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Flinders University

GPO Box 2100
Adelaide 5001
South Australia

Contact: Dr. Carolyn Palmer
Phone: +61 8 8 201 3379
Fax:     +61 8 8 201 3184
Email: 

  • Orientation and Mobility
  • Multiple Disability
  • Visually Impaired
  • Deafblind
  • Rehabilitation Teaching
  • Graduate – Certificate
  • Graduate – Master’s level
  • Graduate – Doctoral level
  • Summer
  • Academic Year
  • Distance Education (Flexible Delivery: ITV, Internet)

URL: http://www.flinders.edu.au/

* Financial support is available through traineeships, scholarships, or other financial aid.   We offer a Graduate Certificate in Education (Vision Impairment) which articulates into the Master of Education (Special Education).  Students can take most topics in areas relating to Studies in Vision Impairment (1&2), Braille, Counseling. A practicum is also an option, and topics in hearing impairment are also available online.  We no longer offer the Master of Education for Orientation and Mobility.
NOTES: Students can undertake a graduate certificate in education (Vision Impairment)


University of Newcastle/Renwick Center

Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children
Private Bag 29
Parramatta NSW 2124
Australia

Contact:  Claire Farrington, Executive Officer, Graduate Studies

Contact Phone:  (02) 9872 0811
Contact Fax:  (02) 9873 1614
Email: 

VI Contact:  Dr. Frances Gentle

VI Phone:  (02) 9872 0808

Email: 

Contact:  Sue Silveira

Phone:  (02) 9872 0248

Email: 

  • Orientation and Mobility
  • Multiple impairments
  • Visually impaired
  • Travel instruction
  • Graduate – Certification/licensure only
  • Graduate – Master’s level
  • Graduate – Doctoral level
  • Distance learning via outreach
  • Distance learning via other methods or a combination of methods
  • Summer
  • Academic year

URL: http://www.ridbc.org.au/renwick/courses/postgraduate.asp

Compiled by KC Dignan, PhD

Downloadable versions of this document PDF DOC

Introduction

Since 1996 the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired has conducted an annual survey to assess the need for VI professionals in Texas. “VI professionals” includes teachers certified in visual impairments (VI teachers) and certified orientation and mobility specialists (O&M). Individuals with both certifications are referred to as “dually certified.” This report will provide information about the results of the survey conducted in September 2009.

The most striking findings include:

  • A comparison of VI professionals in Texas since 1996 indicates an 87.2 increase in the past 14 years.
  • In 2009, the total number of full- and part-time VI professionals increased to 949 or a 12.7% increase since 2008.
    • The number of full- and part-time VI teachers increased to 701, or a 20% increase. The number of FTEs increased from 511.5 to 596.
    • However, this increase was not mirrored in the O&M data, which saw a reduction of 5% in the number of individuals available.
  • For the first time in 9 years the rate of attrition within the past year decreased. However, 115 or 12% of VI professionals are projected to leave the field within the next 3 years.
  • The number of new positions created is not keeping pace with growth. With an average VI student increase of 3%, we need to plan not only for attrition, but growth, just to keep pace with current levels of services.
  • Excluding one region which changed its service delivery model, the number of new VI teachers was the lowest change since this data was first collected in 2000, a mere 19 new VI teachers.
  • The cultural diversity of VI professionals is changing improving. While the diversity is similar to other educators in Texas, it is not keeping pace with the student population.
  • Universities are training as many VI professionals as funds allow. There are 150 VI professionals in a post-baccalaureate program either as VI teachers or O&M specialists. There are 11 undergraduate students in training.

Data was collected from the 20 regional education service centers and the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI). Because TSBVI serves all of Texas, the concentration of students and VI professionals is such that TSBVI data are collected separately from that of regional education service centers (ESCs). Unless otherwise noted TSBVI data is included in the data presented in this report.

More information about how this data was collected is included in the Appendix.

Characteristics of VI professionals in Texas

The survey asked about the number of people functioning as VI professionals. Similarly, many professionals may have certification as both a teacher certified in visual impairments (TVI or VI teacher) and an orientation and mobility (O&M) specialist. However, not all such dually certified professionals function in both capacities every year. Only data on those who are functioning as dually certified is collected.

Number of VI professionals in Texas

This data has been gathered annually since 1996. Over a 13 year-span the number has increased dramatically. This year the number of VI professionals in Texas has increased by 87.2% since 1996. A chart showing the changes is below.

Chart 1: Growth of VI Professionals in Texas. data below. shows a trend line from 540 in 1996 to 925 in 2009

Chart 1: Growth of VI Professionals in Texas
19961997199819992000200120022003200420052006200720082009
507 551 555 583 666 754 759 826.5 863 818 775 857 813 948.2

Double Brace: Since 1996, the number of VI professionals in Texas has increased by 87.2%.

Table 1: Total VI Professionals Statewide
  200720082009
  IndividualsFTE²IndividualsFTE²IndividualsFTE²
TSBVI Outreach¹ 23 21.5 23 21.5 23 21.5
ESC Leadership¹ 32 20.4 34 24 32 22.2
VI and O&M service providers (adjusted for dually certified professionals) 802 712.5 756 679 894 767.5
Total VI Staff 857 754.4 813 724.5 949 811.2

¹ TSBVI outreach and ESC consulting VI staff provide leadership/technical assistance statewide or within their region as part of their responsibilities. Educators at TSBVI or ESCs who provide direct educational service to students with visual impairments are counted as "VI and O&M direct service providers".

² FTE = (part-time x .5) + full-time for all charts

Direct service providers

Below are data about direct service providers. Direct service providers include VI teachers, O&M specialists and dually certified personnel who work with students on a regular basis and are the teacher of record for issues related to visual impairments.

This does not include those people at the regional education service centers (ESCs) who provide vision-related leadership or technical assistance as part of their responsibilities. The ESC leadership VI staff provides an array of services specifically related to students with visual impairments. Other responsibilities may include more general tasks related to low-performing schools, state accountability measures and transition. These responsibilities vary from ESC to ESC.

For the purposes of this survey, professionals who are certified in both visual impairments and orientation and mobility (dually certified) are counted as a part-time VI teacher and a part-time O&M specialist. These specialists will show up in the VI teacher data and the O&M data. All of the totals below about part-time VI professionals include both dually certified professionals. Information about the number of combined direct service providers has been adjusted for dually certified professionals.

A review of the data over time indicates growth over the past 5 years. However, a more detailed analysis showed an increased reliance on part-time VI professionals.

Table 2: Direct Service Provider: VI teachers
 200720082009
 IndividualsFTE¹IndividualsFTE¹IndividualsFTE¹
Full-time VI teachers 476   437   492  
Part-time VI teachers 75   82   144  
Dually certified VI professionals 72   67   65  
Total VI Staff 623 549.5 586 511.5 701 596.5

¹ FTE = .part-time x .5 + full-time for all charts

Chart 2: VI Teachers in Texas. data below

Chart 2: VI Teachers in Texas 2004 -2009
  200420052006200720082009
Full-time VI teachers 488 464 451 476 437 492
Part-time VI teachers 58 62 61 75 82 144
Dually certified VI professionals 72 72 62 72 67 65
Total FTE 553 531 512 549.5 511.5 596.5
Table 3: Direct Service Providers: O&M specialists
  200720082009
  IndividualsFTE1IndividualsFTE1IndividualsFTE1
Full-time O&M specialists 111   98   117  
Part-time O&M specialists 32   72   43  
Dually certified VI professionals 72   67   65  
Total O&M Staff 215 163 237 167.5 225 171
  • FTE = .part-time x .5 + full-time for all charts

Chart 3: O&M Specialists in Texas 2004 - 2009. data below

Chart 3: O&M Specialists in Texas
  200420052006200720082009
Full-time O&M specialists 106 100 98 111 98 117
Part-time O&M specialists 13 33 19 32 72 43
Dually certified VI professionals 72 72 62 72 67 65
Total O&M FTE 148.5 152.5 138.5 163 167.5 171

Part-time VI professionals have advantages and disadvantages.

  • They allow a district to meet the district’s needs for a small number of students.
  • They may be either employed by the district on a part-time contractual basis or have duties related to visual impairments as a portion of their full-time student caseload.

