Braille Monitor                                                                                                        May 2004

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Another Milestone in Ruston, Louisiana

by Ron Gardner

From the Editor: Ron Gardner is director of the Professional Development and Research Institute on Blindness at Louisiana Tech University, the institute created by Joanne Wilson in collaboration with Louisiana Tech University officials before she left for Washington. Ron has some exciting news to announce. Here is what he says:

Kaye Bullard and Brook Sexton in academic regalia
Kaye Bullard and Brook Sexton in academic regalia

Our Institute on Blindness at Louisiana Tech University is committed to achieving academic excellence dedicated to blind empowerment. Our first graduate degree program established at Louisiana Tech through a partnership with the Louisiana Center for the Blind was a master's degree in educational psychology with a concentration in orientation and mobility (O and M). We strongly believe in nonvisual instruction and structured discovery learning, and it has been a resounding success. Our O and M graduates are being sought across the nation. Ninety-five percent of our graduates are currently working as blindness professionals, using their master's degrees in O and M.

Our second master's degree program—a master's of education with certification in teaching blind students (TBS)—has just graduated its first class of students. Our graduate students earn forty-two credit hours and meet rigorous standards for certification in teaching blind students. They also have the opportunity to earn a second certification in O and M.

Brook Sexton of California received her master's of education degree and is currently employed at the Institute on Blindness, working on research in the area of education of blind children and conducting in-service training for teachers, parents, and para-professionals in the education of blind children. She is also helping to teach here at the university. She will continue working at the Institute on Blindness and plans to pursue a doctorate in education.

Kaye Bullard is currently working as a special education teacher in the state of Louisiana. She has identified visually impaired students in her new job and is striving to raise the standards for blind students in her school as well as in the state. Kaye is also contemplating pursuing a doctoral degree.

As with our first master's program, the TBS master's degree rests firmly upon the foundation of the truth about blindness as identified and articulated by members of the organized blind movement-–the National Federation of the Blind.

The TBS program is analogous—in name, not in content—to other university programs which refer to the preparation of "Vision" teachers; that is, we are preparing special education teachers who will work with blind students. Our TBS program, however, includes a huge plus—our master's students can receive credentials in both TBS and O and M. As a result they will be a highly valued commodity in the blindness field. Both Brook Sexton and Kaye Bullard completed both programs—TBS and O and M—and are eligible for teacher certification as well as NOMC (National Orientation and Mobility Certification).

We are educating highly qualified blindness professionals and helping to provide employment opportunities for blind people. We presently have twelve students in our master's degree programs. If you or someone you know, blind or sighted, is interested in earning a master's degree in the area of blindness, please contact the Institute on Blindness at Louisiana Tech University at (318) 257-4554 or visit our Web site at <www.instituteonblindness.latech.edu>.

 We congratulate Brook and Kaye for their commitment to achieving academic excellence dedicated to blind empowerment.

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