Job Title: Teacher Of The Blind And Visually Impaired
Type of Company: I work for 2 different school systems on the South Shore of MA under a vendor contract.
Education: BA Boston College, Elementary Education MEd Boston College, Education of the Visually Impaired Higher Ed coursework in Orientation and Mobility of the Blind, UMass Boston
Previous Experience: After college I worked as a teacher and supervisor in a large early childhood center with infants through kindergarten. For the past 15 years I have worked as a teacher of the visually impaired in public school systems and for educational collaboratives. I am currently an independent contractor for schools.
Job Tasks: My job involves the following responsibilities: 1. Provide direct instruction to blind and visually impaired students in Braille, daily living skills, technology, use of vision, career, social skills and advocacy. 2. Transcribe all classroom print materials into braille using a brailler or computer software. 3. Collaborate with regular education classroom teachers on how to adapt the curriculum and make lessons accessible for my student. 4. Evaluate the visual ability of students for a functional vision evaluation. 5. Conduct a Learning Media Assessment to decide if braille and or print are the proper learning media. 6. Work with families to train, assist and collaborate on how to work with and help their child at home and school. 7. Write IEPs (education plans) and progress reports for the school system. 8. Professional Development: take classes in my field, teach some conferences, take on student teachers new to the field. 9. Apply for grants for my students for technology. 10. Provide in-services for new teachers and staff and administrators who will be working with a child who is blind. 11. Each year, order and obtain braille and talking books through state, regional and national organizations for my students to use in classrooms. 12. Teach aides who work with my students how to create tactile graphics of math and science diagrams and maps, and how to use software to create braille documents.
Best and Worst Parts of the Job: I have the opportunity to teach children who are blind skills that will last a lifetime. By teaching the braille and technology, students have a greater chance of a level playing field with their peers. I am able to give families hope that their child will have a strong and bright future. I love working directly with the children, especially the little ones! I love teaching braille and technology. I enjoy the variety of my job..meeting many new people, students, going to different schools and the flexible schedule.
The parts of my job that I don't enjoy are report writing, when staff or a school are resistant to having a blind child attend, when a family is in grief or angry about the disability (challenging to handle)
Job Tips: This is a wonderful field with a shortage of teachers. People who would like to work in this field should have strong interpersonal skills, and believe that blind people can do most anything if equipped with the proper life and job skills. While there can be challenges in terms of the isolation as a sole provider in a school system, there are wonderful organizations and schools for the blind, or larger school systems that offer the support a new teacher needs.
Additional Thoughts: There is a critical shortage of teachers of the visually impaired in the United States. And the shortage will get worse as current teachers retire. To address this shortage, there is federal funding through grants to pay for people to go to school to become a teacher of the blind. The programs are almost covered in full, so long as you commit to work in the field of blindness for at least two years for each year of grant funded education. It is an incredibly rewarding field!
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