Rehabilitation of the Blind

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Admissions | Program Requirements | Graduate Courses

Dickinson Hall, Room 515 G, (501) 569-8129, website
Due to several significant budget cuts and the forthcoming retirement of the only faculty member in the Rehabilitation Teaching/ Vision Rehabilitation Therapy Program, the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR) is suspending admissions to the RT/VRT. No new students will be accepted into the program after summer, 2010. UALR will phase out the RT/VRT courses over a two year period of time in order to meet the commitment to the current students in the program.

Note: The closure of the RT program does NOT affect the other rehabilitation programs offered at UALR: the Orientation & Mobility and Rehabilitation Counseling Programs will continue.

Master of Arts in Rehabilitation of the Blind Orientation & Mobility Instruction

The master of arts in rehabilitation of the blind: Orientation and Mobility program develops skills in teaching both congenitally and adventitiously blind and low-vision persons in a wide range of education and rehabilitation agencies nationwide. The program offers an emphasis in orientation and mobility instruction. The program is open to both full-time and part-time students. Many of the courses are offered in a web-based format. Students may expect to enroll in 1-3 online courses each semester (two courses is the recommended maximum).

The Online Master of Arts Degree Program in Orientation and Mobility prepares professionals to provide orientation and mobility services to people who are blind or visually impaired. Orientation & Mobility Specialists provide consumers with skills to maximize environmental information and to process and utilize it to make judgments and decisions for independent travel while using their remaining vision, long canes or dog guides. The Program provides the coursework and supervised fieldwork experiences required for certification by the Academy for the Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals (ACVREP).

There is a recognized national shortage of Orientation and Mobility Specialists. In response to shortages of personnel in the rehabilitation and education fields specific to vision impairment, the Department of CARE offers a Master of Arts degree and Certificate program in Orientation and Mobility. The programs are available online through part-time study, including some face-to-face classes provided in Little Rock and, in special instances, in other states.

Students must commit to coming to Little Rock for two consecutive summers to enroll in the blindfold simulation classes and student teaching. Summer classes usually run for the last three weeks in June, and students receive free room and some meals either at the Arkansas School for the Blind or at World Services for the Blind, where classes are held. In exchange for the living accommodations, students must agree to assist in light recreational duties (or student teaching responsibilities) with the children at the school. Internships may be arranged in the student’s home community under the supervision of a certified O&M instructor. Students adhering to a prescribed program of study may be able to complete the degree in 2.5-3 years. For more specific information, visit the O&M program website.

This emphasis teaches a reliable system for establishing and maintaining awareness of one’s position in the environment (orientation) and fostering freedom and spontaneity of movement (mobility). It enables blind and low-vision persons to overcome the severe problems of mobility by teaching them to travel safely, efficiently, and confidently.

Sequential instruction in sensory and movement skills is based on a thorough evaluation of needs and abilities related to the functional use of the existing senses and requirements of a prosthetic travel aid. Instruction is provided in the use of adaptive equipment such as canes, telescopes, and electronic travel aids. For more specific information, visit the O&M program website.

Program Options

Students may extend their programs and complete a second master’s degree in a related area or a master’s degree and course work leading to certification eligibility in a second area. A minimum of 60 credit hours is required for two master’s degrees. Students electing one of these options must be fully admitted into both program emphases areas and be advised by the program coordinator.

National Certification

Graduates qualify to apply for national certification by the Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals. The Academy has established standard competencies that orientation and mobility graduates must meet for national certification.

Admission Requirements

Regular Admission

  • Completed application to the UALR Graduate School
  • Baccalaureate degree from a recognized accredited institution with a cumulative undergraduate grade point average (GPA) of at least 2.75 (4.0 scale) or 3.0 in the last 60 hours (official transcripts required) or a master’s degree or higher from an accredited institution of higher education
  • Interview with program coordinator
  • A personally written essay of no more than 500 words describing the applicant’s background, experiences, and goals for choosing a career in Orientation and Mobility. There is no specific form or format that is required. Applicant’s name, address, telephone number, email, major, and semester to begin the program are to be included on the essay. The essay is to be sent to the program coordinator: orientation & mobility.
  • Personal characteristics considered in the admission process include leadership potential, emotional and social maturity, innovation, and potential for success in the chosen emphasis area. All orientation and mobility instruction students must possess good health as well as communication skills such that they can monitor their blind clients’ safety at a distance beyond their reach.