Either way, due to other commitments and/or responsibilities part-time staff are at-risk for not being able to provide the full caseload management, specifically instruction designed for and consultation needed for students to maximize their independence.

Chart 4: Percentage  of VI Professionals who are Full-Time. Trend line downward for Fulltime TVI 80% in 2001 to 75% in 2009. Trend line downward for O&M 58% in 2001 to 48% in 2009.

Chart 4: Percentage of VI Professionals who are Full-Time
  200120022003200420052006200720082009
Percentage of full-time TVIs 77.3% 77.3% 77.8% 79.0% 77.6% 78.6% 76.4% 74.6% 70.0%
Percentage of full-time O&M specialists 57.4% 57.4% 51.1% 57.7% 48.5% 54.7% 51.6% 41.4% 52.0%

The prevalence of a full-time VI teacher has been fairly consistent until recently. From an initial 77% in 2001 it stayed in the 77% - 78% range until 2007, with the high point being 78.6% in 2004. In 2007 it dropped to 76.4% and has been dropping steadily ever since. Currently only 69.6%, are full-time; a decrease of nearly 10% since 2004. This year the number of part-time VI teachers (including dually certified specialists) jumped from 149 to 209, a 40% increase.

The scenario is quite different for O&M services. The overall number of O&M specialists decreased by 5%. However, the percentage of full-time O&M specialists increased.

In 2001 57% of O&M specialists were employed full-time. The percentage of full-time O&M specialists reached a low in 2008 (41%) and increased in 2009 to 52%. While the increase is appreciated, it does not indicate an overall growth in the number of full-time O&M specialists who are able to dedicate all their time to working with children.

It is difficult to project the implications of this change. A statistical trend line indicates that overall, the prevalence of full-time VI professionals is decreasing. One large region reported a significant increase in part-time VI teachers. It could be due to data collection techniques necessary in the large region. It may also be due to anecdotal reports that a number of VI professionals have retired from their full-time position and are now working as part-time contract staff in another district. Yet, VI professionals who are fractured by other responsibilities and responding to different employers may also be challenged when it comes to meeting the VI-specific needs of their students. These elements will be watched more closely in the future to determine if a trend exists and the possible implications of such a trend.

Dually certified VI professionals

Dually certified VI professionals are those who are certified both as an O&M specialist and as a VI teacher. While many professionals may hold both certifications, not all dually certified professionals serve in both capacities. This survey gathers data only about those who function both as a VI teacher and an O&M specialist. This year’s data shows a slight decrease from last year. Since 2004 the number has fluctuated between 72 and 62. This year it was less than the two previous years: 65. This change is not considered significant. It likely reflects a shift in staffing needs within districts.

Dually certified professionals are unique and offer districts maximum flexibility. Administrators are able to modify work assignments according to the needs of the district and the students for a particular year. The changes between 2006 and 2008 likely reflect changes in staffing needs statewide.

At first glance, hiring staff who are dually certified may seem highly desirable. However, dually certified professionals also face unique challenges and best succeed when administrators have an understanding of both professions. The temptation is for administrators to assign dually

certified professionals a full time VI caseload and a full-time or even part-time O&M caseload. Since these are two separate professions, there is evidence that this is rarely successful at meeting the student’s needs in both areas. The students’ learning will be compromised. The VI professionals will be frustrated and may leave the district for a more reasonable caseload.

Table 4: Dually Certified Professionals
  200720082009
Dually certified 72 67 65

Direct service from ESCs

Each regional service center (ESC) provides an array of services to districts. Some services include direct services to students with visual impairments; the ESC staff is listed on the IEP. Of the 10 regions that provide any type of direct services, 3 provide VI services to 131 students. Ten regions provide direct O&M services to 178 students. Fifty-two additional students receive both VI and O&M services from the ESC.

The number of ESCs providing direct services decreased this year from 13 to 10. Changes in regional service delivery are typically a reflection of changes in district and/or ESC philosophy or capacity. One region has changed their service plan and will no longer be providing any direct VI services, but continues with O&M. Another region has an O&M vacancy and is not able to provide services. Once that vacancy is filled it plans to reinstate its O&M services. It is anticipated that the number of ESCs who provide direct services will change next year.

Chart  5: Students Receiving Services  from ESC

Chart 5: Students Receiving Services from ESC
  2003200420052006200720082009
VI Services 229 208 214 209 203 215 131
O&M Services 346 270 301 227 273 304 178
Both VI and O&M 35 46 81 54 96 44 52
Table 5: Students Receiving Services from ESCs
  200720082009
VI- only services (3 regions) 203 215 131
O&M-only services (10 regions) 273 304 178
Both VI and O&M (3 regions) 96 44 52
Total 522 563 361

Cultural diversity

Texas is a diverse state and needs a diverse workforce. This survey asks about African-American, Hispanic, and Asian VI professionals. It also queries the number of Spanish-speaking VI professionals. The results are listed below.

Table 6: Culturally Diverse VI Professionals (4 tables)

Hispanic VI professionals
  200720082009
VI teachers 63 67 72
O&M specialists 9 10 10
Dually certified 8 3 7
Total 80 80 89
Spanish-speaking VI professionals
  200720082009
VI teachers 68 75 84
O&M specialists 14 12 12
Dually certified 10 8 9
Total 92 95 105
Asian VI professionals
  200720082009
VI teachers 4 5 8
O&M specialists 0 0 0
Dually certified 0 0 1
Total 4 5 9
African-American VI professionals
  200720082009
VI teachers 17 18 23
O&M specialists 10 9 11
Dually certified 1 0 1
Total 28 27 35

This year there were overall increases in all areas of cultural diversity. Some individual categories maintained, while others increased.

In September 2009 there were 23 VI teachers, 11 O&M specialists, and one dually certified professional who are African-American, for an overall increase of 30%. The Hispanic VI professionals included 72 VI teachers, 10 O&M specialists and seven dually certified professionals, increasing their numbers by 11%. Eighty-four VI teachers, 12 O&M specialists and nine dually certified professionals speak Spanish. This is an increase of 11% from last year.

As of 2009, there are now eight Asian VI teachers, and one Asian dually certified VI professional. While the numbers are very small, it does represent an eighty percent increase.

With the progress made from the previous year, VI professionals are now moving into parity with educators in Texas. However, nationally recruiting and retaining culturally diverse educators remains a serious problem.

New Positions and Attrition

New Positions

According to the Annual Registration of Students with Visual Impairments, the number of students has increased by an average of 3% a year. Data about new positions to meet the increasing need has been collected since 2000. The number of new positions is an indication of Texas’ ability to meet the expanding need for VI professionals. Texas showed significant growth in 2003 and 2007 (31 and 37 new positions respectively). The lowest number of new positions occurred in 2005.

In 2009, the number of new positions increased for VI teachers but significantly declined for O&M specialists and dually certified staff. Meanwhile, 135 additional students are receiving O&M services. There was only a single new O&M position to meet the needs of these new students. Using a standard recommended formula for caseloads, this caseload growth should have resulted in at least 11 full-time-equivalent (FTE) positions for O&M specialists. Given that 48% of O&M specialists are employed by districts on a part-time basis, 11 FTEs is more likely to represent 14 individuals with O&M certificates needed to serve the increase.

It is likely that some part-time O&M specialists have increased their time with districts. However it is impossible to estimate if those increases are enough to meet the needs of all of these new students.

Chart 6: New VI Positions 2001-2009

Chart 6: New VI Positions 2001-2009
YEAR200120022003200420052006200720082009
TVI 34 33 48 28 17 26 37 26 33
O&M 11 5 4 12 5 5 5 5 1
Dual 5 5 6 1 3 3 1 3 1
Table 7: New VI Positions 2005-2009
  20052006200720082009
VI Teacher 17 26 37 26 33
O&M Specialist 5 5 5 5 1
Dual Certified 3 3 1 2 1
Total 25 34 43 33 35

The increase in new VI positions is very encouraging. This is due, in part, to a change in service delivery model in one region. Previously the ESC staff had been providing the majority of the VI services to the districts in that region. As of 2009 there are 14 new VI professionals in that region. This was the first time since 2003 that this region had developed any new VI positions. So this is, indeed, a significant development.

