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Ohio Guidelines for Working with Students who are Blind or Visually Impaired

Licensure for Vision Professionals

Students with visual impairments are provided educational services by an Ohio-licensed TVI. Learners who are visually impaired and require orientation and mobility training or other orientation skills receive additional services by an Ohio-licensed COMS. Fully-licensed TVIs and COMSs have completed numerous hours of coursework and internship with other licensed individuals in the field of visual impairment education, and successfully passed nationally recognized tests in their areas of expertise.

Training Program Requirements

All individuals who are applying to be licensed as a TVI or COMS in Ohio must be recommended for an initial licensure by an accredited teacher training program. A list of approved educator programs may be found on the Ohio Department of Higher Education website under the “Student” drop-down menu.

Required Tests

Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments (TVI) – The state of Ohio requires passing the Ohio Educator Assessment test provided by Evaluation Systems Group of Pearson for licensure. Candidates seeking to obtain an initial license as an intervention specialist in visual impairments must take the Assessment of Professional Knowledge: Multi-Age (PK-12)/004 examination and receive a minimum score of 220. All educators seeking either initial licensure or an additional licensure as an intervention specialist in the area of visually impaired (PK-12) (Licensure Code 65-196109) must take the Ohio Educator Assessment Test entitled “Special Education Specialist: Visually Impaired” (code number 045) and receive a minimum score of 220. This examination requires that examinees bring a braille writer to the testing center. The test contains multiple-choice questions, constructed response questions, and a braille transcription test. In addition, all newly licensed or additional licensure-seeking candidates must take the Ohio Educator Assessment Test entitled “Foundations of Reading Assessment” (code number 090) and receive a minimum score of 220. The test contains multiple-choice questions and constructed responses. Preparation materials and information about payment, testing centers, and policies for examination may be found online. Orientation and Mobility Specialist – The Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Educational Professionals (ACVREP) provides the examination for licensure as a COMS. A multiple-choice examination is administered to all candidates. Preparation materials, information about testing centers, and policies for the examination may be found on the COMS section of the ACVREP website.

Licensure Applications

Anyone applying for a teaching licensure must obtain a BCI criminal background report. If applying from out of state, both a Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) background report is required. These reports may be initialized at local police, sheriff, or fingerprinting stations. Some universities require that results be sent to the educator preparation office prior to student teaching or internship. The results of the reports are also shared with the Ohio Department of Education. Applications for Ohio Licensure as either a TVI or a COMS are completed online.

Recruitment Strategies for TVIs and COMS

The Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER) features a Job Exchange, a listing of advertisements posted by school divisions, agencies, and other organizations in need of professionally trained staff. A fee is charged for this service.

The Council for Exceptional Children’s Division on Visual Impairment and Deafblindness also features an Employment Opportunities portal. This site features listings of positions for TVIs, teachers of students with deafblindness, COMS, and personnel preparation. There is no fee for this service.

The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) is a central source of information and services for individuals who are blind or visually impaired across the United States. The website includes a listing of colleges and universities offering teacher preparation programs for TVIs and COMSs in the United States and Canada.