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Visual Disabilities Program

Visual Disabilities Program
Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Special Education
Department of Special Education

Students in the Low Incidence Program Track in Visual Disabilities receive rigorous training to work with all students with visual impairments and collaborate with their teachers and families to promote independence and access to their education. Students may have additional disabilities or having a visual impairment is their only disability. Students with visual impairments learn in classrooms throughout the education placement continuum, and TVIs support students in all educational placements. Students with visual impairments may have a mild visual impairment and be primarily visual learners or can be total blind and be primarily tactile or auditory learners. As a graduate of the program, you will be prepared to be a licensed teacher of students with visual impairments (TVI) and work with students pre-K through 12th grade.

Graduates of our program hold a range of positions. This includes, preschool teachers, itinerant TVIs, resource room teachers, teachers in schools for the blind, special education teachers, school administrators, and jobs focused on transition or working with adults with visual impairments.

For more on the program, read this article

Program Highlights

  • The program is open to full- and part-time graduate students to earn an M.Ed. 
  • You may earn initial teaching licensure or add an endorsement in visual impairments to your current teaching license.
  • Program duration ranges 1.5-2.5 years depending on the pacing.
  • Program credits: 35 credits (+ 6 credits for student teaching for candidates seeking initial licensure).

Program Curriculum

  • SPEDS 7700  Characteristics of Students with Low Incidence Disabilities
  • SPEDV 7100  Medical and Educational Implications of Visual Impairments
  • SPEDV 7200  Educational Procedures for Students with Visual Impairments
  • SPEDV 7300  Braille Reading and Writing
  • SPEDV 7900  Teaching Braille
  • SPEDV 7400  Communication and Literacy Skills for Students with Visual Impairments
  • SPEDV 7600  Advanced Procedures for Students with Visual Impairments
  • SPEDV 7700  Orientation and Mobility for Teachers of Students with Visual Impairments
  • SPEDV 7951  Field Work in Visual Impairment
  • SPEDV 7953  Advanced Field Work in Visual Impairment
  • SPEDV 7991  Extended Student Teaching for Graduate Students in Visual Impairments (for candidates seeking initial teacher licensure)
  • SPED 7000   Education and Psychology of Exceptional Learners
  • SPED 7400   Management Procedures for Academic and Social Behaviors
  • EDUC 6010   Educational Psychology


  • Priority Application Deadline: December 31, 2022. 
  • Applications will be accepted after December 31, but applicants will be evaluated for admission and scholarships as space and funds are available.
  • For additional requirements, see the application checklist
  • To apply now.

Note: For the 2022 application cycle, the GRE is optional for admission to master's programs due to ongoing restrictions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have taken the GRE and believe your scores will improve your application, you may submit the GRE with your application.


Rachel Schles, PhD, TVI
Coordinator of Visual Disabilities Program
Assistant Professor of the Practice

Kelly Limina
Admissions Coordinator
(615) 322-8195


Katherine Erickson

Katherine Mentzel Ericson
Visual Disabilities Special Education
Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments/Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist Department of Defense
Education Activity

“Serving as a TVI is a unique opportunity to make a difference in students’ lives. TVIs can work in a traditional classroom setting or travel as an itinerant professional. As an itinerant TVI, I appreciate working with different students, teachers, and parents across settings. I also especially appreciate the professional community of TVIs; our field is particularly supportive of one another."

"I would highly recommend Vanderbilt’s TVI program because you will learn from leaders in the special education field. While your classes will focus on serving students with visual impairments, you will also learn more about effective behavior management and how to use and conduct high-quality research. Vanderbilt’s program thoroughly prepares you to be a leader in the vision field.”

Stacey Chambers

Stacey Chambers
Visual Disabilities Special Education
Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments
Coppell, Texas

"Getting my master's degree in Visual Disabilities from Vanderbilt has opened the doors for a collaborative and creative career where I truly feel I am making a difference every day in the lives of my students and their families. As TVI, I teach skills in the classroom as well as the community, and I see the direct impact of the skills and support I provide. Vanderbilt is a leader at the university level in training teachers to confidently assess, teach, and monitor progress in all VI-related skills and to do the job with excellence. My time at Vanderbilt laid the groundwork for lifelong learning, which is critical in this ever-changing field. I formed relationships with colleagues and mentors during my time at Vanderbilt that continue to encourage, support, and inspire me to this day."