Frequently Asked Questions
A TBVI is a special educator who works with children and students who are blind and visually impaired, including students with multiple disabilities. The role of the TBVI is to ensure that students receive appropriate assessment, eligibility, and IEP development, instruction, accommodations, and modifications in the educational settings and to teach the Expanded Core Curriculum. TBVIs offer both direct and consultation services and collaborate with general/special education teachers, family members, administrators, and various service providers.
Teachers of students who are blind or visually impaired work in a variety of settings, including, public and private schools, schools for students who are blind and visually impaired, as contracting teachers, and for state agencies.
TBVIs are in high demand in Virginia and across the United States. Multiple school systems in Virginia are seeking TBVIs.
Individuals who are residents of Virginia or work for Virginia schools are eligible to apply for VI Consortium grant funding. VI Consortium grant recipients agree to complete required coursework and internship in the program and to teach Virginia students who are blind and visually impaired. Grant recipients must maintain a GPA of 3.0 and abide by professional and ethical standards, their university honor code and policies, and exhibit and maintain satisfactory dispositions. Grant funding is not guaranteed for each semester and is dependent off of continued funding and programing availability.
Yes, out-of-state students can apply to any of our universities and take courses/earn a degree. However, grant funding is reserved only for those who live/work in Virginia. George Mason University offers discounted out-of-state tuition for those who do not reside in Virginia and are not candidates for the VI Consortium grant.
Each candidate’s anticipated program duration varies depending on several circumstances, including the number of credits taken each semester and any accepted transfer courses that alter the program’s timeline. All candidates are required to make an initial advising appointment at their home university and develop a program of studies with their academic advisor. This document will define a potential time frame for completion. All candidates in the VI Consortium are also required to have regular advising sessions for any changes to the individual program of studies. Candidates who wish to have existing coursework transferred to their university for consideration towards this degree must follow procedures at their home university to transfer credits. Please contact your university advisor for transfer credit protocol and to learn of provisions related to candidates with existing coursework that meets their university transfer guidelines, which may include limitations on the number of credits transferred and the time allowed since you completed the course(s) you wish to transfer. For some full-time students, the program may be completed in about a year and a half, which includes 300 internship/practicum hours. Part-time students can expect to complete the program in two to three years, depending on the number of credits taken each semester. For students who already have special education teaching licensure, some courses may be waived.
VI Consortium students do not need to be full time students to participate. While some students take courses on a full-time bases, many are employed and have family obligations and take courses on a part-time basis.
The VI Consortium program has rolling admissions and you can start taking courses in the fall, spring or summer. You must apply at least one month in advance to the VI Consortium. Each university has different application deadlines for admissions. Go to the Application Process link for more information.
Yes. You will need to complete the full VI Consortium program in addition to general special education courses. These are, Introduction to Special Education, Positive Behavior Supports, Consultation and Collaboration, and Language Development and Reading. (Note: these courses go by different titles for some universities.). You will also need to complete internship/practicum credits.
All applicants must receive advising to determine which courses are needed for their individual program of studies and to determine if any prior coursework can be transferred to this degree. Please make an appointment with your university faculty member/university advisor to develop your program of studies.
Most blindness/vision impairment courses are offered on-line via web-conferencing. The Orientation and Mobility course does have an on-campus lab portion of the class that meets for three days at Mason’s Fairfax campus. Other general special education classes that are not blindness/vision impairment specific, have varied formats and may require on-campus attendance.
Admission GPA requirements vary between participating universities. VI Consortium grant applicants must have and maintain a 3.0 to receive grant supported funding.
Admission testing requirements vary between participating universities. Check the participating university website or contact your university liaison for more information. The Virginia Department of Education requires specific tests for licensure and it is important that you review these requirements and discuss them at your initial and continued academic advising appointments.
Graduate application deadlines for each semester vary between participating universities. Check the participating university website or contact your university liaison for more information. The VI Consortium application is due at least one month before courses begin for the starting semester.
Braille is a fundamental and essential skill for students who are blind and visually impaired to access literacy. All teacher candidates must satisfactorily pass six credits of braille coursework and master Unified English Braille (literary and numeric), Nemeth Code, and other specialized braille codes. This includes the ability to read, write, transcribe, and produce braille codes with electronic and manual methods (brailler and slate & stylus). Candidates in braille courses must also demonstrate the ability to plan for and teach braille literacy lessons, write IEP goals, and evaluate progress with data-based evidence.
Success in the braille courses requires candidates to practice braille skills on a daily basis. It is advised to begin familiarizing yourself with beginning principles of Unified English Braille, especially the alphabet, prior to taking braille courses to facilitate acquisition of skills. Here are resources to help you get started: https://uebonline.org/ Great tool to learn braille! Start with the literary UEB lessons. The VI Consortium created a video showing how to use Perky Duck, which is a free online download. You can use Perky Duck with the free online NLS curriculum or you can purchase the course's Ashcroft book now and start practicing from the book. VI Consortium video on Perky Duck NLS Curriculum (Free online)
In order to receive accommodations in VI Consortium courses, you must apply to the disability accommodation office at your home university and provide your accommodation letter to your instructors privately in a timely manner
If you need to take a semester or more off from your degree working to become a TBVI, please notify your university and comply with all protocol to take a leave of absence. All VI Consortium universities have time limits on the number of years students have to complete their degrees. Please also notify the VI Consortium coordinator of your leave of absence. Candidates who wish to resume their studies after a leave of absence must follow procedures at their home university to reinstate active status and resubmit the VI Consortium application. The VI Consortium does not guarantee funding will be available to candidates or at their participating university at reapplication and readmission after a leave of absence.
Virginia currently does not have a full orientation and mobility program. Candidates in the VI Consortium are required to take Orientation and Mobility for Students with Visual Impairments, which is an introductory course that covers basic concepts relevant for a TBVI. This course does not certify or qualify a TBVI to be a full orientation and mobility instructor.