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Improving Education for Individuals with Visual Impairments.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is a Vision Rehabilitation Therapist (VRT)?
  2. What are the admissions requirements?
  3. What are the employment opportunities? What are typical salaries for VRTs in New England?
  4. What financial assistance is available?
  5. What courses do I need to take? For certification? For a master's degree?
  6. Is there a thesis or exit exam requirement? Will I be certified?
  7. Do I need to come to Boston? Are all the courses online?
  8. How much time does it take to complete the program?

What is a Vision Rehabilitation Therapist (VRT)?

Vision Rehabilitation Therapists instruct people with vision impairments in the use of compensatory skills and assistive technology that will enable them to live safe, productive, and independent lives. Vision Rehabilitation Therapists work in areas that enhance the vocational opportunities, independent living, and educational development of people with vision loss, and may include working in center-based or itinerant settings.

Specific areas of instruction taught by Vision Rehabilitation Therapists include:

  1. Communication Systems (Braille, handwriting, recording skills, use of electronic reading systems, use of assistive technology and computer access technology)
  2. Personal Management (grooming, hygiene, clothing organization, medical measurement, socialization skills)
  3. Home Management (organization and labeling, repair and home maintenance, budgeting and record keeping)
  4. Activities of Daily Living (cooking, cleaning, shopping, safety, money organization and management)
  5. Leisure and Recreation (hobbies, woodworking, crafts, sports)
  6. Psychosocial Aspects of Blindness and Vision Loss
  7. Medical Management (assessment and instruction and training of adaptive medical equipment)
  8. Basic Orientation and Mobility Skills (sighted guide, safety techniques)

Vision Rehabilitation Therapists work with a number of special populations among people who are blind or visually impaired including people who are deaf-blind, college students, people over 55 years old, children in transition to adult services, individuals who are multiply disabled, employed people requiring "on the job training" or workplace management, and veterans.

What are the admissions requirements?

Admissions to all graduate programs are coordinated through the Office of Graduate Admissions. All materials and correspondence should be directed to the Office of Graduate Admissions, Campus Center, Upper Level. You can contact them at 617.287.6400. Program advisory information requests should be directed to Laura Bozeman (617.287.4385, laura.bozeman@umb.edu) or Sandy Smith (617.287.7633, sandy.smith@umb.edu).

Apply to UMass Boston by completing the standard graduate application provided in the Graduate Studies Bulletin and at http://www.umb.edu/admissions/grad/apply, where you can print out an application or apply online with a credit card. Specify that you are applying to the M.Ed. in Vision Studies/Vision Rehabilitation Therapy track.

As part of the application process for the university, you are also required to:

  • Obtain three letters of recommendation, using the forms provided by the Office of Graduate Admissions. Emphasis should be placed on academic and professional references that speak to your ability as a thoughtful educator in Vision Rehabilitation Therapy.
  • Complete all testing required by the University. If you do not have a master's degree, you will be required to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), Miller's Analogy Test (MAT), or the Massachusetts Test for Educator Licensure (MTEL) in Communication and Literacy.
  • Submit an official transcript from each institution attended; a minimum cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.0 is required for admissions to a master's degree program.
  • Complete your statement of interest and intent by submitting a two-part essay.
    1. Explain your reasons for wishing to pursue graduate studies in Vision Rehabilitation Therapy (approximately 300 words).
    2. Indicate your specific interest and discuss the type of work you would like to do as an Vision Rehabilitation Therapist (at least 1,200 words).

Application deadline:

November 1st for spring admission and June 1st for fall admission.

What are the employment opportunities? What are typical salaries for VRTs in New England?

Upon completion of this course of study, you will be eligible to apply for positions in adult rehabilitation programs and in specialized educational institutions across the country. Students willing to travel outside the state are likely to find employment before graduation. Salaries differ from state to state. VRT specialists may work in state vocational services for the blind, rehabilitation units of Veterans Administration hospitals, programs for elders with visual impairments, private non-profit organizations, rehabilitation agencies, low vision clinics, or private practice. The average beginning salary for an Vision Rehabilitation Therapist Specialist in New England is around $42,000.

What financial assistance is available?

The university's Financial Aid office has the most up-to-date information on this topic. Currently, there is grant funding for most of the tuition and registration fees. Students must obtain their own texts and required resources.

Are there any other fees I should know about?

There are several university fees that you will be asked to pay as you go along, including an application fee, new student fee, and graduation fee. In addition, you will have to pay a fee to take the ACVREP International Test for your certification.

What courses do I need to take? For certification? For a master's degree?

The individualized course of study is determined after an individual advisement meeting with the program coordinator and/or program director.

Is there a thesis or exit exam requirement? Will I be certified?

There is no thesis requirement; however, students are required to take the Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals (ACVREP) exam. Once this exam is passed, the person is internationally certified in Vision Rehabilitation Therapy.

Do I need to come to Boston? Are all the courses online?

The majority (approximately 90%) of the coursework is delivered through an online platform. Approximately halfway through the program, two VRT Methods labs are required. These labs begins are run concurrently with courses in the fall and spring semester and require 60 hours per course (delivered via cohorts in the student's region). Later in the program, practicum hours are required which are generally in the student's region as well.

How much time does it take to complete the program?

Most students are working and generally take two years to complete the program.

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