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Visual Impairment Grant: Preparing Highly Qualified Personnel to Serve Children

Initially funded in the fall of 2008 by the U.S. Department of Education, the chief mission of the Preparing Highly Qualified Personnel to Serve Children with Visual Impairment Grant is to significantly increase the number of highly qualified, certified teachers of students with visual impairments in South Carolina. The situation in South Carolina is especially critical as an estimated 50 percent of certified teachers of students with visual impairments are expected to retire within the next three to five years.

The grant will be administered over a four-year period, and the majority of the total grant funding will be devoted to underwriting course tuition, fees, and textbook costs for qualified individuals to obtain their master’s degree in visual impairment or complete coursework necessary for add-on certification in visual impairment. This is the absolute priority of the grant as financial need, rather than lack of interest, is a significant factor regarding the current shortage of qualified teachers of students with visual impairments. The grant will also provide new braillewriters, updated assistive technology, statewide professional development opportunities and mentoring for new teachers of students with visual impairments.