However, removing the new VI teachers from that region, only 19 new TVI or 21 total positions were created statewide. This is a serious decrease from previous years. In fact, it is the lowest number of new positions statewide since data collection was started in 2000. It is hoped that improvements in the economy and increases in the availability of training stipends will help reverse this contraction.

Texas has been able to provide stipends for those seeking university training in visual impairments since 2001. However the funds remained flat until September 2009. In the meantime, the tuition has increased by more than 100% since 2001. As a result, fewer stipends were available, causing some students to assume the cost of the tuition, seek funding elsewhere, or not receive training. Having access to a training program and funds for stipends has proven to be a significant factor in attracting students. It is possible that the limited funds have had an effect on administrators’ ability to identify a future VI professional and enrollment in training programs. Adding a trend line indicates that, statistically, there is no evidence of overall growth in the number of new positions statewide. In fact, the number of reported new positions is decreasing.

Starting in September 2009 the amount of funds available to provide stipends has increased. Yet, even with the increase, the university programs are reporting applications beyond their ability to supply financial support. Texas still faces a challenge training an adequate number of VI professionals.

Attrition Factors

Much has been written about the existing and increasing rate of educators leaving the field. VI professionals are rare and difficult to find. Therefore retention is of critical concern. Unlike other disciplines, even other high-need areas like math, when a VI professional is unavailable there is no one with the specific expertise needed to assess and meet the blind students’ unique educational needs. As a result, students’ progress and independence may suffer when there is sub-standard access to critical services from a highly qualified professional.

Several factors affect recruiting and attrition in the VI fields. Below are some of those factors.

  • Most VI professionals are mid-career professionals with an average of seven years of professional experience in other careers and are likely to have shorter careers in this second field.
  • Most educators and other likely candidates are unaware that the field exists. Blindness is a low incidence field with a very small population. Therefore, special recruitment challenges exist. People must be aware of the field and its possibilities before they can become a VI professional.
  • It is not uncommon for mid-career professionals to need two or three years before they decide to initiate VI training, and then another one or two years to be trained. Making such a change mid-career is a big decision.
  • In Texas there are two programs, more than most states. Most states don’t even have a single program. Distance education options are making it easier to access training for mid-career professionals who may not be able to leave their home and jobs for training.
  • Because VI professionals are so critical to student learning, a change of even one person, in any single district, can have dramatic effects on the annual yearly progress of students.
  • Changes in the number of those who function as dually certified may or may not reflect attrition of dually certified professionals. Rather, it may reflect a change in how the VI professional functions this year.
  • Economic factors drive attrition and hiring. The 2009 recession greatly affected the entire educational workforce. There are many reports of educators in general, and VI professionals in specific, delaying retirement for two to four years.

As a result, it is important to consider and analyze the existing and projected attrition rates when considering personnel needs for the future. Significant under-projecting 3-year attrition can affect longer-term planning for VI professionals and discounts the time needed for recruitment and training.

Chart 7: Attrition within the Past Year (1-Year attrition) 2005 - 2007

Chart 7: Attrition within the Past Year (1-Year attrition) 2005 - 2007
  20052006200720082009
VI teachers 23 23 33 26 21
O&M specialists 4 5 6 8 3
Dual certification 2 0 1 3 3
Table 8: Attrition within the Past Year (1-Year attrition)
  200720082009
VI Teacher 33 26 21
O&M Specialist 6 8 3
Dual Certified 1 3 3
Total 40 37 27

This year (2009) was the second year that attrition decreased. While this may be a hopeful sign, changes in the economy must be considered. According to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), Personnel Today (a human resource data organization) and other data sources report between 20% and 34% of expected retirees will be delaying retirement between three and six years. While it is always positive to retain VI professionals, one must wonder how this will impact the projected retirement. Will this delay exacerbate attrition in the near future? (www.gokcfew.org/newsletter/articles/slow_economy.htm, www.personneltoday.com/articles/2009/09/24/52306/recession-will-lead-to-delayed-retirement-workers-believe.html)

Projected 3-year attrition

In 2009, the VI consultants projected that 115 VI professionals will leave the field within the next 3 years. This means an estimated 12% of existing VI professionals will be retiring or moving to another profession or state. This data specifically addresses those who will leave the field, not move from school-employment to private contractual work.

At the same time, historical data indicates that students will increase by 3% per year over the next 3 years or by 768 more students by 2012. Using a standard caseload formula, an additional 80 FTEs with VI certification will be needed statewide to meet the growth. This is in addition to replacing the retiring VI teachers. If the current ratio of full-time to part-time individuals is applied, the number of individuals needed to result in 80 FTEs is likely to be closer to 98 certified individuals. As a result, we can project that Texas will need at least 219 individuals with VI certification in the next 3 years to replace those who are likely to leave and respond to anticipated growth.

Since 2001, when the first data was collected, the percentage of students who receive O&M services grows by approximately 1% per year. The 2009 census indicated that 32% receive O&M. It is projected in the next 3 years that 35%, or an additional 512 students, will need additional O&M. Applying a standard caseload formula this means an additional 53 FTEs will be necessary to meet the O&M needs. If the current ratio of full-time to part-time individuals is applied, the number of individuals needed to result in 53 FTEs is likely to be closer to 70. If this growth is combined with the 3 year projected attrition, it is likely Texas will need 89 more full- and part-time O&M specialists.

Chart 8: Projected 3-Year Attrition 2004 - 2009. Trend line upward for VI teachers 50 in 2004 to 90 in 2009.

Chart 8: Projected 3-Year Attrition 2004 - 2009
  200420052006200720082009
VI teachers 50 60 57 87 88 86
O&M specialists 4 10 8 13 11 11
Dual certification 7 11 14 13 15 18
Table 9: Projected 3-Year Attrition
  200720082009
VI Teacher 87 88 86
O&M Specialist 13 11 11
Dual Certified 13 15 18
Total 113 114 115

Projected vs. Actual Attrition

2007 saw a substantial increase in both actual attrition and projected 3-year attrition.

In 2007 the actual attrition increased dramatically, by 41%. The projected attrition also increased by 41%. Since that time, the estimates from the VI consultants have been more accurate at predicting attrition.

The actual loss in the most recent and complete 3-year cycle of data (2007 -2009) shows the projection was very close, off by 10 people or 9%. It is also the first year when the projections were greater than the actual attrition. Students with visual impairments may be benefiting from higher than average normal retention due to the current economic situation.

The table below compares projected versus actual attrition. A review of the projections by professional group shows where the significant (41%) increases in the 2007 projections occurred: the VI teachers and O&M specialists. It appears that the largest (proportional) variance between the projection and actual attrition was in the dually certified group (six of the 10). More VI teachers were also expected to leave the field than actually left. The O&M attrition was under-projected.

Chart 9: Projected vs Actual loss of VI Professionals Over Three Years 2000 – 2009
* 2007 is the last year for which a complete set of data is available.

Chart 9: Projected vs Actual loss of VI Professionals Over Three Years 2000 � 2009
  2000-022001-032002-042003-052004-062005-072006-082007-09
Projected 3 year attrition 66 72 84 84 61 81 79 113
Actual 3-year attrition 84 86 106 99 97 96 104 103

* 2007 is the last year for which a complete set of data is available.

Table 10: Projected vs Actual loss of VI Professionals
Over Three Years 2000 � 2009
  2004 - 20062005 – 20072006 – 20082007 - 2009
Projected VI teacher 50 60 57 87
Actual VI teacher 77 79 82 80
Projected O&M specialist 4 10 8 13
Actual O&M specialist 16 15 19 17
Projected dually certified 7 11 14 13
Actually dually certified 4 3 4 7

Anticipated Need

Interpreting and understanding need relies on several factors. Typically these include the number of posted positions, recommendations from knowledgeable professionals and recommended student/teacher ratios. Below are data from each of these areas.

Posted positions

The respondents at each ESC and at TSBVI were asked how many part- and full-time positions were posted in their regions or at TSBVI in September. This data was collected in October after all regular hiring for the academic year has been completed. These positions remained unfilled and active, or were developed after the start of the school year.