Conditional Admission

If applicants do not meet the admission standards outlined above, they may be considered for conditional admission with an undergraduate GPA of 2.75 or above and documented evidence of their ability to succeed in graduate-level work. This documentation may include official transcripts from all universities attended, successful graduate course work from an accredited university, examples of academic and professional work, test scores from the GRE and/or MAT, and letters of reference. The program admissions committee will evaluate the documentation. Students must move from conditional to regular status after the completion of 12 semester hours in the program. They must have an overall GPA of at least 3.0 for the 12 credit hours of course work and a grade of B or greater in designated program courses.

Sample Program of Study by Semester

Students adhering to a prescribed program of study may be able to complete the degree in approximately 2.5 years.

Fall I:

RHBL 7316 Principles of O&M
RHBL 7315 Medical Aspects of Blindness and Associated Disabilities

Spring I:

COUN 7362 Psychological Aspects of Disability
RHBL 7325 Low Vision Implications

Summer I (in Little Rock):

RHBL 7317 Introduction of Methods of Mobility

Fall II:

COUN 7360 Rehabilitations Foundations
EDFN 7303 Introduction to Research (online or transferred in)

3 hour elective (online or transferred in)

Spring II:

SPED 7305 Managing the Learning Environment (online or transferred in)
*CNSL 7302 Techniques of the Counseling Interview

[*Please note this course requires a three-day workshop in Little Rock at the end of the semester. Accommodations may be made to offer the workshop in Little Rock just prior to or during the next summer term. Contact the course instructor for more details and information before registering.]

Summer II (in Little Rock):

RHBL 7318 Advanced Methods of Mobility
RHBL 7390 Practicum in O&M

Fall III:

RHBL 7395 Internship. This course requires a minimum of 275 direct teaching hours and a minimum of 350 total hours and can be taken in one’s home community. Full-time internships might be completed by the end of this semester or extended into the next academic term. Part-time internships will definitely extend into the next academic term. Site location and supervision must be approved by the faculty advisor.


Graduate Certificate in Orientation and Mobility of the Blind

Students wishing to be qualified to apply for national certification in Orientation and Mobility (O&M) without seeking the master’s degree emphasis area in O&M may enroll in the Graduate Certificate in O&M. Students must hold a bachelor’s or master’s degree from an accepted university program.

Admission Requirements

Students must meet the same admission requirements as those who apply for the master’s degree program.

Program Requirements

Orientation & Mobility Foundations Courses:

RHBL 7325 Implications of Low Vision
RHBL 7315 Medical Aspects of Blindness and Associated Disabilities
COUN 7362 Psychological Aspects of Disability, or transfer into their program equivalent courses with approval of the O&M coordinator

Core Orientation & Mobility Courses (with a grade of B or better ):

RHBL 7316 Principles of Orientation and Mobility for the Visually Impaired
RHBL 7317 Introduction to Methods of Mobility for the Blind
RHBL 7318 Advanced Methods of Mobility for the Blind
RHBL 7390 Supervised Practice and, RHBL 7395 Internship

Graduation Requirements

  • Cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 in an approved program of study.
  • Grades of B or greater in designated core courses.
  • Grades of C or greater in all other approved courses.

Courses in Rehabilitation of the Blind

RHBL 5102, 5202 Workshop
Offered on demand.

RHBL 5302 WS: Basic Independent Living Skills for Individuals with Visual Impairments
Introduction to concepts and techniques to teach individuals with visual impairments the skills and knowledge needed to function in diverse environments. Topics related to the expanded core curriculum will include: concept and motor development, spatial organization and orientation, and skills in the areas of basic orientation and mobility, personal management, communication, and recreation & leisure. The course will be offered online with a required one-week hands-on workshop.

RHBL 7111 Introduction to Independent Living for Persons with Visual Impairments
Introduction to rehabilitation services, social services, professional organizations; introduction to daily living and communication skills for persons with visual impairments. Offered on demand.

RHBL 7112 Psychological Aspects of Blindness and Visual Impairment
Historical attitudes toward blindness; impact of culture and gender on attitudes toward disability, methodologies of attitude change, process of adjustment to blindness and vision loss. Offered on demand.

