You can become a braille teacher by completing a special education program with an emphasis on the visually impaired or by completing 480 hours of training at a facility approved by the National Blindness Professional Certification Board. As of 2013, there were 27 approved degree programs in 21 states and six approved training facilities in six states. Public schools often require teachers of the visually impaired to have a special education degree and certification.
Get a Special Education Degree
The most straightforward route to becoming a teacher of the visually impaired is to earn a special education degree from a program that is approved by the National Blindness Professional Certification Board. Programs are available at the undergraduate and graduate levels and require students to complete approximately 21 credits in courses related to teaching visually impaired and blind students, as well as additional education credits and the completion of student-teaching.
Special Education Certification
Upon completion of your degree program, you will take teaching certification exams in your state. Exams will test you in the principles of learning and teaching and in content specific to special education. By passing these exams and completing an approved special education teacher program, you will become a certified special education teacher in your state.
National Blindness Professional Certification Board
Many employers prefer hiring teachers of the visually impaired who have earned National Orientation and Mobility Certification from the National Blindness Professional Certification Board. To be eligible for certification, you must complete an approved special education degree program or 480 hours of apprenticed instruction at a facility approved by the NBPCB and a bachelor's degree. Valid for a five-year period, you must complete 100 continuing education credits for renewal. Teachers of braille should also consider obtaining the National Certification in Literary Braille, earned by passing the National Certification in Literary Braille exam.
Visual Impairment Degree Programs
As of 2013, there were approved visual impairment degree programs in Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, Ohio, Oregon, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.
NBPCB-Approved Training Facilities
As of 2013, National Blindness Professional Certification Board-approved training facilities were the National Federation of the Blind Center in Minneapolis, Minn.; the National Federation of the Blind Center in Littleton, Colo.; the National Federation of the Blind in Ruston, La.; the Ho`opono Services for the Blind Orientation Center in Honolulu, Hawaii; the New Mexico Commission for the Blind, Orientation Center in Alamogordo, N.M.; and the Nebraska Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Orientation Center in Lincoln, Neb.
Blindness and Low Vision Programs
A shortage of teachers of the visually impaired has resulted in the creation of online programs that help train individuals to become teachers of the blind and visually impaired. These programs, such as Missouri State University's blindness and low-vision program, are open individuals with bachelor's degrees, with or without a teacher certification. These programs are often offered on a part-time basis and take around two to three years to complete.
Apply for Jobs
Even with a national shortage of trained teachers of the visually impaired, available jobs might not be in your geographic location. For the best job prospects, consider relocating. If this is not possible, bring your resume and copies of your valid certifications to nearby schools to let them know you're seeking a job as a braille teacher. Whenever public schools enroll a student who is visually impaired or blind, they must hire a teacher trained to teach them. In the meantime, your special education certification makes you eligible for other teaching jobs, which you can take until a braille position surfaces.
- Teachingvisuallyimpaired.com: Teaching Students With Visual Impairments: Professional Preparation Programs
- National Blindness Professional Certification Board: NBPCB Center Approval
- The Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Special Education Teachers
- The National Blindness Professional Certification Board: NOMC Certification
- The National Blindness Professional Certification Board: National Certification in Literary Braille Certification (NCLB)
- Missouri State University: Teacher Certification Office: Blindness and Low Vision Programs
- American Foundation for the Blind: Educating Blind and Visually Impaired Students: Policy Guidance from OSERS
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