Chart 10: Posted Vacancies for VI Professionals 1996-2009. a trend line is shown for VI teachers sloping down over the time span from 25 in 1996 to 22 in 2009

Chart 10: Posted Vacancies for VI Professionals 1996-2009
  1996199719981999200020010203040506070809
VI Positions 23 22 29 24 32 23 17 21 23 16 25 27 27 16
O&M Positions 7 3 8 4 6 4 4 4 3 7 6 4 4 4
Table 11: Posted positions
2007 - 2009
  200720082009
VI teachers 27 27 16
O&M specialists 4 4 4
Dually certified 1 0 0
TOTAL 32 31 20

Through the use of a statistical trend line, it is apparent that the number of posted positions has not showed a significant change since 1996, even with the drop in 2009. Research completed in 1997, 2001, and 2005 (Dignan, TSBVI) indicated that special education administrators are willing to advocate for new or additional VI professionals based on their confidence they can fill the positions. In other words, if administrators are confident they can fill a position, they will post one.

The chart above shows the posted level of need since 1996. Statistically, the trend of having unfilled posted positions in September is decreasing, and decreased substantially in 2009. This may be due to various factors, such as those listed below.

  • Administrators are better able to recruit from within and enroll the candidate in a training program, thus avoiding the need to post a position.
  • Administrators are able to recruit candidates prior to the start of the school year.
  • Increases in the grant which funds VI training programs was substantially increased as of September, making it easier for candidates to start a program either in June or September.
  • Administrators are not confident they will be able to fill a position, so they are reluctant to advocate for or post a new position.
  • Due to economic factors administrators are reluctant to seek a VI professional.

Regardless of the reason, the numbers should not be considered without reflecting on the total number of VI professionals. In 1996 there were postings for 7 O&M specialists and 23 VI teachers. In 2009 there were 4 official O&M openings and 16 positions for VI teachers. In that same period, the total number of individuals working with students has risen from 487 to 894, an 87.2% increase in VI professionals. The percentage of unfilled positions is declining overall.

Furthermore, each year approximately 56 – 60 individuals complete training. Most have jobs waiting for them, either new positions or positions that have been vacated the year before. For all of these reasons, reviewing posted positions has not been a good indicator of true need for VI professionals.

Recommendations by knowledgeable professionals

VI consultants and TSBVI staff were asked how many VI teachers, O&M specialists, and dually certified personnel were needed in their area, in addition to those already in training. Regional VI consultants are considered to be experts in the needs of their region. The results are indicated in the table below.

Table 12: Short-term Need: 12 – 24 months
 

2007

2008

2009

VI teachers 68 76 56
O&M specialists 23 26 28
Dually certified 18 19 11
Total Need 109 121 95
Table 13: Longer-term Need: 24-36 months
 

2007

2008

2009

VI teachers 133 116 116
O&M specialists 40 42 46
Dually certified 26 26 26
Total Need 199 184 186

When considering the needs, VI consultants are advised to reflect on real attrition and anticipated attrition (those who are expected to permanently leave the field).

The reduction in shorter term need is not surprising especially since many VI professionals (and other educators) report that they are putting off retirement in hopes of an improving economy. The longer-term need has remained consistent for the past two years.

It is helpful to review the longer-term need (24-36 month) in conjunction with the 3-year actual and the projected attrition. While the numbers do vary from year to year in each domain, adding a statistical trend line can be helpful in evaluating the changes over time.

Below are tables showing attrition within the past year, projected attrition, and longer-term (36 months) need. The O&M and dually certified data remains essentially the same, showing little significant change from year to year. However the VI teacher data shows changes. Notice the slope of the trend lines. The projected attrition has the steepest statistical slope. Assuming the historical under projection of 30% that slope would be even steeper. This indicates a growing need for VI professionals.

Table 14: Projected Need for VI Professionals
  20052006200720082009
12 - 24 month projection 132 124 109 121 95
24-36 month projection 187 172 199 182 188

The lack of change in O&M specialist data is noteworthy. At this point, there are no reliable statistical projections on the percentage of students with visual impairments who likely need O&M services. Nor do all students with visual impairments even receive O&M evaluations. In fact, according to the data gathered from the 2009 Annual Registration of Students with Visual Impairments, only 51% of visually impaired students were evaluated for O&M skills within the previous 3 years. Therefore, it is difficult to evaluate the lack of growth in reported need for O&M specialists (including dually certified professionals) based on data.

However, we do know the number of students who receive O&M and how that has changed since the data has been collected (2001). The first year 25% of students with visual impairments were receiving O&M services. In 2009, 32.4% are getting services. If statistical forecasts are accurate, it is projected that 34% will be receiving services by 2010. Each student will need a fully qualified O&M specialist.

Recommendations using a caseload formula

The American Foundation for the Blind’s Program Planning and Evaluation for Blind and Visually Impaired Students: National guidelines for educational excellence (1989), and the National Plan for Training Personnel to Serve Children with Blindness and Low Vision (2000) recommends that caseloads for VI teachers and O&M specialists be restricted to 8 – 12 students per full-time equivalent (FTE) position.

VI teachers

In January 2009 there were 8,197 students with visual impairment in Texas identified on the Annual Registration of Students with Visual Impairments. Based on that figure, and in light of the recommended 8 –12 students per teacher ratio, Texas has a need for between 683 and 1,025 full-time equivalent direct service VI teachers. Currently there are 596.5 full-time equivalent (FTE) VI teachers. Therefore using this measure, Texas is lacking between 87 and 428 (FTE) VI teachers. (The mean of this range is 257 FTEs.)

This does not accommodate for the number of individuals needed. Approximately 30% of the VI teacher workforce is employed as a VI teacher on a part-time basis. (Of the 209 part-time VI teachers, 65 are dually certified; the remaining either contract with the district or are employed in some other capacity.) The number of individuals needed to fill 257 FTE positions would be much higher. Based on current ratios, the number of individuals needed is closer to 315 full- and part-time VI teachers.

O&M specialists

Determining the need based on a comparison of the data for orientation and mobility services is more complicated. According to the American Foundation for the Blind, 8 - 12 students is the recommended caseload for O&M specialists. However, not all students need O&M services each year.

According to the Annual Registration of Students with Visual Impairments, 2,655 students were receiving O&M services in January of 2009. If we assume that all students who would benefit from O&M currently receive it, and base the calculations on the suggested 8 –12 students per teacher ratio, Texas has a need for between 221 and 332 full-time equivalent (FTE) O&M specialists. With 171 full-time equivalent (FTE) O&M specialists, Texas is lacking between 50 and 161 (FTE) O&M specialists. (The mean of this range is 106 FTEs.) However it must be noted that, given the shortage cited above and that only 51% have even been evaluated by an O&M specialists, it is likely that not all students who could benefit from O&M are receiving instruction.

Also, the impact of part-time O&M specialists is more significant than for VI teachers. Approximately 48% of the O&M specialists in Texas provide services on a part-time basis. These individuals may be dually certified or private contractors working with districts and other agencies or organizations. Therefore, even the average estimated need for 106 O&M specialists should be considered very conservative. The number of individuals needed to fill 106 FTE positions would be much higher; at least 157 O&M specialists. Based on current ratios, the number of individuals needed is closer to 139 full- and part-time O&M specialists. Currently, Texas is able to prepare approximately 20 O&M specialists a year. Clearly, not only is the need great, but the capacity to meet the need is severely limited.

Table 15: VI professionals needed based on caseload formula (Mean of range)
 

2007

2008

2009

VI teachers 280 326 257
O&M specialists 88 95 106

Summary

This report reviewed characteristics of and indicators of need for VI professionals. In September 2009, Texas had 949 individuals providing vision-related services, either directly to students or in a leadership and/or technical assistance capacity. After adjusting for dually certified professionals (65) there are 756 individuals providing direct service either on a full- or part-time basis. The total includes the following full- or part-time individuals:

  • 701 VI teachers (596.5 FTEs)
  • 225 O&M specialists, (171 FTEs)
  • 65 dually certified professionals

In addition, there are:

  • 55 leadership/technical assistance specialists (53.7 FTEs)

This is an increase from the 2008 report, including an increase of 138 direct service providers. The area of biggest increase was in VI teachers. There were more full- and part-time VI teachers. The number of O&M specialists decreased from 237 to 225. However, the number of full-time O&M specialists increased; from 98 to 117. The overall effect of this increase was an increase in FTEs for O&M (from 167.5 in 2008 to 171 in 2009).

