Title: Workforce watch
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00090862/00004
 Material Information
Title: Workforce watch
Series Title: Workforce watch
Physical Description: Serial
Language: English
Creator: Center on Personnel Studies in Special Education, College of Education, University of Florida
Publisher: Center on Personnel Studies in Special Education, College of Education, University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: February 2004
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00090862
Volume ID: VID00004
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.


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A Dwindling Supply of Qualified

Personnel of Students with Visual

Impairments and Blindness

What States Should Know

There is a persistent, nationwide short-
age of qualified personnel of students
Swho are visually impaired, blind, or deaf-
blind. Although rural areas traditionally
have been hit hardest by shortages, even
many large city programs and special
nnel schools have critical shortages of certi-
isual fied personnel-defined here as teach-
ers of students with visual impairments or
blindness blindness, teachers of students who are
Id states deaf-blind, and orientation and mobility
meet the specialists. In fact, it is estimated that as
many as 35 percent of those individuals
who receive new certifications in the area
are employed to work with students with
visual impairments or blindness prior to
beginning their coursework.
The result: Too many students receive
either no service or limited service from
an individual who is properly prepared
FEBRUARY2004 to address their unique learning needs.
PB-4 Many students rarely see a specialist who
can teach braille or other disability-spe-
Scific skills.
As states look to support districts in filling
vacant positions for personnel to work
with students with visual impairments or
ON PERSONNEL blindness, the emphasis will be on find-

ing qualified candidates. What should
you know about current trends in per-
sonnel preparation and what do experts
recommend you do about them? Read
on to find insights from the research.

Did You Know That Our Capacity
To Prepare Personnel To Work
with Students with Visual
Impairments Is Limited?
Personnel preparation programs are pro-
ducing insufficient numbers of graduates
to fill the nationwide shortages. Part of
the problem lies with the fact that few
preparation programs are in operation.
Preparation programs for personnel of
students with visual impairments and
blindness are found only in approximate-
ly one-half of the states. Rarely do states
offer more than one program.
During the last two decades, some prep-
aration programs have been closed. The
number of programs dropped from 42 in
the late 1980s to 36 by the end of the
1990s. Since 1999, five programs have
stopped accepting new students and one
has been closed. [Note: Two programs
were initiated during this same time.]


-- nationwide sho
of qualified person
of students with v
impairments and
exist-What shou
know in order to



Further compounding the prob-
lem is the reduction in the num-
ber of teacher education facul-
ty members. Some programs do
not have a single full-time facul-

ty member with

and students
report that
large numbers
of students
with visual
have been placed
in residential
programs as a
result of certified

expertise in visu-
al impairments
and blindness.
In some cases,
teachers with
master's degrees
develop con-
tent and provide
coursework on a
part-time basis.
Currently, 31.8
full-time facul-
ty members are
providing activi-
ties that normal-
ly would require
57 full-time fac-
ulty members.

The relative lack of available
preparation programs hampers
recruitment efforts and, ultimately,
contributes to the shortage of
qualified personnel of students
with visual impairments and
blindness. Potential candidates
may not be willing or may be fi-
nancially unable to attend prepa-
ration programs that are located
great distances from their homes,
even when a portion of the train-
ing is delivered online or off cam-
pus. Moreover, due to the small
number of students pursuing
certification in visual impairment
and blindness, some universities
may cancel program offerings
in a given year, resulting in ad-
ditional hardships. In addition,
the expenses that many individu-
als incur in pursuing training typi-
cally are not offset by their salaries
once they are employed.

Did You Know That States
Are Providing Personnel
Preparation Support?

Quality personnel preparation
programs in the field of visual im-
pairments and blindness can be
costly. Some states have provided
support for personnel preparation
programs. Examples include:
* State funding for prepa-
ration programs. For ex-
ample, Texas and North
Carolina provide line item
budget appropriations.

* State funding for tuition
assistance. For example,
Arizona and Alabama con-
tribute funds to candidates.

Do You Know About
National Efforts To Increase
the Number of Available

These national activities may have
a positive effect:
* National Agenda for the
Education of Children and
Youth with Visual Impair-
ments, Including Those with
Multiple Disabilities. The
agenda includes 10 general
goals, one of which speaks di-
rectly to preparation. National
organizations, state coordina-
tors, and state/local commit-
tees are working to achieve the

* Blind and Visually Impaired
Students: Educational Ser-
vice Guidelines. The National
Association of State Directors
of Special Education worked
with 12 national organizations
to develop this document,
which identifies promising
practices. Ten states have par-

ticipated in workshops based
on the document.

SNational Plan for Training
Personnel To Serve Children
with Blindness and Low Vi-
sion. The U.S. Department of
Education, Office of Special
Education Programs, support-
ed a collaborative planning
process with national stake-

For More Information
Information reported in this brief
was based on the COPSSE is-
sue brief, Free and Appropriate
Public Education and the
Personnel Crisis for Students
with Visual Impairments and
Blindness, by Anne L. Corn and
Susan J. Spungin. This document
can be found on the COPSSE web
site at www.copsse.org.

The Center on Personnel Studies in Spe-
cial Education is funded by the Office of
Special Education Programs of the U.S.
Department of Education [cooperative
agreement #H325Q000002]. COPSSE
research is designed to inform scholars
and policymakers about beginning teach-
er quality, effective initial preparation, and
the effects of preparation alternatives. The
Center is directed by Drs. Paul Sindelar
and Mary Brownell. The policy briefs were
produced by Warger, Eavy & Associates.
University of Florida, 300 Norman Hall,
PO. Box 117050, Gainesville, FL 32611
352-392-0701 (X283), www.copsse.org

S Opinins ep ed herein
do not necessarily reflect the
S views of the U S Department
Hr u of Education

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