Vision Rehabilitation Program at Salus University
Overview of Our ProgramThe Vision Rehabilitation Therapy (VRT) Program at Salus University (formerly the Pennsylvania College of Optometry) has offered a Master’s-level degree and Certificate since 1991. The VRT Program (formerly known as Rehabilitation Teaching) was originally developed and directed by Maureen A. Duffy, M.S., CVRT. The VRT program prepares students to provide comprehensive vision rehabilitation therapy services to adults who are blind or visually impaired. The program provides the course work and supervised field experiences that are required for Vision Rehabilitation Therapist certification by the Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals (ACVREP). The VRT Program at Salus has two tracks: a Master’s-level degree and a Certificate program. The Master’s-level degree is for those individuals seeking a comprehensive introduction to the VRT profession, who may — or may not — have previous experience in this field or a related field. The Certificate program is intended for other vision rehabilitation professionals who desire additional knowledge and training in VRT-specific subject areas. The Master’s-level degree requires 44.5 credits; the Certificate Program requires 41.5. Currently, both program tracks are offered in a part-time format, due to course sequencing (i.e., some courses are only offered every other year). Courses are offered through two learning platforms: distance education (web-based learning) and on-campus (face-to-face and hands-on learning).
Program FacultyThe Program Director for the VRT Program is Lachelle Smith, M.S., CVRT. In addition to Ms. Smith, the VRT Program also employs the talents of certified and experienced Adjuncts who are known for their expertise in the profession, including Dr. Audrey Smith, Maureen A. Duffy, M.S., CVRT, Debra Sokol-McKay, M.S.,, and Stephanie Stephens Van, M.S., CVRT, CLVT.
VRT Graduation RequirementsStudents must comply with all VRT Program coursework and activities, with good academic standing and successfully pass the VRT comprehensive exam (for Master’s students only) to successfully graduate from the program. In addition, students are expected to pursue national certification in VRT upon program completion through ACVREP. At the completion of our VRT program, students will meet the necessary requirements to sit for the ACVREP certification exam in VRT.
Salus Program HighlightsVRT students receive extensive, hands-on instructional experience and practice in independent living skills during the summer residency. In addition, our students are provided with opportunities to visit and participate in blind/visually impaired-related service sites and cultural activities, including as touring the Free Library for the Blind in Philadelphia, touring and participating in the Philadelphia Art Museum Accessibility Arts Program, and attending a “Dining in the Dark” activity at a local restaurant. Salus VRT students graduate with a minimum of 500 hours of discipline-specific practicum experience and are exposed to multi-disciplinary learning in the Low Vision Rehabilitation, Orientation and Mobility, and Teachers of Children with Visual and Multiple Disabilities programs, which prepares them to serve a broad spectrum of learners (clients, consumers, and patients). Our VRT students are also provided with the opportunity to engage and connect with the local blind and visually impaired community through participation in conferences, seminars, and VRT-specific workshops at local senior living communities and summer independent living camps for transitional-age children living with vision impairments. Approximately 90 percent of our graduates are offered permanent employment by the end of the internship experience, which is a testament to their knowledge, skills, and abilities. Many of these graduates find employment in a variety of professional environments including, but not limited, to:
- State agencies for the blind
- Private (non-profit and for-profit) blind rehabilitation agencies
- Federal Veterans’ Administration facilities
- Independent contracting through state/federal/private agencies serving individuals with vision impairment