Dr. James Leja, Chair
Main Office: 4464 CHHS Bldg.
Telephone: (269) 387-3455
FAX: (269) 387-3567
Robert Wall Emerson
The Department of Blindness and Low Vision Studies offers four master’s degree programs. The programs in Orientation and Mobility and in Rehabilitation Teaching are approved by the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired. The program in Rehabilitation Counseling is accredited by the Council on Rehabilitation Education.
It is the vision of the Department to strengthen our leadership positions in personnel preparation and research in order to enhance the seamless integration of individuals with visual impairments into their desired roles in society and to facilitate their socio-economic and vocational equality.
Our mission is to provide instruction, conduct research, and offer professional service in an effort to prepare students to serve individuals with visual impairments. We are dedicated to the science of best practice, the responsible use of human and economic resources, the advancement of people with disabilities in society, and the delivery of quality rehabilitation and education services worldwide.
The programs are designed to prepare individuals for entry-level positions in Orientation and Mobility, Rehabilitation Teaching, Rehabilitation Counseling/Teaching, and Teaching Children Who Are Visually Impaired/Orientation and Mobility in public and private blindness agencies, in schools, and in rehabilitation facilities. The Orientation and Mobility and the Rehabilitation Teaching programs require 37 and 39 semester hours of course work respectively. The Rehabilitation Counseling/Teaching program requires 76 semester hours of course work. The Teaching Children Who Are Visually Impaired/Orientation and Mobility with a Concentration in Teaching Children program requires 65 semester hours. Curriculum guides for the four programs are available from the Department office.
The professional preparation for students entering any of the four degree programs described below includes academic study on campus, simulated disability experiences, a research project, field practice or comprehensive examination, and an off-campus supervised clinical field experience. Federal grants from the United States Department of Education provide students enrolled in most masters’ programs with tuition assistance and stipend awards.
Admission Requirements Admission to a Master of Arts program in the department is based upon undergraduate academic record, appropriate goals, related experience, interpersonal and communication skills, emotional maturity, and functional independence. Prior to consideration by the M.A. Admissions Committee, applicants are required to complete a departmental application obtained from the Department of Blindness and Low Vision Studies and a Graduate Self-Managed Application obtained from the Office of Admissions and Orientation. Upon admission, an applicant is assigned an advisor who will assist in preparing a Program of Study.
Not every applicant who meets minimum admission requirements can be admitted; the department reserves discretion in admission of the most highly qualified applicants.
The Department strives to create an atmosphere conducive to the concerns of diverse populations, to integrate these concerns into programs and course offerings.
- Complete the “Graduate Admission Application” available from WMU Admissions or online at the www.wmich.edu website.
- Complete the “Blindness and Low Vision Studies Department Application” available online at http://www.wmich.edu/hhs/blrh/graduate/MA%20option%20form.doc or by contacting the Department.
- Submit a two-page biographical essay that includes reasons for pursuing a degree in blindness and low vision studies, professional goals, an assessment of personal assets and liabilities, and one’s life experiences that might be useful in work as a helping professional.
- Submit Departmental Recommendation Forms completed by three professionals knowledgeable of the applicant’s academic and/or the applicant’s professional experience.
- WMU Graduate Admission require two copies of all university transcripts. Minimum grade point average for regular admission is a 3.00 in the last sixty credit hours of undergraduate study.
Distance Education The Department offers the opportunity for pursuing some of its degrees via distance education format. Currently, the programs in Teaching Children with Visual Impairments, Orientation and Mobility, and Rehabilitation Teaching are available. Most didactic lecture-based courses are presented in alternative format, while the experiential skills courses are compressed into one or two summertime sessions. All distance education offerings require off-campus clinical field experience. Admission requirements for students pursuing distance education include providing assurances of agency or school support. Contact the respective program advisor for details.