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Stephen F. Austin State University

Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments


It is the mission of the Visual Impairment Preparation Concentration to train Teachers of Students with Visual Impairments (TSVIs) and Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialists (COMS) who are practically and pragmatically prepared to meet the needs of persons with visual impairments across the state of Texas and in the nation as a whole.

We believe that completers from our concentration should be equipped to effectively deliver instructional services that provide opportunities for students and clients with visual impairments to be more independent, lead more meaningful lives and participate to a greater extent in society at large. In order to meet these goals, we believe that it is our responsibility to mentor and educate our graduates in the importance of exhibiting caring and compassionate approaches to instruction and positive beliefs about the worth of all individuals regardless of age, gender, race, sexual orientation or level of disability.

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Visual Impairments

The TSVI concentration will prepare you to teach children with visual impairments from birth through 22 years of age. This 21-credit-hour concentration (seven courses) trains graduate-level students who already hold a valid Texas teaching certificate. Instructional arrangements and schedules are designed with the needs of the non-traditional student or working adult in mind. The requirements of the concentration can be completed in approximately one calendar year. TSVI candidates are primarily admitted once per year in cohorts beginning during the summer term (admission at other times is limited to courses without prerequisites).

We offer two tracks:

Graduate TSVI Concentration

Training begins with two summer classes:

After these six credit hours have been successfully completed, your school district can apply for an emergency permit so that you may serve as their TSVI while you continue enrollment in your training concentration. Candidates will be eligible to work and perform all duties of a TSVI under the emergency permit. Follow these instructions for obtaining an emergency permit as a TSVI. All candidates beginning their TSVI careers receive on-site support from experienced TSVI mentors and from university supervisors.

Upon completion of SPED 5317, Texas candidates are permitted to take the Texas Examination of Educators Standards (TExES) test for Braille (TExES 283 - UEB), one of two TExES tests required for full certification in Visual Impairment in the state of Texas.

After passing the two summer courses described above, the following courses* must be successfully completed in order to fulfill TSVI certification requirements:

*The fall and spring courses listed above are delivered in evenings via the internet, and do not require travel to your local ESC.

Those of you living/working in Texas are expected to successfully complete the state certification test in Visual Impairment (TExES 182 - Visually Impaired) at or near the end of your spring semester classes.

Candidates must successfully complete all instructional classes, examinations and practicum assignments in order to be eligible to add "Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments" to their official educator certificate. Candidates from other states should contact the concentration faculty to work collaboratively to ensure that local requirements are met.

Grant funding is available for Texas candidates in the TSVI concentration. These funds pay for tuition and most fees. Funds are limited, and are allocated on a competitive basis. Applications for this grant funding are due March 1 each year. If selected, your grant funding is "paid back" through subsequent work in the field of visual impairment in Texas, as detailed in the grant agreement.

Candidates may wish to continue training to become COMS. This is referred to as dual certification. There may be funding assistance to add training toward national certification in orientation and mobility. Candidates may also obtain a master's degree in special education with a concentration in visual impairment or orientation and mobility. Currently, grant funds from our concentration can be used to cover only courses required for certification, but most of these certification courses will count toward completion of the M.Ed. Candidates may seek outside funds or self-pay for their required master's degree coursework.

Course Sequences

Master's in Special Education with a Concentration in Visual Impairment

Graduate-Level Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments -- Certificate Only

Faculty and Staff

Program Facilitator

Dr. Shannon Darst - TSVI

Program Assistant

Wendi Channel

Program Faculty

Ms. D.J. Dean - TSVI/COMS

Dr. Heather Munro - TSVI/COMS

Ms. Laura Hampton - TSVI

Mr. Jerry Mullins - TSVI/COMS

Beverly Jackson-COMS

Belinda Rudinger-Ed.D., TSBVI, ATP

Mailing Address

Visual Impairment Preparation Program
PO Box 13017, SFA Station
Nacogdoches, Tx 75962

Additional TSVI and O&M Information

Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments Graduate Concentration Brochure

Graduate Bulletin: Visual Impairment Concentration

Graduate Bulletin: Orientation and Mobility Concentration

Steps for TSVI Certification Application

Application deadline for possible grant funding for Texas students due March 1 of each year.