Full-time, On-campus Program

Training for a Rewarding Career

Generous Student Financial Assistance

Teaching Children who are Blind or Visually Impaired and/or Providing Orientation and Mobility Services for Those Children

Northern Illinois University (DeKalb, Illinois) offers a nationally regarded program at the graduate level for individuals who wish to join a rewarding career in teaching children who are blind or visually impaired. Teachers of students who are visually disabled generally travel from school to school working with the students on a one-to-one basis. The vast majority of students who are visually disabled attend their local schools with their sighted peers in the same classrooms as their sighted friends. The special education teachers who provide instruction for children who are blind or visually impaired work with their regular classroom teachers to insure that the youngsters receive the best and most appropriate education designed for them. There is an overwhelming need for these teachers. As a consequence, there are many job opportunities in all regions of the United States. Individuals who choose this career path can anticipate having no difficulty obtaining life-long employment with great job security! In addition to numerous job opportunities, good pay, and excellent job security, individuals who choose this career path experience a sense of fulfillment not commonly found in other careers. These teachers play a significant role in the lives of youngsters who are blind and their families.

Generous student financial assistance is available. We will pay all instate or out-of-state tuition, all fees, health insurance, and a stipend of $5,200 per calendar year for qualified individuals who wish to come to Northern Illinois University to enroll in the graduate program focusing on special education for children who are blind or visually impaired. For more information, go to the following web site to read about the program.
Also, go to the following Youtube links

Interested individuals can contact the project director, Gaylen Kapperman, at the following e-mail:
Or by calling 815-753-8453

Admissions requirements are as follows:
Online application with a fee of $40
GRE scores of 30%tile verbal and 30%tile quantitative ($160 fee)
Official transcripts of all previous academic work
GPA of 2.8
ACT score of 22 or successful completion of the Test of Academic Proficiency (TAP)
Three letters of recommendation
Personal statement
The link to the online application process for the Graduate School can be found on the page,www.vision.niu.edu.

This is not an online program. All courses except for student teaching and the orientation and mobility internship are taken on campus in DeKalb, Illinois, the home of Northern Illinois University.

Depending on the credentials held by a program applicant, a master’s degree and eligibility for licensure for teaching children who are blind or visually impaired, or a master’s degree and eligibility for national certification as an orientation and mobility specialist, may be completed in 16 months. A master’s degree and completion of both programs (dual certification), resulting in eligibility for licensure as a teacher of students who are blind or visually impaired and eligibility for national certification as an orientation and mobility specialist, may be completed in 22 months; we encourage applicants to consider dual certification because this will result in increased employment opportunities post-graduation. Each of the 3 alternatives may require an additional  summer session if certain foundation courses have to be completed. The credentials of potential applicants can be reviewed to determine the length of the program of study.

Students progress through the program in cohorts. Each cohort begins in the fall of each academic year. Our deadline for receipt of applications is June 15 of each year. The generous financial assistance is awarded on a first come, first served basis to qualified applicants.

The Summers-only Orientation and Mobility Component

If you are currently certified as a Teacher of Students with Visual Disabilities (TVI) or as a Vision Rehabilitation Therapist (CVRT), you may be eligible to study in a summers-only program which will allow you to obtain a master’s degree and certification in Orientation & Mobility without an interruption in employment!

This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity includes full tuition, fees, and an $800 per summer stipend. On-campus courses will take place during the summers of 2015, 2016, and 2017. A full time, 12-week internship will be completed during the summer of 2018, at any approved site in the contiguous 48 states. This package is worth $16,000 for Illinois residents; $25,000 for out-of-state students!

Act now if you are interested! This will not be a continual offering; this is a one-time cohort opportunity based on federal funding.

Application deadline: MARCH 15, 2015
For additional information on the NIU Visual Disabilities Program, please visit our website: www.vision.niu.edu

For the online Graduate School application, please visit the NIU Graduate School Admissions website: http://www.niu.edu/grad/apply/

This program is a one-time only opportunity open to certified TVIs and CVRTs. It is designed to enable professionals in the visual disabilities field to earn credentials in the area of Orientation and Mobility without an interruption in employment as teachers.

Funding is available for 6 of the cohort participants to be awarded graduate assistantships which will pay in-state or out-of-state tuition, fees, and a stipend of $800 for each of the 4 summers of this program. The graduate assistantships will be awarded on a competitive basis (combination of undergrad GPA, GRE scores, recommendations, etc.). There will be more than 6 spots available in the cohort, but only money enough to provide support for 6 students.

