Needed: Blind Individuals for University Training as Orientation and Mobility Instructors by Ruby Ryles
From the Editor: Most people who know Ruby Ryles think of her as a sensible and intuitive teacher of blind children. Some of us have become familiar with her research on the importance of learning Braille as early as possible in elementary school. Now she is using her expertise in visual impairment to tackle the serious problem of too few good instructors in the field of orientation and mobility. This is what she says:
The Louisiana Center for the Blind, Louisiana Rehabilitation Services, and the Louisiana Department of Education, in cooperation with Louisiana Tech University and Grambling University, proudly announce an exciting, long- overdue program created specifically to train qualified blind and minority adults as orientation and mobility (O&M) instructors. Ruston, Louisiana, home to both Louisiana Tech University and the Louisiana Center for the Blind, promises to be an especially hot spot in June because classes are scheduled to begin in the nation's first university O&M training program specifically recruiting blind applicants.
As most Federationists know, many of the nation's most competent orientation and mobility instructors have been denied professional training and/or certification solely because they were blind. This program marks the beginning of a new era. The Louisiana Center for the Blind, the Louisiana Rehabilitation Services, and the Louisiana State Department of Education are now developing certification standards which are fully inclusive of qualified blind persons. The certification currently being designed is an alternative to the prohibitive certification of the Association for Education and Rehabilitation for the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER). Applicants completing the prescribed course of study will earn either certification in orientation and mobility or a master's degree, which will include certification. Both will be awarded on the basis of meritorious achievement rather than vision.
Classes will be held at Louisiana Tech University, one of Louisiana's major universities. The university is located within easy walking distance of the Louisiana Center for the Blind (LCB), one of the nation's premier training centers for the blind. Known for its highly successful rehabilitation program, the Louisiana Center for the Blind will serve as host for internships; practica; seminars; and liberal doses of down-home, southern-style fun and friendship with students and staff. University courses in the program will incorporate the theory and best practices of both the "guided-learning" model which dominates traditional university-based O&M programs, and the progressive agency-training model grounded in structured- discovery learning.
If an innovative, model program conducted at a state university with an acclaimed training center for the blind situated in lovely northeastern Louisiana isn't enough to whet your appetite for learning, there's more! Financial assistance with tuition, books, supplies, room and board, and travel is available. Classes will start in June, and interest in the program has been heavy, so don't waste time. Call now for more information. Interested blind adults who have completed an undergraduate degree are encouraged to contact Ruby Ryles at (318) 251-2891. Come join us as we begin a new era in the orientation and mobility field. Note: This grant is funded through the U.S. Department of Education, Rehabilitation Services Administration, under Experimental and Innovative Training Programs. We welcome sighted applicants as well, but they must meet the same high standards expected of blind students.