Dedicated to Improving the Lives of Blind and Visually Impaired People

Financial Assistance Available for Training of Visual Disabilities Professionals with Social Justice Focus

Thanks to federal grant funding of $2.5 million, 80 graduate students will be able to pursue master’s degrees in fields related to visual disabilities at NIU (Northern Illinois University) with a focus on social justice and diversity. “Anyone, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or creed, can face a lifetime of limited vision or no sight at all.” Students who receive the funding through the U.S. Department of Education will attend the NIU College of Education’s Visual Disabilities program, which has been preparing professionals for 60 years. This new support, through ”Project Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion,” will also provide students with a “heightened understanding of, and best practices for, diversity.” The program will provide the “necessary knowledge and skills (of their professions) while also emphasizing concepts of belonging” in course curricula. NIU offers specialties in Teacher of the Visually Impaired (TVI) and Orientation and Mobility (O&M). NIU also offers the nation’s first academic program dedicated to preparation in using assistive technology for people who are blind or who have low vision. Recruitment for the program’s launch in Fall 2024 will “prioritize enrolling applicants from diverse backgrounds and from communities of color to enhance the workforce.” All students will receive financial aid packages that include full tuition (in-state or out-of-state) and fees, health insurance, and $9,500 each year for living expenses. The grant funding is available to students who have been fully admitted to the NIU Graduate School and are U.S. citizens. For more information about the project, read news release reporting that NIU receives $2.5 million to provide financial assistance to train 80 Visual Disabilities professionals with social justice focus.