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.