NEWS

Institute on Blindness gets grant extension for improved mobility and rehabilitation programs

Mar 20, 2020 | Education, General News, Students

Louisiana Tech’s Institute on Blindness has received grant approval for Structured Discovery Cane Travel (SDCT) and Structured Discovery rehabilitation training, a development that brings more depth and opportunity to the Institute’s education programs that are specialized for teaching individuals who are blind or visually impaired.  

Louisiana Tech University is the only university in Louisiana to offer graduate certifications and master programs in Teaching Blind Students (TBS), Orientation and Mobility (O&M), and Rehabilitation Teaching for the Blind Counseling and Guidance. These graduate certifications and master programs train individuals to become teachers who help give independence to the blind community. The innovative and effective SDCT and Structured Discovery rehabilitation training programs will offer more opportunities to improve mobility and daily living skills for individuals who are blind or visually impaired. 

Dr. Edward Bell, Director of the Professional Development and Research Institute on Blindness (PDRIB), expressed that he has seen great success from previous years and through the renewed grant he anticipates exponential growth.

“Over the past five years, Louisiana Tech has benefited from this grant and has trained 35 individuals who have gone on to be employed across the country in professional careers,” Bell said. “With this new grant, we are excited to train as many as 40 new and eager students who are ready to change the world by bringing independence to blind kids and adults nationwide.”

The PDRIB, housed in Tech’s College of Education, prepares highly qualified professionals to educate and rehabilitate individuals who are blind or visually impaired. The PDRIB also conducts thorough research that broadens perspectives, deepens the overall understanding of blindness, and seeks the best methods to increase independence for individuals who are blind or visually impaired.

However, there is a nationwide shortage of educators for the blind and visually impaired community. With a 90% illiteracy rate and a 75% unemployment rate nationwide within the blind community, there is a dire need to increase the number of educators trained in teaching students with visual impairments. Job opportunities have grown exponentially for teaching blind or visually impaired students; currently there are four times the number of teaching jobs available than there are the number of qualified educators and instructors to fill those positions. 

Through their job assistance placement services and new program offerings, Bell and his team seek to do their part to fill this hiring need and empower educators to change lives within the visually impaired community.

All tuition and fees are covered for the Structured Discovery Cane Travel (SDCT) and Structured Discovery rehabilitation training programs. Scholarships are available on a competitive basis for those who pursue these programs. Students who receive scholarship funding must work in the field of rehabilitation for two years for each year of their scholarship support. 

To become an educator for the blind and visually impaired community, contact Bell at ebell@latech.edu. For more details on how to make a difference in the national shortage of teachers for the blind and visually impaired, visit pdrib.com