RHBL 7115 Techniques of Teaching Leisure Time Activities to Persons with Visual Impairments
Methodologies for teaching recreation and leisure skills to adults with visual impairments. Offered on demand.

RHBL 7191, 7291, 7391 Independent Study
Prerequisite: consent of instructor. Offered on demand.

RHBL 7193, 7293, 7393 Special Topics
In -depth study of a topic of special interest. Offered on demand.

RHBL 7270 Interpersonal Skills Training for Counselors
Carkhuff, related models of interpersonal skills development; focus on developing skill in providing core conditions of a helping/counseling relationship. Offered on demand.

RHBL 7310 Methods of Teaching Adaptive Living Skills to
Persons with Visual Impairments Prerequisites: RHBL 5302 WS: Basic Independent Living Skills and RHBL 7312 Braille and Relevant Formats. Methodologies for teaching adaptive skills necessary to perform daily living activities; includes personal management, home management, medical management, and workplace management. Required one week hands -on workshop as part of the online course.

RHBL 7311 Methods of Teaching Adaptive Communication Skills to Persons with Visual Impairments
Prerequisite: RHBL 7312 Braille and Relevant Formats. Methodologies for teaching expressive and receptive adaptive communication skills, including Braille, keyboarding, handwriting, recording, and use of assistive computer technology. Required one week hands-on workshop as part of the online course.

RHBL 7312 Braille and Relevant Formats
Skills of reading and writing Contracted Standard English Braille, including transcription rules and formats, use of slate and stylus, use of Perkins Braillers. Students taking this course must have the potential ability to tactually or visually discriminate embossed Braille configurations and may use assistive devices as needed. Students who are uncertain of their ability to meet this requirement should contact the program coordinator for further information and clarification.

RHBL 7314 Principles of Rehabilitation Teaching
Prerequisites: consent of the instructor. Principles and philosophies of providing rehabilitation teaching services to adults of all ages with visual impairments; includes conducting needs assessment interviews, writing individualized teaching plans.

RHBL 7315 Medical Aspects of Blindness and Associated Disabilities
Anatomy, structure, function of the eye; frequently occurring diseases, malfunctions in children and adults; includes treatment procedures for disease process, rehabilitation and education implications of handicapped effects.

RHBL 7316 Principles of Orientation and Mobility for the Visually Impaired
Fundamental principles, theory of sensory information acquisition by the severely visually impaired for nonvisual locomotion; practical applications.

RHBL 7317 Introduction to Methods of Mobility for the Blind
Prerequisites: graduate standing, consent of instructor. Practical application of orientation and mobility techniques used by blind, visually impaired; blindfolds, low -vision simulators emphasize use of residual senses to perceive, integrate, react to environmental stimuli; examination, application of fundamental principles, theory of sensory information acquisition by the severely visually impaired. Hands -on workshop required.

RHBL 7318 Advanced Methods of Mobility for the Blind
Prerequisites: RHBL 7317, consent of instructor. Techniques of independent mobility for the blind; includes supervised blindfold activities in commercial, rural environments; requires special travel situations, use of public assistance and public transportation, shopping malls, in -store travel. Hands-on workshop required.

RHBL 7325 Implications of Low Vision
Prerequisite: RHBL 7315 Medical Aspects or consent of the instructor. Principles of visual perception development; implications of visual field losses; introduction to optics; optical, non -optics low -vision aids, procedures for vision screening; vision stimulation activities; low -vision simulation experiences. Required hands -on workshop as part of the online course or exemption from the course instructor.

RHBL 7390 Supervised Practice
Prerequisite: consent of the instructor. Faculty supervised practice in the use of required skills and competencies in the rehabilitation of individuals with visual impairments in rehabilitation or education settings.

RHBL 7395 Internship
Prerequisite: consent of the instructor. Professional rehabilitation work experiences in an appropriate rehabilitation or educational setting with individuals with visual impairments.

RHBL 7399 Professional Project
Prerequisite: consent of instructor. Development of an original professional paper or media production in student’s area of emphasis; content determined with faculty committee chosen by student; may be research project, grant proposal, philosophical statement, media production. Offered on demand.
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