Teachers of the Visually Impaired
People say that a picture is worth a thousand words, but if you are blind and can’t see the picture, you need those thousand words. teachers of the visually impaired serve that purpose for blind and visually impaired students. TVIs use descriptions and adaptive teaching methods to help their students understand the world around them and learn about everything from basic shapes to what the night sky looks like. They create tactile graphics so their students can use their fingertips to see pictures. They teach braille so blind students can read everything from math textbooks to Lord of the Rings.
The goal of a TVI is to help visually impaired students become independent. They help their students develop the skills they will need to be successful, but it’s more than just learning braille. TVIs work with students to strengthen organizational skills, communications behaviors, and concept development in order to lay the foundation to be able to learn effectively.
Foundation for Blind Children partnered with Arizona State University’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College to create the first Teacher of the Visually Impaired undergrad program west of the Mississippi River. The Bachelor of Arts in Special Education with a concentration in Visual Impairment will prepare you to work with blind and partially sighted students across educational settings. It leads to dual-certification in Visual Impairment (Birth–Grade 12) and Mild-Moderate Special Education (K–12).
Courses are taught by faculty associates from FBC as well as full-time ASU faculty to provide candidates with theoretical and practical perspectives on teaching and learning for individuals with visual impairments. Students will take face-to-face classes at an ASU campus and the FBC main campus in central Phoenix. Students will have the opportunity to work as paraeducators in FBC classrooms and will complete residencies at both Foundation for Blind Children and in school districts. They will be able to hit the ground running after graduation with plenty of experience already.
Becoming a TVI can be completely free! The Arizona Teacher’s Academy is available to in state students who teach at Arizona schools after graduation. Teachers only need to work one year in Arizona schools for every year of scholarship they received, and they won’t have to pay for their ASU degree.
FBC conducted a survey of districts across Arizona during the 2020-2021 school year that found a 39% TVI vacancy rate. This situation is only going to worsen as more TVIs retire than can be replaced with new graduates. The upside for new graduates is that they are in high demand. A TVI will never be unemployed and will be sought after by schools in Arizona and around the country.
Being a TVI also provides a wider range of career paths than one might expect. They can choose to work with infants, children of all ages, or adults who lose their vision late in life. TVIs can work one-on-one, in a classroom setting, or as itinerant teachers who travel around to different schools.