Carroll Center for the Blind Seeks to Ease Nationwide Shortage of Vision Educators

The Gibney Family Foundation to Provide Funding for Internship Program

NEWTON, Mass. (May 21, 2018)The Carroll Center for the Blind today announced the launch of the Carroll Interns program, a new initiative designed to provide vital experience to graduate-level students studying in the field of vision education and allied professions.  The program is generously supported by a three-year, $120,000 grant from The Gibney Family Foundation, which focuses on sustainable solutions for independence for those who are blind.

Carroll Interns will provide key training and assist with the placement of vision educators whose ranks have declined even as the population of individuals who are blind or have low vision increases.  According to industry associations, the nation faces a severe shortage of teachers of students with visual impairments, or TVIs, as well as orientation and mobility instructors. The Carroll Center often must turn away requests from schools for vision services because it lacks adequate educational staff to meet the need.

“Our goal with Carroll Interns is to create a pipeline of skilled vision educators, who are in great demand by schools to provide direct services to students with vision loss,” said Gregory J. Donnelly, president and CEO of the Carroll Center for the Blind.  “We are grateful for The Gibney Family Foundation’s support for this new program, which will provide university scholars with the essential experience and knowledge to prepare them for community-based services.”

The Carroll Center has appointed Stephanie Chmielinski as the coordinator of Carroll Interns.  Chmielinski has over 25 years of experience teaching orientation and mobility to children with visual impairments.  She will manage the program’s launch and operation, recruitment of interns, and job placements for graduates.  Interns will have access to the expertise of 45 vision rehabilitation professionals employed by the Carroll Center, and will be supervised by staff based on their chosen areas of training.

Spanning over 20 years, the Gibney Family Foundation has partnered with the Carroll Center for the Blind on many critical programs and services that make an impact on the lives of the blind and visually impaired.  The foundation has pledged $40,000 annually for three years to support the Carroll Interns program.

“We are so pleased to work together to develop the Carroll Interns program,” said Frank Gibney, founding member of the Gibney Family Foundation.  “We collaborated to identify the needs of the Carroll Center that would also have a national impact with more effective solutions. The Carroll Interns program will recruit and train our future blindness and allied professionals and then support and sustain those professionals, thereby making strong progress to resolve the national shortage of vison educators.  We are proud to help fund this program, which resonates so deeply with our mission.”

As many as 10 interns will participate each year in the campus-based program.  Upon completion of the internship, participants will have one-year paid service obligation at the Carroll Center or at other nonprofit agencies who need vision professionals with expanded practice experience.

Professionals who specialize in visual impairment attend university preparation programs and are required to participate in internships before they can be eligible for certification or licensure.  The Carroll Center is partnering with several higher education institutions that offer visual education and related programs, including the University of Massachusetts Boston, Florida State University and Northern Illinois University.