The goal for creating the Visual Impairment Consortium for Teacher Preparation is to increase the number of teachers available to meet the unique needs of students who are Blind/Visually Impaired. The diversification of the program offered by institutions of higher education in multiple states, including one Michigan university, will provide students the flexibility to choose courses among a variety of institutions that have well-established programs in Visual Impairment (VI).
Eligibility for Program
- Completed bachelor’s degree.
- Valid or pending Michigan teaching certificate with a special education endorsement.
- General education teachers without a special education endorsement must complete a set of approved foundation courses in special education.
- Teachers holding a teaching certificate from outside of Michigan can be admitted to the consortium and complete the program but will not receive tuition support.
- Out-of-state teachers: contact Western Michigan University (WMU) for approval to register for a course.
- Consortium students get priority status in registration.
- Out-of-state teachers need to check with their own states to determine whether the consortium course offerings will satisfy that state’s VI certification requirements.
Western Michigan University
Dawn Anderson, Ph.D.
Department of Blindness and Low Vision Studies
1903 W. Michigan Ave.
Kalamazoo, MI 49008-5218
Office Phone: 269-387-5944
Before 2009, several Visual Impairment (VI) and Deaf/Hard of Hearing (DHH) teacher preparation programs were offered at Michigan universities. Within a few years, however, both DHH teacher programs closed their doors and four out of five VI teacher programs ended, causing an impending teacher shortage in both areas.
When programs began closing their doors, Dr. Jacquelyn Thompson, then-director of the Michigan Department of Education Office of Special Education, had the foresight to begin finding a solution to the teacher shortage.
Dr. Thompson assembled two committees, one focusing on DHH and one focusing on VI, to gather knowledge from a broad range of stakeholders. Each group met separately for two years and gained insight into the nationwide teacher shortage. In 2011, the two groups met face-to-face and shared issues and recommendations.
After considering the committees’ data and recommendations, Roxanne Balfour, Joanne Winkelman, Nancy Mosher, and Collette Bauman created two consortia of in-state and out-of-state universities. Each consortium allows certified teachers in Michigan to earn an additional VI or DHH endorsement online through participating universities.
Students have the option to choose courses from any of the participating universities. These courses are offered through a variety of online platforms, video conferencing, and face-to-face meetings.
Tuition reimbursement is currently available to eligible students who are certified teachers in Michigan.