As I enter my fourth year as principal at the Kentucky School for the Blind, I find myself reflecting on my time as a Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments (TVI) and Orientation and Mobility Specialist working with students and families in public school. There were times when I was a child’s first TVI, and the parents weren’t aware of the services and support I would provide to them and to their child. You may also wonder what a Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments is and how they will help your child. Likewise, what is a Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist (COMS), and how will they help your child?
Please let me have a few minutes of your time to explain the crucial roles that the TVI and COMS play in ensuring the success and growth of your child who is blind or low vision.
Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments
The Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments (TVI) is a specially trained and certified professional who specializes in providing educational support for students who are blind or low vision. Their role extends beyond just teaching academics; they work to adapt and modify classroom materials, offer specialized instruction, and collaborate with general education teachers to create an inclusive learning environment. The TVI helps your child access information through tools like braille, large print, screen readers, and magnification devices. Their expertise ensures your child receives an education tailored to their unique needs. The TVI will also support you as part of your child’s educational team.
Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist
On the other hand, the Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist (COMS) focuses on helping your child develop crucial skills to navigate the world safely and independently. This specialist teaches mobility skills using an accessible mobility device, such as a white cane, or learning to travel with a sighted guide. They also work on spatial awareness, environmental understanding, and techniques for crossing streets and using public transportation. The COMS empowers your child to confidently explore their surroundings and participate in activities both inside and outside the classroom.
Collaboration between the TVI and COMS is essential. They create a comprehensive plan that addresses your child’s educational and mobility needs. Regular communication and coordination with teachers, therapists, and you as parents ensure that the program remains effective and adaptable to your child’s progress.
As parents, your involvement is invaluable. I encourage you to maintain open communication lines with the TVI and COMS. Sharing insights about your child’s preferences, strengths, and challenges helps these professionals tailor their support for optimal outcomes. Feel free to ask questions, express concerns, and engage in discussions about your child’s education journey.
Your child’s team of educational professionals is committed to providing your child with the best possible education and the tools they need to thrive. Working together, they can create an environment that fosters independence, growth, and success for your child who is blind or low vision.
Remember that you are an essential part of your child’s educational team. The TVI and COMS are there to teach your child but also to support you and answer any questions. Don’t be afraid to ask them questions or to explain how something works.
Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments (TVI)
O&M for Babies and Toddlers
Overview of Orientation and Mobility