Many school systems, however, have a tuition support program available for their employees, so this should help tremendously with financing for anyone who wants to participate but isn’t funded by the grant. Also, most salary schedules have incremental pay increases for coursework, so this should help, also.

In order to be awarded a graduate assistantship, students must be fully admitted to The Graduate School at NIU. Admission requirements include:

– A bachelor’s degree from an accredited 4-year institution with a minimum 2.8 grade point average on a 4.0 scale
– A passing score on the Graduate Record Exam General Test (verbal and quantitative); and
– 3 letters of recommendation
– In addition, admission to this particular cohort requires evidence of current certification in the visual disabilities area, either as a TVI or as a CVRT.

The application process is started with submission of the actual application and a $40 application fee. This can be accomplished online at the following website: http://www.grad.niu.edu/online/apply.htm . Other supporting documents (transcripts, official GRE scores, letters of recommendation, and copies of certificates) may be submitted (to the graduate school admissions office, NOT to the vision program!) after the actual application.

Be sure to notify Gaylen Kapperman (gkapperman@niu.edu ) of your intent to apply as soon as the decision is made to ensure that your name is included in the pool of candidates!

Cohort participants will complete the program in August of 2018, and will be eligible for ACVREP certification as a Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist (COMS) and will be awarded the Master of Science in Education (M.S.Ed.) degree.


Embed from Getty Images

Great report about using technology to support the learning of at-risk students. The below points are good recommendations and a great way to start conversation with the people controlling the checkbooks.

The report includes several recommendations that could expand the use and positive impact of technology among at-risk high school youth:

  • Technology access policies should aim for one-to-one computer access.
  • Technology access policies should ensure that speedy internet connections are available.
  • States, districts, and schools should favor technology designed to promote high levels of interactivity and engagement and make data available in multiple forms.
  • Curriculum and instruction plans should enable students to use technology to create content as well as learn material.
  • Policymakers and educators should plan for “blended” learning environments, characterized by significant levels of teacher support and opportunities for interactions among students, as companions to technology use.”

Read the article at: http://all4ed.org/press/new-report-technology-can-close-achievement-gaps-and-improve-learning-outcomes-for-at-risk-students/

The OSEP Letter which was written June 19th of 2013 is now available for download in Word and PDF. The webpage is: http://www2.ed.gov/policy/speced/guid/idea/letters/2013-2/index.html.

This letter reiterated the strength of teaching braille and the reminder that braille is the first choice for literacy instruction for students determined to be eligible as visually impaired. Braille is so important, evaluations must be completed to rule out the instruction of braille, not the other way around.

The reasoning behind writing it might not be known as we do not know the addressee. What we do know is that it was important enough for OSEP to answer. Our students deserve instruction in braille. Our students with low vision deserve to be considered for braille first, print second. Our students require competent trained teachers of the visually impaired, ones who are knowledgeable in braille.

Braille Fail – Wish They Knew About Spacing

Braille Shoulder Tattoo

I wish people understood braille has spacing just as print has spacing, and punctuation (capital signs). All of these words run together. There is also a spelling error; thankfully it could be easily fixed if she ever sees this post.





I am sure she meant

“I believe in fairy tales and serendipitous encounters.”

Braille Shoulder Tattoo

Embed from Getty Images

APH staff, in a project with Northern Illinois University, is developing a web based Nemeth tutorial that works equally well for both sighted and blind users with a refreshable braille display. The tutorial requires an internet connection and a modern browser and, for blind users, a screen reader and refreshable braille display. Supported screen readers include JAWS®, Window-Eyes®, and NVDA® on Windows®, VoiceOver® (on both Mac® and iOS®) and TalkBack® on Android®. Supported browsers include Internet Explorer®, FireFox®, and Chrome® on Windows, Safari® on Mac and iOS, and Firefox and Chrome on Android.

Any braille display that the selected screen reader supports works with the tutorial.

To participate in the testing, send a blank email to nemeth-subscribe@tech.aph.org. This subscribes you to an email list where other test participants, developers, and customer service personnel exchange experiences, impressions, and suggestions.

To check out the tutorial, click here: http://tech.aph.org/nemeth/