It is hard to assess the changes in a single year. Some ESCs are able to respond to the survey based on their direct knowledge of the region. Some regions (at least 3) distribute the survey to individual districts and must then summarize the results. At least one of those regions showed a marked difference from the previous year. Another region changed their service delivery model; decentralizing it from the ESC to the districts. It is possible the increase reflects a combination of data collection changes and actual increases.

In September 2009 there were 23 VI teachers, 11 O&M specialists, and one dually certified professionals who are African-American. The Hispanic VI professionals included 72 VI teachers, 10 O&M specialists and seven dually certified professionals. Eighty-four VI teachers, 12 O&M specialists and nine dually certified professionals speak Spanish. There are now eight Asian VI teachers and one dually certified specialist.

The change in cultural diversity was an overall improvement.

An examination of the attrition, projected attrition and new positions being created indicates challenges lie ahead. The number of new positions is not keeping pace with student growth. The attrition rate decreased this year from 37 to 27 VI professionals. This good news is tempered by realities of the current economic situation and a belief that retirements were merely delayed. The projected 3-year attrition rate was estimated at 115, or 12% of the total population of VI professionals. In the past 3 years, the projected attrition has been in the 12%-14% range.

This report included the number of “posted” positions in September. However, this is not considered a reliable or accurate indicator of need. The numbers are too low to be reliable and have proven to be a poor predictor of need. These data are valuable as a crude indicator that a need exists even after the start of the school year.

Relying solely on use of a formula also poses problems. Formulas address only full-time equivalent positions. In Texas, use of part-time or dually certified personnel is a valuable option for serving children with visual impairments. Sole reliance on a method that only measures FTEs does not address the need for part-time or dually certified VI professionals.

This report considers the recommendations of the VI specialists at the regional service centers to be the best indicators of real need in Texas. These professionals have extensive knowledge of their districts and region. All three types of indicators of need were reviewed in this document: posted vacancies, recommendations by regional consultants, and caseload formulas. All provided very different data. While each source reveals a different set of numbers, what is clear is that regardless of the method used, Texas has a clear and ongoing need for VI professionals.

Appendix

Methodology

The survey asked about the number of people functioning as VI professionals. These individuals may be VI teachers, O&M specialists or both. Those functioning in both roles are referred to as being dually certified. The VI professionals provide instruction to students in a direct or consultative capacity and/or provide leadership, or technical assistance from regional educational service centers (ESCs) or Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI). Those in leadership or technical assistance roles may be full- or part-time capacity.

Texas employs both full- and part-time VI professionals. Full-time professionals are those who work .6 FTE or more. Part-time professionals are those who work .5 FTE or less. This method has been used by TEA and is considered to be an adequate estimate of the number of full-time equivalent VI professionals. Part-time VI professionals are a significant proportion of the Texas workforce (29.8% of the VI teachers and 42% of the O&M specialists).

When relevant, information about full-time equivalent (FTE) positions is also presented. The number of full-time equivalent (FTE) staff was determined by multiplying the number of people employed in part-time positions by .5 and adding the result to the number of people employed as full-time VI professionals (Part-time X .5 + Full-time = FTE).

The descriptive and need data reflect statewide totals, which is a combination of VI teachers and O&M professionals. Data on each profession is also included separately. When appropriate, data on dually certified VI professionals is also presented.

People who provide O&M and VI services (dually certified) are counted as part-time VI and part-time O&M. Although they may be full-time employees of a district or cooperative, dually certified professionals are considered part-time VI teachers and part-time O&M specialists. As a result dually certified individuals appear on both the VI and O&M tables as part-time professionals. This results in a variance between the data listed in the Statewide Totals table and the combined totals of the Direct Service Provider tables. Simply adding together the discipline-specific totals would result in double counting some individuals. Statewide totals are adjusted for dually certified professionals.

512 206-9156 kcd @ tsbvi.edu

TSBVI is developing a library of fact sheets for administrators, parents and others.

We need your help!

Successful factsheets are a blend of information and “next steps” that speaks to the needs and interests of the audience. Factsheets can be an important part of any educational or advocacy endeavor.

We want to make sure we understand the needs of the readers and that our message is clear. Our goal is to develop the best possible fact sheet.

The final factsheets will be available on the TSBVI website for all to use. We hope that others will both use and expand on the options, especially in the development of parent version of various factsheets.

There are multiple drafts of each individual fachsheet. We want to know if we are moving in the right direction and which, if any, we should publish. It is possible that we could make them all available, but only if they are considered unique, effective and relevant.

PLEASE take just a moment to evaluate any of our fact sheets. It won’t take long as each is a single page. We value your feedback as we move to the next step: finalizing layout and graphics. Once the content is finalized the factsheets will go to a graphic designer and will be professionally published.

Introduction

Our first set of fact sheets address the topics listed below. The intended audience is listed in parenthesis. We have multiple options for each fact sheet.
  • Something Different Every Day: A recruiting factsheet (potential VI professionals)
  • Change and Teach: A recruiting factsheet (potential VI professionals
  • Grow Your Own VI Teacher: A recruiting factsheet (administrators)
  • Benefits of Hiring a Braillist (administrators)
  • Distinguishing Between VI Teachers and O&M specialists (administrators and general educators)
  • Benefits of an Appropriate Caseload size (administrators)
  • Deafblind Interveners (administrators, with a nod to parents)

There are 2-3 drafts of each factsheet. You can evaluate just one, or all of a set. Each one is only a single page, so it shouldn’t take long. The evaluation survey is provided.

Please come back and read another fact sheet soon!

Recruitment

  1. Something Different Recruitment Factsheet (SD1) Survey
  2. Something Different Recruitment Factsheet (SD2) Survey

  3. Change and Teach Beyond the Classroom (CT1) Survey
  4. Change and Teach Beyond the Classroom (CT2) Survey

  5. Grow Your Own VI Teacher (GR1) Survey
  6. Grow Your Own VI Teacher (GR2) Survey

Benefits of Hiring a Braillist

  1. Braille Paraprofessionals (BP1) Survey
  2. Braille Paraprofessionals (BP2) Survey
  3. Braille Paraprofessionals (BP3) Survey

Distinguishing TVI and O&M

  1. TVIs and O&Ms: Distinguishing the Experts (TO1) Survey
  2. TVIs and O&Ms: Distinguishing the Experts (TO2) Survey

Caseloads

  1. Benefits of Appropriate Caseloads (CL1) Survey
  2. Benefits of Appropriate Caseloads (CL2) Survey

Deafblind Interveners

  1. Deafblind Interveners (DB1) Survey
  2. Deafblind Interveners (DB2) Survey

In Attendance

Name Representing
Beth Freeborn Parent
Bill Daugherty TSBVI
Brent Pitt TEA
Chrissy Cowan Mentor coordinator
Cyral Miller TSBVI
Donna Sanders District administrator
Edwina Wilks District  - dually certified
Emily Leeper TAER – O&M Division
Frankie Swift Universities - SFASU
Gwynne Reeves ESC  - Dually certified
Jayme Wratchford ESC  - VI certified
Jill Brown District  - VI certified
Julie Prause District  - VI certified
KC Dignan Coordinator
Kate Hurst TSBVI
Kellee Costello District  - dually certified
Marjie Wood District O&M specialist
Mike Lyssy Parent
Nora Griffin-Shirley Universities – TTU
Olga Uriegas VI Network
Olivia Chavez American Council of the Blind
Renae Shepler District – VI certified
Rona Pogrund Universities – TTU
Suzy Scannell ESC  - VI certified
Virginia Haas District administrator
Tricia Lee ESC  - VI certified

Unable to Attend

Name Representing
Barry Stafford Universities - SFASU
Carol Hoover District  administrator
Debbie Louder ESC  - VI certified
Dixie Mercer Universities - SFASU
Donna Glover District O&M specialist
Linda Johnson DARS/DBS
Mary Dell Donelson District administrator
Melinda Loyd District  - VI certified
Michael Munro Universities - SFASU
Pat Boyd District administrator
Twinkle Morgan ESC  - VI certified

Topics

Update from November 2009 meeting and related topics

November meeting

During the November meeting a list of action items was developed.  The current status of these items were reviewed.  
The following items have been completed:

  • Sharing the PowerPoint presentation with ESCs and then to special education administrators.
  • Meeting with the director of the Texas Association of School Personnel Administrators (TASPA)
  • Developing a fact sheet about ‘growing your own’ VI professional
  • Acknowledging new VI professionals and those who have recruited VI professionals
  • Including interview questions for candidates seeking VI positions in the 2nd edition of the Administrator’s Toolbox.

