Cortical/Cerebral Visual Impairment (CVI) Certificate

CVI Fact Sheet

More than half of TVI and O&M specialists’ caseloads now include students with a diagnosis of Cortical/Cerebral Visual Impairment (CVI). These brain-based visual impairments present quite differently than ocular based visual impairments and additional training specific to this type of visual impairment is critical to effectively assess and provide services to students with this diagnosis. New work and research is being done to look at the neurophysiology of CVI and how it impacts learning.

As a university, we want to make sure that professionals in the vision impairment community are provided with an inclusive training that considers all research, perspectives and approaches so that they can effectively and clearly respond to the needs of students with CVI, their families and school districts. UMass Boston’s Vision Studies Program will be collaborating with Perkins to share resources and to offer quality courses that lead to a graduate certificate in CVI skills, knowledge and proficiency.

The five courses, which include CVI specific content, will cover the essential components for vision professionals to more deeply understand the visual brain, the brain based causes and manifestations of CVI, the current CVI specific assessment methods, how to apply assessments for students with CVI, how to apply current promising practices for the different manifestations of CVI and how to effectively collaborate around CVI with medical professionals, researchers, parents and school team members.

Each of the five courses will be three graduate credits and will each cost $1400. They will be completely online with some field experiences incorporated as part of the assignments. See the FAQ and fact sheet (linked at the top of the page) to learn more!


Admissions to all University of Massachusetts Boston Graduate Programs are coordinated through the Office of Graduate Admissions.   

Application deadline:  
All application documents must be received and processed by 1 June. Note: It can take up to 14 days for Graduate Admissions to process documents. 

Program information requests or questions should be directed to TVI/CVI Program Coordinator, Tammy Reisman at  tammy.reisman [at] (tammy[dot]reisman[at]umb[dot]edu).

Apply to UMass Boston Vision Studies Program: Cortical/Cerebral Visual Impairment 

1.   Complete the University of Massachusetts Boston Graduate application process, including the following: 

  • Graduate Admissions online application. Specify that you are applying to the Vision Studies: Cortical Visual Impairment track.
  • Obtain 2 letters of recommendation. Emphasis should be placed on academic and professional references. 
  • Official transcripts (a minimum cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.0 is required for admissions to a master's degree program.) 
  • Two part essay 
    • Explain your reasons for wishing to pursue graduate studies (approximately 300 words) 
    • Indicate your specific interest and discuss why you have selected CVI (approximately 1,200 words) 


  • Fall – Vision and the Brain/Neurology & Overview of Cortical/Cerebral Visual Impairment
  • Spring – Assessment
  • Summer – Promising Practices/ Methods
  • Fall – Consultation and Collaboration 


VISN 651 Visual Processing and the Brain/Neurology 

At the end of this course, students should have a firm grasp on the neuroanatomy associated with visual processing, brain development in the context of vision, as well as understand how and where various aspects of functional vision are processed in the brain and how early developmental brain damage may impact these processes. Specifically, we will cover concepts including motion processing, visual attention, object and face processing, visuomotor integration, and the various visual-perceptual difficulties such as agnosias. Students will also learn about the principles that govern neuroplasticity and vulnerability; different imaging modalities available to study the brain, learn what makes a good study and a scientifically valid and reliable assessment; and also understand how developing a common language between educators, clinicians, and parents is imperative for serving children with CVI.

VISN 648 Cortical/Cerebral Visual Impairment  

This course provides an overview CVI and resources available for assessment and instructional strategies. Participants will further examine and explore the unique educational needs of children with CVI and the skills related to teaching these children in a full array of educational settings; Pre-K through grade 12.  Assessment using the Christine Roman-Lantzy’s CVI Range and the Dutton “Questions to Ask Parents and Caregivers of Children with CVI” will be the focus for gathering parent information, determining the educational severity of CVI, setting goals, benchmarks, environmental and learning accommodations and for modifications for IEP development.  Topics will include characteristics of and causes of CVI, theories about CVI, assessment using the CVI Range, conducting parent interviews (Roman, Dutton, Oribus), teaching strategies that will apply in the core and expanded core curriculums, such as: literacy, self care, career-vocational skills, visual efficiency and compensatory strategies. Instruction will also address specific material modifications and accommodations.

VISN 652 Assessment of Students with CVI 

At the end of this course, students must understand that the traditional ocular functional vision assessments do not accurately and completely assess the visual processing and visual recognition difficulties of the child with brain based visual impairment. Specifically, we will cover concepts including the limitations of clinical vision functional testing and the need for functional vision testing by licensed TVIs and O&M professionals. Students will show ability to interpret ophthalmology, low vision and neurology reports. Students will learn to effectively perform CVI functional vision assessments and Learning Media Assessments with the consideration that neuroplasticity can lead to visual improvements and that each child needs a unique consideration of all skills and abilities. Assessment of compensatory skill use is also essential to understand the total child. 

VISN 653 Promising Practices/Methods of Teaching Students with CVI 

At the end of this course, students will be able to use assessment results to craft appropriate materials, environments and programming for their students with CVI based on their unique profiles. Reporting writing, IEP development, Service delivery, the adaptation of learning environments and materials, and instructional strategies based on the visual behaviors of each child with CVI. 

VISN 654 Consultation and Collaboration for Students with CVI 

At the end of this course, students will understand the knowledge and skills necessary for collaborative consultation and technical assistance to parents, school based teams and medical professionals of learners with a diagnosis of CVI. Collaboration strategies for effective information sharing with parents, teams and medical professional will be reviewed.