a white cane with a teacher sitting next to them working on identifying dollar billsVision Rehabilitation Therapy (VRT) Program

Both the master’s degree and certificate programs prepare professionals with expertise in related fields (for example, occupational therapy, social work, gerontology, rehabilitation, special education in visual impairment, O&M, etc.) to provide comprehensive vision rehabilitation therapy services (adaptive activities of daily living/independent living skills) to blind or visually impaired individuals across the lifespan, specifically adults/older adults, by providing the course work and supervised field experiences required for Vision Rehabilitation Therapist certification by the Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals (ACVREP).

The program offers part-time VRT master’s degree and certificate programs online, with on-campus attendance required at the Elkins Park, Pennsylvania campus for an intensive, eight-to 10-week Summer Institute for all methodology and hands-on coursework.

For more information about the BLVS department and opportunities available at Salus contact 800.824.6262 or to explore the opportunities awaiting you. 

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