Professional Development and Research Institute on Blindness
The mission of the Professional Development and Research Institute on Blindness is to prepare highly qualified professionals to educate and rehabilitate individuals who are blind or visually impaired, and to conduct research that broadens and deepens our understanding about blindness and the best methods for increasing independence for individuals who are blind or visually impaired.
Founded in 1996 with the help of an experimental/innovative grant from the U.S. Department of Education, the Institute on Blindness was established to create the first non-discriminatory program in equipping people interested in teaching cane travel and braille to blind students using Structured Discovery Cane Travel (SDCT)™ methods and principles. Using this methodology, we have proven over the last two decades, that it is the non-visual techniques that keep blind people safe while learning to travel…not the instructor's visual acuity. All PDRIB programs are based fundamentally on the premise that structured discovery methods, positive attitudes about blindness, and high expectations for performance are the keys for helping children and adults who are blind or visually impaired to become independent, productive members of society.
The Institute on Blindness provides outstanding professional preparation for individuals entering the field of working with blind children or adults, and our graduates have been eagerly sought after by employers from all across the United States in both public and private sectors.
We are committed to providing leadership in creating programs and conducting research that empowers blind individuals not only to live independently, but also to participate fully in society. We take pride in maintaining high academic standards. The Master's degree programs at Louisiana Tech University are non-discriminatory and designed to exceed the standards and competencies of traditional university training programs.
The Institute on Blindness has worked in partnership with the Louisiana Center for the Blind, one of the leading adult orientation and adjustment training centers in the United States, to develop rigorous and high quality graduate degree programs
The Professional Development and Research Institute on Blindness offers three Graduate degree programs, each of which is designed to provide high quality education and support for students.
The Masters of Arts in Counseling and Guidance / Orientation and Mobility program remains the only university-based degree program that prepares individuals to teach cane travel skills to children and adults who are blind or visually impaired using Structured Discovery Cane Travel (SDCT)™ methods and principles. Core to this program, all students undergo a minimum of 400 hours of immersion in blindness, where all students (blind and sighted) wear blindfolds eight hours per day learning nonvisual skills for accomplishing travel skills safely and efficiently.
The Master of Arts in Counseling and Guidance / Rehabilitation Teaching for the Blind program was founded in 2014 and is designed to teach a broad range of skills, including cane travel, braille, activities of daily living, and access technology to children and adults. Similarly, students matriculating through the RTB program begin their training through immersion in foundational nonvisual skills based on Structured Discovery methods and principles.
The Master of Arts in Teaching / Teaching Blind Students program prepares teachers of children who are blind or visually impaired the skills necessary to educate children with visual impairments in the regular and specialized classroom settings. Foundational to this program, all students must demonstrate mastery in reading and writing the Unified English Braille code before student teaching. Teachers gain a deep understanding about the impact of attitudes and expectations on education, and are given broad exposure to Access Technology, and the Expanded Core Curriculum.
Regardless of which degree track is right for you, all individuals seeking to become students at Louisiana Tech should be familiar with information related to applying to the University.
The Professional Development and Research Institute on Blindness at Louisiana Tech University also provides information to the broader community about blindness, dispelling misconceptions, and promoting training and education about the potential of individuals who are blind or visually impaired.
The Critical Concerns in Blindness book series provides in-depth discourse into specific strategies for training young children and adults in ways that capitalize on their strengths and promotes the capacity, rather than deficiencies of individuals living with vision loss. From mobility concepts for teaching very young children the importance of movement, helping parents to get the best educational experience for their children, to the methods and principals that underlie high quality rehabilitation training for adults and seniors.
Our Research Reports serve as a centralized location highlighting some of the contemporary research being done in the area of training and education for individuals who are blind or visually impaired, and provides links to download these reports directly. The latest employment and rehabilitation statistics on the lived experiences of adults who are blind or visually impaired, Research on reliability and validity of reading media assessments necessary for educating children with a visual impairment, and research on the role of attitudes, expectations, and mentoring on the lives of children and adults who are blind or visually impaired are a few of the reports you will find here.
In an effort to impact the field more broadly, we work to provide continuing education opportunities to professionals nationwide in the areas of Structured Discovery, teaching, and braille literacy. We also work closely with the National Blindness Professional Certification Board to ensure high-quality certification standards for professionals who wish to teach Orientation and Mobility, Rehabilitation Teaching, or Braille literacy.
We extend an invitation to all individuals to find out more about our degree programs and research work.