2020 Conference

Finding and Training Professionals: Connecting to University Personnel Preparation Programs

Session Date: 
Tuesday, September 1, 2020 - 12:00 pm to 2:30 pm CDT


This session featured six of the university programs providing personnel preparation for professionals in the field. Universities briefly explained the programs offered (O&M, VRT, etc.), length of programs, and if long-term training grants are funded by RSA to support students. Download the questions and answers from the live Q&A here. Questions addressed include:

  1. What is the time commitment and format of your programs?
  2. After internships, how can students find support or mentors?
  3. What are the qualifications for CATIS?


Edward Bell

Edward Bell

Email: ebell@pdrib.com

Dr. Edward Bell is the director of the Professional Development and Research Institute on Blindness at Louisiana Tech University and has held this position since 2005. He has extensive experience in the area of rehabilitation for the blind and visually impaired.  He has presented widely throughout the United States and Europe.  Dr. Bell has earned degrees in Rehabilitation Education and Research, Educational Psychology, and Human Development. In addition, he also possesses certification in educational statistics and research methods, rehabilitation counseling, and orientation and mobility.

He is also the Secretary/Treasurer of the National Blindness Professional Certification Board (NBPCB), which provides professional credentials in the area of orientation and mobility, braille, and rehabilitation teaching.
His research interests include descriptive and predictive models of education and rehabilitation as they relate to the successful independence of persons who are blind. He has researched in the area of attitudes and expectations about blindness and the development of reading media and mobility assessments. 

Laura Bozeman

Laura Bozeman sitting in a chair

Email: laura.bozeman@umb.edu

Dr. Laura Bozeman is the Director of the Vision Studies program in the School for Global Inclusion and Social Development at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. She entered the vision profession in 1974 as an Orientation & Mobility Specialist in Texas. After working in direct service for 20 years, she received her master and doctoral degrees from the University of Texas-Austin. Dr. Bozeman has served as a faculty at the University of Texas-Austin, North Carolina Central University, Massey University, Auckland, New Zealand, and UMass-Boston. She has worked with all ages and taught in Taiwan, China, Australia, New Zealand, Guam, American Samoa, Micronesia, Puerto Rico, and other areas of the US.

Dr. Bozeman has been involved with the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AERBVI) on the Chapter, Division, and International levels for many years. She has served multiple terms on the international and chapter boards of directors as well as the chair of divisions and committees.

Dr. Bozeman serves on the Editorial Board for the Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness (JVIB) and as a reviewer for JVIB, Insight: Research and Practice in Visual Impairment and Blindness, International Journal of Orientation and Mobility (IJOM) as well as the Blasch Scholarship awards. She is currently Co-Chair of the Subject Matter Expert Committee: O&M and a board member for ACVREP.

Dr. Bozeman holds a certification in orientation & mobility, low vision, and was licensed as a teacher of students with visual impairment.

Elyse Connors

Elyse Connors

Email: elyse.m.connors@wmich.edu

Dr. Elyse Connors is the program advisor for the VRT program at Western Michigan University. Elyse is certified in VRT and O&M, and has her doctoral degree in Interdisciplinary Health Sciences. Her research interests lie in current job tasks of VRTs, safer medication management for persons with vision loss, and recruitment.

Stacy Kelly

Stacy Kelly

Email: skelly@niu.edu

Dr. Stacy Kelly, Ed.D., TVI, COMS, CATIS is a professor in the Visual Disabilities Program at Northern Illinois University. She is the Project Director for several federal grants from the US Department of Education, including RSA CFDA #84.129P personnel preparation grant.

Lachelle Smith

Lachelle Smith

Email: lasmith@salus.edu

Lachelle Smith is currently an Assistant Professor and Program Director of the Professional Preparation Program for Vision Rehabilitation Therapy in the College of Health Sciences, Education and Rehabilitation, Department of Blindness and Low Vision Studies at Salus University.  She is also the founder and sole proprietor of InSights Vision Rehabilitation Services; the practice consisting of clients referred from State, non-profit agencies, and private clientele who seeks her trademark holistic approach to rehabilitation services. Lachelle continues to operate in her practice while teaching at Salus ensuring to bring pragmatic experience to the classroom.  In addition, Lachelle is the founder and president of Blind Blessings, Inc., a 501(c) 3, not-for-profit organization created to meet the vision rehabilitation and spiritual needs of those seeking vision rehabilitation services. 

Lachelle is a 2003 PCO alum (now Salus University) graduating with a M.S. in Vision Rehabilitation Therapy while achieving the highest honors possible.  She holds her certification in Vision Rehabilitation Therapy through ACVREP. Lachelle is committed to the advancement of all individuals who live with disabilities and dedicates her time to serving on Boards and Committees that share that vision including, ACVREP Board of Directors [Past member], VRT SME, Penn-Del AER, AER Recruitment and Retention Committee, [Past member], and Association of Vision Rehabilitation Therapists (AVRT) Board of Directors to name a few.  She is enthusiastic about the opportunities available to her in making a difference in the lives of those she serves, whether in the vision rehabilitation field or in the classroom.

Sylvia Perez

Sylvia Perez

Email: sperez@colled.msstate.edu

Sylvia Stinson-Perez is the Director of the Older Individuals who are Blind Technical Assistance Center (OIB-TAC) and the Vision Specialist graduate certificate program at the National Research and Training Center on Blindness and Low Vision at Mississippi State University. She has over 20 years in the field of blindness. Prior to joining the NRTC in 2019, she was the Executive Director/CEO of the Lighthouse for the Visually Impaired and Blind in New Port Richey, Florida, from 2008 to 2018.

Sylvia earned Master’s degrees in Social Work and Visual Disabilities Rehabilitation from Florida State University, and in Business Administration from Saint Leo University. She is a Certified Vision Rehabilitation Therapist through ACVRE.

Additional Session Information:

  1. New Opportunities for Careers in Rehabilitation of the Blind - More information about the Professional Development and Research Institute on Blindness at Louisiana Tech University about degrees from Louisana Tech University
  2. You Can Change What It Means to be Blind - Flyer from the Professional Development and Research Institute on Blindness at Louisiana Tech University
  3. Orientation and Mobility Factsheet - More information about Master of Education (MEd) in Vision Studies degree from UMass Boston (Orientation and Mobility)
  4. Vision Studies Program - More information about the Master of Education (MEd) in Vision Studies degree from UMass Boston
  5. VRT Factsheet - More information about the Master of Education (MEd) in Vision Studies degree from UMass Boston (Vision Rehabilitation Therapy)
  6. Assistive Technology for Individuals with Blindness and Vision Impairment - More information from Western Michigan University
  7. Orientation and Mobility for Adults - More information from Western Michigan University (Orientation and Mobility)
  8. Vision Rehabilitation Therapy - More information from Western Michigan University (Vision Rehabilitation Therapy)
  9. VRT and O&M Programs Handout - More information on VRT and O&M programs at Northern Illinois University
  10. Pathways to Certification - More information on how to become certified