The following items have not been completed:

  • Develop a series of single page fact sheets to be distributed by ESCs to special education administrators
    • This was started during the current PPAG meeting and will continue
    • In addition to fact sheets for special education administrators, documents for candidates, parents and HR specialists will also be developed.
  • Submit proposal to TASPA for their conference
    • Too late for submission, will reconsider for next fall.
  • Working with SBEC to continue to examine the rigor of the certification exams
    • On-going issue to continue to be investigated by universities and TSBVI
    • Rona Pogrund met with SBEC about data being reported by SBEC which continues to be significantly undercount actual university completion rates.
  • Provide data to inform legislative actions
    • No requests have been received.
  • Develop recommendations for incentive pay for those who become TVIs
    • Deferred for economic reasons.
  • Approach TAER about supporting recruitment efforts
    • Deferred to the next TAER Board meeting in the fall of 2010

Job fairs

This year we participated in 16 job fairs around Texas.  Most of them had volunteers from ESCs and districts.  All contacted report that this was a very different year.  There were many more people who presented themselves as interested in VI and/or had some knowledge of the area and many more who (likely due to economic reasons) were interested in making a change and exploring other options.

Summary of Need

Among the most striking findings in this year’s annual review of VI professionals in Texas were the following:

  • The number of VI professionals overall was up 12.7% since the previous year (2008)
  • Attrition within the past year decreased.  This is in line with data reported from other organizations including AARP and other organizations that specialize in human service professions.
  • The cultural diversity statewide increased in every category, but is not keeping pace with the diversity of the students in schools.
  • Excluding one region which has made a major service delivery change, the number of new positions hit a historic low.

Enabling advocacy and developing fact sheets

KC presented information about the nature of advocacy and how to develop an advocacy-oriented message.  Additionally, guidelines for taking the information and applying it to the development of fact sheets was shared.  An outline of that information is attached.

The PPAG was presented with seven domains and four possible audiences for the fact sheets.  Information about each domain and each audience group was developed by the group.  The group then self-divided into areas of interest and started developing six fact sheets.  The topics of the fact sheets included the topics listed below.  The intended audience is listed in brackets “[  ]”.

  • Tips for becoming a VI professional (2 different ones) [for candidates]
  • Value of a braille transcriber [for special education administrators]
  • Value of, and tips for completing a caseload analysis (2 companion sheets from the same group) [for special education administrators]
  • Differentiating TVIs and O&M specialists [for special education administrators]
  • Differentiating deafblind interveners from other paraprofessionals [for special education administrators]

Each of these initial fact sheets will be developed further by TSBVI staff and PPAG members.  Upon completion they will be sent to a sample of the target audiences for review and revision.

Among the common themes that were generated during the presentation and feedback period was expanding the intended audience.  It was commonly held that all of the fact sheets intended for administrators should also have a companion sheet developed for parent (with equivalent information but from a parent’s perspective).  Additionally, it was thought that the sheet differentiating TVIs and O&M specialists should be made available to, and appropriate for general and special education classroom teachers.

Future fact sheets intended for parents should be available in English and Spanish.  Fact sheets will be developed to be distributed in electronic and hard-copy versions.

Dissemination

The following ideas were generated for dissemination and will be considered in the final dissemination plan.   These are listed in random order.

  • Add all fact sheets that have been developed to the 2nd edition of the Administrator’s Toolbox
  • Submit to AERBVI for inclusion on their website and to various AER-hosted listserves
  • Send to TASPA and other administrative professionals organizations such as TCASE and TASA.
  • Share with parent organizations
  • Get into teacher lounges
  • Roll out over time; don’t wait for all to be done, or swamp the audiences
  • Get an advertising agency or university graduate student in design to advise or help design
  • Promote these materials via TETN

Emerging issues

The PPAG members were asked to identify emerging issues of relevance to this group.  They were also asked to relate why it is of importance and/or concern.  Each of the topics was explored briefly by the PPAG.

  • More dual certified personnel
    • The concerns are that the model may not serve students well; it may have an effect on retention, administrators may be unclear about unique supervisory issues, it may increase the difficulty of single certified VI professionals to find jobs.
  • O&M certification source
    • Traditionally states (and other hiring bodies) have only accepted O&M certification from ACVREP.  However there is a new certifying organization.  There is a national movement to broaden the requirements for certification so either one could be accepted.
  • ACVREP new certification rules
    • The new certification requirement for O&M specialists, rehab therapists and clinical low vision specialists does not require that the candidate have completed an AER-approved program.  It still requires that the applicant have completed a university program and hold a bachelor’s diploma.  This is an issue for Canadian programs that do not grant bachelor degrees.
  • Availability of jobs for those who have completed VI programs in Texas
    • Many students are not getting to work in VI due to the economy and education cutbacks.  It is expected that this may continue for 2-3 years
  • Braille examinations for new VI teachers
    • NFB is encouraging states to adopt the national braille transcribers’ examination as the standard exam for those who have completed TVI training.  The concern is that this is far beyond the scope and competencies needed for TVIs.
  • Educational requirements for VI paraprofessionals
    • The question was asked whether we need VI-specific training for VI paraprofessionals.  Additional questions were asked about whether the courses offered by Hadley would meet the needs.  Olivia Chavez will make inquiries.
  • TEA is looking into requirements for electronic textbooks and whether the accessibility guidelines are being followed.
  • TTU needs a person to supervise interns in the TVI program.  This person (likely who is retired) will be responsible for making 1 visit to each intern during the semester.  The ESC members said they would extend the word.
  • Getting enough continuing education units necessary for O&M evaluation
    • O&M specialists are reporting that there are problems getting sufficient CEUs for re-certification.  Many are not give release time and/or contracting staff must take time off from working with clients.  O&M specialists may be lost due to difficulty getting re-certified.

Program updates

SFA

  • SFA has had 42 VI students. 15 students in Beaumont have completed their program, 27 students statewide.  They also have 14 O&M students.
  • 29 new TVI have started this summer; plus 14 new O&M students (6 of which are funded by the rehabilitation grant)
  • Debbie (Nelson) Cady has been hired to teach at SFA.
  • Bob Bryant is officially retiring.  SFA is looking for someone to teach O&M.  It is a tenure- track position.  A master’s degree is required, but not a Ph.D.

Texas Tech

  • The number of students attending TTU has increased by 150% since Rona started at TTU.
  • There are 129 TVI and O&M students in the program.  40% of them are not on a grant.
  • Dr. Amy Parker has been hired this year.
  • The Sowell Center is changing its name to “The Sowell Center on Sensory Impairments” and now has Facebook and Twitter pages.
  • Nora has passed her AER review exam.
  • A new national program to train doctoral students in sensory impairments (not just VI) has started.  TTU was not able to get any students approved in this first phase of the program.
  • The Texas Developmental Disabilities Council has approved a grant for TTU called “Project Ideal”.  This project focuses on inclusive strategies for university faculty.   They are developing internet modules which include videos and are looking for excellent teachers (VI and classroom) to be included in the training.  The website for the project is: www.projectideal.org.
  • The annual Sowell Center lectures will be November 13.  The topic will be completing FVEs and LMAs for students with visual and significant multiple disabilities.

TSBVI

  • Three mentor centers and mentor training were successfully completed this year.
  • Robbie Blaha and Chrissy have been piloting a new deafblind mentor program.  Six individuals have participated.  Amy Parker (from TTU) helped with training in early May.  Robbie Blaha will be a statewide deafblind mentor consultant.
  • Next year, due to budget cuts, TSBVI will not be able to assign mentors to those who are in their first year of coursework and do not have a caseload.  Those who do not have a caseload will get a mentor the next year.  Those who do have a caseload will continue to be the priority for assigning mentors.  All are eligible for the mentor centers, regardless of they have a caseload or not.

