Orientation & Mobility

What is an Orientation and Mobility specialist?

Orientation and Mobility (O&M) specialists teach people who are blind or visually impaired the skills and concepts they need in order to travel independently and safely, be it in the home and classroom or in the community and city. Some O&M specialists teach visually impaired children in school programs; others teach adults in rehabilitation settings. In addition, O&M specialists are qualified to teach independent orientation and travel skills to visually impaired people with multiple disabilities, including those who have remaining functional vision as well as those who are totally blind.

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 Darick Wright at derrick.wright@umb.edu or Paula Kosior at 617.287.7584 or paula.kosior@umb.edu.

Apply to the UMass Boston Orientation and Mobility track by completing the standard graduate application provided in the Graduate Studies Bulletin or 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-Orientation and Mobility track or the Certificate in Orientation and Mobility. 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.
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 Analogy Test (MAT), or the Massachusetts Test for Educator Licensure (MTEL).
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 (approximately 300 words).

2. Indicate your specific interest and discuss the type of work you would like to do in your intended field (at least 1,200 words).

Please note that this statement will be reviewed for both your overall message and your ability to write at the graduate level. Proofread your writing carefully; it is ranked according to its clarity, grammar, and syntax.

Application deadline:

Applicants are accepted into the program twice a year for the Summer and Fall semesters. Summer deadline is March 1st and Fall is June 1st.

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

Upon completion of this course of study, you will be eligible to apply for positions in school districts and adult rehabilitation programs across the country. Students willing to travel outside the state are likely to find employment before graduation. Salaries differ from state to state. O&M 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, schools (preschool, elementary, and secondary), rehabilitation agencies, low vision clinics, and in private practice.

What financial assistance is available?

The Vision Studies Program Coordinator or Director has the most up-to-date information on this topic. Currently, there is grant funding for most of the tuition. Students must obtain their own texts and required resources. The university's Financial Aid office has information on financial aid loans.

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 Orientation and Mobility.

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, a Methods lab is required. This lab begins in July and requires the student to devote one day per week in a face-to-face class (delivered via cohorts in the student's region). Later in the program, pre-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.

Is there any information about dog guide schools?

The Seeing Eye in Morristown, NJ and Guiding Eyes for the Blind in White Plains, NY provide 1 day seminars at UMass which are scheduled in the second year of study.