Initial Specialty Set: Blind and Visual Impairments
Initial Specialty Set: Deafblindness
Special Education Paraeducator Intervener for Individuals With Deafblindness (PDBI)
Frequently Asked Questions
The CEC’s Division on Visual Impairment and Deafblindness (DVIDB) Initial Specialty Set was developed in order to inform personnel preparation programs, accreditation organizations, and credentialing agencies about the skills that a teacher of students with visual impairments (TVI) must master in order to become an effective educator of students who are blind or who have low vision upon initial licensure.
- Are these standards enforceable, and if so, how and by who are they enforced/monitored? For universities? states? individual teachers?
- The initial specialty set from DVIDB adheres to the standards set forth by the larger CEC organization. All personnel preparation programs in visual impairment education that are applying to become accredited programs through the Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) must show evidence of pre-service teachers’ knowledge and skills as set forth by CEC standards. A review team of professionals in special education reviews all reports of that evidence and monitors the practice of personnel preparation in university settings. Accreditation of a university by CAEP is dependent upon adherence to the standards.
- What about TVIs who do not go through university programs – do these standards apply?
- No. The standards do not necessarily apply, although some university preparation programs that are not CAEP-accredited use these standards to design their coursework and field experiences. Without evidence of having adhered to the CEC DVIDB initial specialty set, it is unknown what training those TVIs are receiving. However, an employer who hires a teacher from a personnel preparation program that adheres to the standards can be assured of the training of that person by reviewing the standards.
According to CEC, the initial standards define what beginning teachers must know and be able to do to begin their teaching career. The initial specialty sets define the knowledge and skills professionals must have to begin their work in specific areas within special education.
Those teachers who are in their careers and wish to deepen their understanding of skills and knowledge will be involved in programs that follow the advanced set of standards. The larger CEC organization has a set of advanced standards that those programs would need to follow for purposes of advanced accreditation. Currently our division does not have a specialty set of advanced specialty standards.
DVIDB supports both the initial CEC standards and the advanced set of standards.
- Are parents/families of students with visual impairments involved? If so, how?
- Are people who are blind/visually impaired involved? If so, how?
The standards were developed as part of work that spanned over 2 years. Teams of people met at national conferences to discuss the standards and provide input. Anyone with interest in the standards who could not attend the conferences could provide input through email to the chair of the committee. The standards were available for public comment throughout the 2 years. Updates on the standards revision process were provided quarterly in our division journal. Comments and suggestions were submitted by anyone who had an interest in the process and concerns on the knowledge and skill levels of pre-service TVIs. Therefore, parents, families, and persons with visual impairments were all invited to make comments throughout this process. All suggestions and comments were taken back to a committee of persons in personnel preparation for consideration. The final document reflects the recommendations of the field.
- multiple disabilities?
- specific types of blindness/visual impairment such as cortical/cerebral visual impairment?
Deafblindness is recognized as its own category in statute and regulation in the United States, Canada, and other countries. Standards for teachers of the deafblind and interveners who serve students who are deafblind follow the same process for review, alignment, and validation. Deafblindness is not specifically written into the standards, since a specialty set will be written for teaching students with deafblindness. However, working with students with deafblindness is inferred in standard 1.
Specific standards related to students with multiple disabilities are found in standard 4 and 5.
Specific types of blindness/visual impairment, including cerebral/cortical visual impairment, are referenced in standards found in standards 1 and 5.
*Please note that throughout the document, the term students with visual impairments includes all students TVIs serve, as long as they qualify for services. The larger CEC organization would not allow us to name each visual condition and additional disability in the standards; the list would be too long. Therefore, TVIs should be trained to teach all students likely to be represented on an assigned case-load, including students with multiple disabilities and those students who have specific types of visual impairment. Specific standards for teaching students with deafblindness will be updated in the upcoming years.
Each specialty set should be updated, ideally, every seven years. Sometimes this frequency of revision is not always possible. It is anticipated that our next set of standards should be updated in 2026.
CEC standards reflect the views of the field in accordance to the guidelines set forth by the CEC organization. AER Core Standards and TVI Standards reflect the views of the field in accordance to the guidelines set forth by AER. AER and CEC are two different organizations with different guidelines on standards and standards development.
Other professionals serving students with visual impairments have other guidelines set forth by their professional organizations. For example, numerous personnel preparation programs in orientation and mobility adhere to the standards established by AER and the Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Blindness Professionals (ACVREP).
There are numerous ways for stakeholders to continue to provide feedback on the credentialing/licensing of TVIs. These standards are only one of many guidelines that are used in personnel preparation. Each state may have additional requirements for licensure and credentialing. Stakeholders can get involved at their state level through guidance meetings in departments of education, universities, or professional organizations.
A teacher or teacher candidate who has been university trained and is seeking employment can use the standards set forth by CEC DVIDB and/or AER to demonstrate to an administrator or employer the knowledge and skills that he/she possesses upon completion of teacher training. This document can demonstrate to the employer or administrator why he/she should be hired instead of someone who comes from another type of licensure/certificate program.
A teacher or parent may use the published standards in discussions with administrators and IEP teams to help explain and clarify the training and role of a teacher of students with visual impairments. While each state may establish its own requirements for teachers, these accepted standards clearly outline the knowledge and skills determined by the field of blindness and visual impairments to be within the scope of a the TVI profession.