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Assistive Technology Instructional Specialist Certificate of Graduate Study

Northern Illinois University is the first university to offer a course of study for the Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals (ACVREP)'s Certified Assistive Technology Instructional Specialist for People with Visual Impairments (CATIS) credential. The CATIS certification has created a national standard in the area of Assistive technology instruction for people who are visually impaired. 

The Northern Illinois University Visual Disabilities Program offers a standards-based program of courses in Assistive technology for existing vision professionals (teachers of students with visual impairments [TVIs], Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialists [COMS], and/or Certified Vision Rehabilitation Therapists [CVRTs]) leading to a Certificate of Graduate Study in Assistive Technology Instructional Specialist.

For more information about the ACVREP CATIS credential, please visit the ACVREP website.

What will I study?

Students will learn about using Assistive technologies for individuals with visual impairments. Courses include Assistive Technology for Persons with Visual Impairments, Assistive Technology for Learners with Multiple Disabilities, and Seminar in Assistive Technology for the Workforce Readiness of Persons with Visual Impairments. 

Where are classes offered?

Some classes are offered in a hybrid format, consisting of weekly online class sessions with two to three in-person meetings at the DeKalb campus. The courses for the certificate are offered during the summer.

Who is this program for?

This Certificate of Graduate Study is only for currently licensed/certified vision teachers or vision rehabilitation specialists. It is an abbreviated program of courses that presumes and requires extensive previous knowledge pertaining to instruction of individuals with visual impairments. Those who are new to the vision profession are not eligible for this Certificate of Graduate Study. Those who are new to the vision profession are encouraged to explore our full-length vision master’s degree programs leading to initial licensure/certification. 

Who accredits the program?

The program is nationally accredited by the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER), which advances excellence in higher education programs by assuring academic quality and supporting continuous improvement. The vision program is led by faculty who are Certified Teachers of the Blind/Visually Impaired and Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialists and collectively have 50 years of experience working with individuals with visual impairments.

What can I do with this certificate?

Students who complete this course sequence and are also licensed teachers of students with visual impairments, Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist, or Certified Vision Rehabilitation Therapist will be eligible to take the Certified Assistive Technology Instructional Specialist for People with Visual Impairments exam.

Graduates will have the opportunity to work at sites nationwide, including public school districts; schools for individuals with blindness and low vision; and hospitals.

Grant Funding Available

Grant funding is available to selected applicants but is not required to participate in this Certificate of Graduate Study. Project VITALL: Visually Impaired and Assistive Technology for ALL (VITALL) includes generous student financial assistance for practicing vision professionals seeking certification in assistive technology for the visually impaired.

The grant funding pays for all tuition, fees, and a small living stipend to selected applicants. However, this certificate program is available to students who are not applying for grant funding as well. There is a service obligation requirement for all students who are funded by the grant. The service obligation requires that, upon exiting the training program, employment will be maintained for at least twice the time the scholar received funding in a special education school-based setting related to the training received.*

For more detailed information, contact Dr. Stacy Kelly. 

Requirements

The program is comprised of four three-semester-hour courses, with 12 hours of internship experience associated with the program of courses. This will be a total of 24 semester hours of coursework.

Candidates will enroll in these courses in cohort groups:

  • SEVI 550: Assistive Technology for Persons with Visual Impairments (3 hrs.)
  • SEVI 551: Assistive Technology for Persons with Visual Impairments: Advanced Topics (3 hrs.)
  • SESE 552: Assistive Technology for Learners with Multiple Disabilities (3 hrs.)
  • SEVI 596: *Seminar in Vision Assistive Technology for 21st Century Workforce Readiness (3 hrs.)
  • SEVI 585D: *Internship in Assistive Technology Instruction of Persons with Visual Impairments (9 hrs.)

It is a summers-only program designed to limit the interruption in employment for practicing teachers. The current course rotation scheduled for the first cohort is:

Summer 2017 - eight weeks from Mid-June through Mid-August- SEVI 550, SEVI 551, SESE 552, and SEVI 596*

Summer 2018 - Full-time approx. Twelve week internship - SEVI 585D*

Exact Course titles TBD

In addition to the program of courses, a passing score on the ACVREP CATIS exam required for those seeking the ACVREP CATIS certification. This ACVREP requirement is not completed until after all required CATIS-specific coursework is completed. For more information about the ACVREP CATIS credential requirements including the exam, visit the ACVREP website

Admissions 

This program of courses presumes extensive prior knowledge and these admission requirements contribute to evidence of this prior knowledge. 

  • An application to the NIU Graduate School, Master of Science in Education in Special Education, Specialization in of Visual Rehabilitation Therapy (Blind Rehabilition).
  • A separate application to the Visual Disabilities Program Assistive Technology Instructional Specialist Certificate of Graduate Study.
  • Official transcripts from all previous academic work.
  • A bachelor’s degree from an accredited four-year institution with a minimum 3.0 grade point average on a 4.0 scale.
  • Current licensure or certification as a teacher of students with visual impairments, Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist, and/or Certified Vision Rehabilitation Therapist.
  • Copies of all current licensures and certifications (e.g., TVI, COMS, CVRT).
  • Official Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores.
  • Three letters of recommendation citing successful professional experience, positive dispositions, and potential for success as an Assistive Technology Instructional Specialist.
  • Completed ACVREP CATIS Core Domain Area Checklist.
  • Documentation (e.g., official transcript or certificate of completion/attendance) must be provided for each Core Domain Area identified on the ACVREP CATIS Core Domain Area Checklist.

To help track your application, a printable checklist is available.

 

Questions?

Questions about CATIS may be directed to:
Dr. Stacy Kelly
Associate Professor
skelly@niu.edu
(815) 753-4103

For advisement:
Leslie Hecht

Academic Advisor
lbhecht@niu.edu
(815) 753-0381