AER

  • The AERBVI conference will be in July in Little Rock Arkansas.  It will have the O&M conference-within-a-conference and should be excellent.
  • In the past 2 years AER has worked hard to have a balanced budget.  This has helped AER to survive the recent 7% reduction in membership.

TAER

  • TAER sponsored a great conference in San Antonio in April.
  • The TAER website has been revised.
  • The next TAER conference will be in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.  However, no dates or specific locations have been determined.

ACB

  • ACB has “revived” the Braille Revival League.  They are establishing local “cells” of 6 people and will sponsor a “braille bowl” at TSBVI in spring 2011.

Other statewide VI-related events

  • The annual SWOMA conference will be in Corpus Christi in January.
  • ESC 10 and TSBVI are sponsoring a statewide braille literacy conference in Garland (at the convention center) on November 3-4, 2010.

Regional events and news

Below is information shared by ESC consultants.  Unless otherwise stated, please contact the ESC or the VI consultant at the ESC for more information.

  • ESC 13 will be having a workshop on chemistry for TVIs and science teachers.  The workshop will be led by Cary Supalo.  It will be on October 13.  Mr. Supalo is a doctoral student in chemistry who is also blind and active in issues related to making science accessible for those with visual impairments.
  • ESC 4 is sponsoring well-known deafblind expert Barbara Miles on October 3 and 4 in the Houston area.
  • ESC 4 is sponsoring Phil Schweigert.  Dr. Schweigert is an expert in communications for student with severe multiple disabilities, including those who are deafblind.
  • ECS 6 is sponsoring well-known deafblind expert Barbara Miles on January 10 - 11 in the Huntsville area.

Next meeting

The 2010-11 meetings will be held on the second Tuesday in November and May.  That would be:

  • November 9, 2010
  • May 9, 2011
  1. High stakes communications
    1. Critical communication
    2. Action oriented
    3. Reader-centric
  2. Guidelines for advocacy
    1. Ask for what you want!
    2. Make your requests specific
    3. Define & describe your vision of success
  3. What do you want?
    1. These are your goals…desired outcomes.
    2. What is it you want to be done once your message has been heard?
    3. Which are long-term goals and which are short-term?
  4. Who can give it to you?
    1. Who is in the best position to hear and act effectively on your message?
    2. Who has the authority to “deliver the goods?”
    3. Who has the capacity to influence those with formal authority?
  5. What do they need to hear?
    1. A brief, straightforward statement based on an analysis of what will persuade a particular audience.
    2. Understanding and using shared values is critical to the process
  6. Avoid vague terms like:

    Appreciate
    Attitude
    Familiar with
    Feelings for
    Capable of
    Conscious of

    Confidence in
    Experience
    Realize
    Recognize
    Hear
    Interest in

    Knowledge of
    Listen to
    Adjust to
    Responsive to
    Think
    Understand

  7. Who needs to say it?
    1. The same message has a very different impact depending on who communicates it.
    2. Who are the most credible messengers for different audiences?
      1. In some cases, these messengers are “experts” whose credibility is largely technical.
      2. In other cases, we need to engage the “authentic voices,” those who can speak from personal experience
  8. What do you have?
    1. Take stock of the resources that are already there to be built on
    2. You don’t start from scratch; you start by building on what you’ve got.
  9. What do you need to develop?
    1. What resources you need that aren’t available yet
    2. Consider outreach, media and research, which are crucial to any effort
  10. How do you begin?
    1. First steps – start at the beginning!
    2. What are some things that can be done right away to get the effort moving forward?
    3. What needs to be done after that?
  11. Now you know…
    1. Where you are
    2. Where you want to go, and
    3. How you can get there
  12. A Good Message Is
    1. Simple
    2. To the point
    3. Easy to remember
    4. Repeated frequently
    5. Always oriented to your audience
  13. About Your Audience….
    1. What is their purpose?
    2. How knowledgeable are they about the issue?
    3. What “forces” must they respond to?
    4. How many people are in the audience?
  14. Communication model
    1. Goal is to express a stated relationship between the problem, its impact and the desired solution or action
    2. This message must be built on shared values
    3. Shared Values are the common beliefs between the audience and the “developer”
    4. Shared values are your connection with your audience
  15. Message guidelines
    1. Rule of 3
      1. Three sentences
      2. Three messages
      3. Three times
    2. Build towards action
    3. Focus on audience… Always.
  16. Assess language for
    1. Match
    2. Acronyms
    3. Sentences
    4. Is the message free of jargon, acronyms?
    5. Is the message highly readable and inspires to action?
  17. Fact sheets are one type of advocacy tool
    1. Distinguish your issue from other issues
    2. Educate the audience on the issue
    3. Advocate for action
  18. Organizing a Fact Sheet
    1. Beginning
      1. Sets the course
      2. Identifies key features or values
      3. Gets the audience in the race
    2. Middle
      1. Adds details
      2. Adds examples & interesting information
    3. End
      1. Ties things together
      2. Often gives an idea of what can be learned from the experience
      3. Theme or lesson
        1. Implied
        2. Explicit
        3. Encourage thinking
  19. Format considerations
    1. “White” space is just as important as “black space”
    2. Images, graphics, or logos are powerful
    3. Consider font and color
      1. Minimum of 12 pts
      2. Clear font
    4. Use bullets
  20. Final reflections
    1. Be clear about actions
    2. Use bold,  textboxes,  graphics to add emphasis
    3. Must be self-contained
      1. Electronic links for more info
    4. Ultimately, this will be 1 page!
    5. If you can leave it out and not change the message, delete it.
  21. Onward to the beginning!
    1. Identify goal in broad, crisp terms
    2. Review audience details to modify, clarify, add information
  22. Run the course
    1. Generate a list of shared values
    2. Frame your message
    3. Choose a few facts or a story to make a point
  23. On to the finish
    1. Blend of “brainstorming” and focus on goal
    2. Resist the “she can just cut out what she doesn’t need”.  It may get lost!
    3. Review for:
      1. Language
      2. Spacing
      3. Image suggestions
  24. What to expect
    1. Select a spokesperson
    2. We will be working for about an hour, have a short conversation and lunch, then another hour.
    3. IF possible, please drop your document(s) to a flash drive and put on my computer
    4. Group review of fact sheets
  25. Onward...
    1. Dissemination
      1. Strategies
      2. Ideas?
      3. Formats
    2. Timing
    3. Evaluation ideas?

Qualifications:

  1. Education/certification:
    1. High school diploma or GED
    2. Valid Texas educational paraprofessional certificate desired, but not required.
  2. Special knowledge/skills:
    1. Ability to work well with children with disabilities, especially children with visual impairments
    2. Ability to follow verbal and written instructions
    3. Knowledge of general office equipment.
  3. Experience:
    1. Have ____ [insert number] of years of experience working with children and/or have college credit with some emphasis on child growth and development or related areas

Major Responsibilities and Duties:

  1. Assist the VI and campus staff with modifications and supplemental services necessary for educational needs of students with visual impairment
  2. Provide technological assistance and/or training to teaching staff or other appropriate personnel
  3. Prepare materials and equipment to be transferred to appropriate campuses as needed and according to VI Program procedures
  4. Make photocopies as needed and perform other clerical tasks for VI staff, as requested
  5. Assist students, teachers and other staff members as appropriate and according to state and district guidelines
  6. Attend appropriate, approved staff development training and VI staff meetings
  7. Assist in the ordering, dissemination, and return of braille, large type, and audio materials and equipment
  8. Maintain VI program equipment and make arrangements for necessary repairs, following appropriate VI and district procedures
  9. Maintain appropriate communication with the VI program supervisor and staff, other district personnel, and agencies
  10. Maintain a current work schedule, providing copies to the VI supervisor, VI staff, and campus secretary.

Evaluation:

  1. Accurate and timely work to be evaluated by VI professionals and special education administration in accordance with provision of school board policy

TITLE: Special Education Paraprofessional

LENGTH OF ASSIGNMENT: 10 Months

REPORTS TO: Principal, Director of Special Populations, and Teacher(s) Assigned


Primary Purpose:

Assist the VI professional in providing for the physical and instructional needs of students with visual impairments in education settings.

