Teacher of the Blind/Visually Impaired
Masters Degree Program at The College of New Jersey
Nationally there is a severe shortage of teachers skilled in educating students who are blind or visually impaired (American Foundation for the Blind, 2005). The National Agenda for the Education of Children and Youth with Visual Impairments, a grassroots effort by professionals and parents, outlines a plan of action for making sure blind and visually impaired children receive the appropriate education to which they are entitled (Stryker, Huebner, & Hatlen, 1999). Goal 3 of the National Agenda specifically calls for colleges to educate a sufficient number of teachers to meet national personnel needs.
Exacerbating the problem in New Jersey is that until this year no institution of higher education offered a certification program for Teachers of the Blind/Visually Impaired. Teachers in New Jersey who wanted to teach students who are blind/visually impaired had to go out-of-state – to New York or Pennsylvania – to take courses toward certification. Now, however, teachers have an in-state option for graduate coursework. The College of New Jersey, with support from the New Jersey Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired, is developing a masters degree program that will meet the state’s recently revised certification requirements. (See New Jersey Department of Education (2004) for the new certification regulations.)
Students enrolled in this graduate program will be prepared to meet the varied demands of teacher of the blind/visually impaired positions. Coursework includes the following: Implications of Blindness/Visual Impairments, Braille Literacy, Nemeth Code, Strategies for Teaching Blind/Visually Impaired Students, Collaboration and Partnerships, Teaching Students with Severe/Multiple Disabilities, and Assistive Technology for Blind/Visually Impaired Students. Most courses will be scheduled only once a year and will be offered in the late afternoon (5:00) to accommodate the schedules of working people. The deadline for fall admission is April 15th. For information on the application process go to www.tcnj.edu/graduate.
American Foundation for the Blind (2005). AFB Comments in response to the December 29, 2004 Notice of Request for comments and recommendations on regulatory issues under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Sec. 602 Highly Qualified Personnel. Accessed online December 5, 2005: www.afb.org/Section.asp?SectionID=3&TopicID=138&DocumentID=2698
New Jersey Department of Education (2004). Licensure and credentials, 6A:9-11.3. Accessed online: February 28, 2006:
Stryker, D.; Huebner, K. & Hatlen, P. (1999). A call to action: Practical suggestions for the achievement of the National Agenda goals. Paper presented at Josephine Taylor Leadership Institute, Washington, D.C. Accessed online: December 5, 2005,