Qualifications:

  1. Minimum education/certification:
    1. High school diploma or GED.
  2. Special knowledge/skills:
    1. Use of literary and Nemeth braille for reading, writing, and translation
    2. Vocal quality coupled with the articulation skills and ability to correctly read tests, worksheets, books, and other assignments which must be put on tape for students' use
    3. Typing and keyboarding skills (50 wpm)
    4. Effective communication and interpersonal skills
    5. Office skills:
      1. take, understand, and relay phone messages to teachers
      2. type memos
      3. produce VI office forms
      4. know teachers' schedules and how to contact them.
  3. Some experience with children who have impairments is preferred.

Major Responsibilities and Duties:

  1. Uphold and enforce school rules, administrative regulations, and state and local board policy
  2. Assist students with physical disabilities according to their individualized needs, including transferring to and from wheelchairs, lifting, or positioning
  3. Assist students with physical needs, including personal care such as feeding, bathroom needs, and personal hygiene
  4. Assist in managing the behavior of students and crisis intervention, including restraining disruptive or dangerous physical behavior as needed
  5. Assume responsibility for learning and adapting to each student's special physical, communicative, and emotional needs
  6. Work with individual students or small groups in accordance with plans developed by the VI staff
  7. Keep the instructional staff (VI, O&M, and others) informed of any special needs or problems of individual students
  8. Assist the teacher in preparing instructional materials and classroom displays
  9. Assist in inventory, care, and maintenance of equipment
  10. Assist the teacher in keeping administrative records and preparing required reports
  11. Provide orientation and assistance to substitute teachers
  12. Assist in the maintenance of confidentiality of student records
  13. Participate in staff development training, faculty meetings, and special events, as needed.
  14. Demonstrate interest and initiative in professional improvement
  15. Create an environment conducive to learning and appropriate to the physical, social, and emotional development of the students
  16. Use acceptable communication skills to present information accurately and clearly

Equipment Used:

  1. Typewriter
  2. Computer keyboard
  3. Printer
  4. Braille print computer
  5. Tactual and braille production equipment.

Working Conditions:

  1. Cognitive Demands:
    1. Reading
    2. Effective oral and written communication skills
    3. Emotional control under stress.
  2. Physical Demands/Environmental
    1. Frequent standing, stooping, bending, kneeling, pushing, and pulling
    2. Regular heavy lifting
    3. Exposure to communicable diseases.

***Paraprofessional are generally shielded from personal liability for acts occurring within the scope of his/her employment under Texas Education Code 22.051. Protection is also available under the state common law doctrine of official immunity.


The foregoing statements describe the general purpose and responsibilities assigned to this job and are not an exhaustive list of all responsibilities, duties, and skills that may be required.

Approved By ________________________________ Date ______________

Reviewed By ________________________________ Date ______________

JOB TITLE: Special Education Paraprofessional/Materials Preparation Specialist

REPORTS TO: VI Professional and Special Education Administrator

DEPT./SCHOOL: Assigned School DATE REVISED:

  1. Primary Purpose: Enhance the effectiveness of learning opportunities for students with visual impairments
  2. Qualifications:
    1. Minimum Education/Certification:
      1. High school diploma or GED.
    2. Special Knowledge/Skills:
      1. Use of literary and Nemeth braille for reading, writing, and translation purposes meeting the standards as prescribed by the National Library Service
      2. Typing and keyboarding skills
      3. Effective communication and interpersonal skills.
    3. Office skills:
      1. Take, understand, and relay phone messages to teachers
      2. Type memos
      3. Perform general office duties such as filing, organizing and maintain records
      4. Experience with children with disabilities is strongly preferred.
  3. Major Responsibilities and Duties:
    1. Work with and under the immediate direction of VI professionals
    2. Use braille translation software
    3. Use word processing programs on Apple, Macintosh, or PC computers
    4. Order, return, and distribute large print and braille books under teachers' supervision.
    5. Assist the VI and campus staff with modifications and supplemental services necessary for the education of students with visual impairments
    6. Participate in training on any new VI technology (e.g. software, computers, adaptive assisted devices)
    7. Assist the teacher(s) with:
      1. Planning, production, and organization of instructional material
      2. Individual and/or group instruction activities
      3. Other classroom activities
      4. Promote and maintain educational team goals.
    8. Cooperate with other staff members in the movement of students from one activity to another under the direction of VI professionals
    9. Participate in appropriate inservice education
    10. Accept personal responsibility for the care of school facilities, supplies and equipment
    11. Work toward developing and maintaining, in oneself and in the students, proper attitudes, good work habits, and respect for the rights and properties of others
    12. Operate in accordance with district and campus regulations
    13. Assist with and participate in all school activities (district and/or individual school) cooperatively with teacher(s) to whom assigned.
  4. Evaluation:
    1. Accurate and timely work to be evaluated by VI professionals and special education administration in accordance with school board policy.
  5. Equipment Used:
    1. Typewriter
    2. Computer keyboard
    3. Printer
    4. Braille print computer
    5. Tactual and braille production equipment.
  6. Working Conditions: (as per district procedure)

The foregoing statements describe the general purpose and responsibilities assigned to this job and are not an exhaustive list of all responsibilities and duties that may be assigned or skills that may be required.

Approved by __________________________________ Date ________

Reviewed by __________________________________ Date ________

Primary Purpose:

The job duties of the paraprofessional are to be accomplished under the direct supervision of and to the specifications of the appropriate VI professional staff.

Qualifications:

  1. Minimum Education/Certification:
    1. High school diploma or GED.
  2. Special Knowledge/Skills:
    1. Use of literary and Nemeth braille for reading, writing, and translation purposes meeting the standards as prescribed by the National Library Service
    2. Typing and keyboarding skills
    3. Effective communication and interpersonal skills.
  3. Office skills:
    1. Take, understand, and relay phone messages to teachers
    2. Type memos
    3. Perform general office duties such as filing, organizing, and maintain records
  4. Experience with children with disabilities is strongly preferred.

General Office Duties

  1. Answer phones
  2. Type reports, letters
  3. Contact schools to relay messages to VI professionals
  4. Keep daily schedules of vision teachers and O& M specialists
  5. Inventory and distribute materials and equipment
  6. File
  7. Update student directory
  8. Maintain current forms
  9. Arrange for repairs of equipment
  10. Distribute mail
  11. Make photocopies
  12. Secure and maintain office supplies

Material Preparation:

  1. Braille, record, or enlarge textbooks, workbooks, worksheets, and diagnostic tests that are not available through state agencies

Other Duties:

  1. Work with students under the direction of a VI professional to maximize students' independence
  2. Assist the VI and campus staff with modifications and supplemental services necessary for the education of students with visual impairments
  3. Make home and school visits, with VI professional(s) as necessary to achieve IEP objectives
  4. Deliver materials and equipment
  5. Acquire and implement any necessary updates in computer technology as it applies to braille and large print production.

Evaluation:

Accurate and timely work to be evaluated by VI professionals and special education administration in accordance with school board policy.

Qualifications:

  1. High school diploma
  2. Knowledge of DOS, Windows and/or computer operating system
  3. Excellent keyboarding skills
  4. Ability to learn and demonstrate understanding of braille

Reports to:

VI teacher

Job Goal:

Assist the teacher of students with visual impairments in the provision of brailled and other adapted materials.

Performance Responsibilities:

  1. Prepare adapted materials in a timely fashion as needed by students and VI teacher
  2. Participate in professional development opportunities to advance braille skills beyond basic levels. This may include participation in the braille program offered by the National Library Service
  3. Provide adapted materials utilizing a variety of techniques, including recorded texts, tactile graphics, and braille
  4. Operate, and assist students in the operation and maintenance of specialized equipment such as braillers, keyboarding equipment, electronic scanners, and personal computers
  5. Consult with classroom teachers to provide accurate and appropriate adapted materials
  6. Work independently
  7. Carry out basic braille formatting for literacy, foreign language, and Nemeth code rules, except when modifications are requested by the VI teacher to accommodate braille reading ability of individual students
  8. Interline student brailled materials
  9. Demonstrate an understanding of and ability to produce special braille formats
  10. Provide braille output with a variety of braille systems, including braille translation software or comparable electronic rapid braille production systems, and braillewriters
  11. Order and maintain inventory of equipment and VI program materials

Evaluation:

  1. Accurate and timely work to be evaluated by VI professional and special education administration in accordance with school board policy
  2. Maintain an organized work area