VKC partners with TN School for the Blind, Peabody College Program in Visual Disabilities to host TN VIVA virtual lecture series

Young African-American man reading braille while studying in school library

The Vanderbilt Kennedy Center’s University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (VKC UCEDD) has joined the Tennessee School for the Blind and the Peabody College Program in Visual Disabilities within Vanderbilt University’s Department of Special Education to host the newly renamed Tennessee Visual Impairments Virtual Academy (TN VIVA) lecture series.

Formerly known as the Unity Virtual Academy, TN VIVA is an established professional development learning series for all school educators, community stakeholders, and families looking to learn about best practices, supports, and resources for students with visual impairments (blindness, low vision, and deafblindness).

“Our UCEDD is delighted to partner with Dr. Rachel Schles, the Tennessee School for the Blind, and Peabody College to offer the new TN VIVA series,” said Elise McMillan, J.D., VKC UCEDD co-director. “This is an important addition to our lineup of education offerings for Tennessee educators, providers, students, families, and the community. We know how important it is to share best practices and resources for students with visual impairments.”

Participation is open to all, but the target audience for the TN VIVA series includes:

  • Teachers of students with visual impairments (TVI)
  • Orientation & mobility (O&M) specialists
  • Parents of a child with a visual impairment
  • Students with a visual impairment
  • Classroom teachers
  • Related service providers
  • Vocational rehabilitation counselors
  • Early intervention providers
  • School administrators
  • Medical professionals

Attendees can earn ACVREP professional development credits or a general certificate of attendance to use towards renewal of their teaching license.

“I am very excited to be partnering with the VKC, alongside our existing partnership with the Vanderbilt University Program in Visual Disabilities, in our third year of the Tennessee Visual Impairments Virtual Academy,” said Allen Huang, M.Ed., CTVI, CATIS, director of Accessible Instructional Materials and Outreach Services at the Tennessee School for the Blind Resource Center for the Visually Impaired. “TN VIVA was developed during the COVID-19 pandemic out of a recognition that teachers of students with visual impairments in Tennessee needed more accessible, virtual professional development opportunities. Thanks to the VKC’s resources and experience conducting similar professional learning series, our new partnership will allow us to more sustainably hold our virtual sessions for the foreseeable future and also expand our reach to individuals who may benefit from our programming.”

Rachel Schles smiling

Rachel Schles, Ph.D., TVI

“Our partnership with VKC will expand the reach of the TN VIVA events,” added Rachel Schles, Ph.D., TVI, assistant professor of the Practice and coordinator of Peabody College’s Visual Disabilities Program. “By collaborating with VKC, we can share resources with a wide range of professionals who otherwise might not have access to current resources on how to best support students with visual impairments or deafblindness and their families.”

For more information about the TN VIVA series, including registration links for upcoming meetings, visit https://vkc.vumc.org/vkc/TN-VIVA/. For more information, contact Rachel Schles or Allen Huang.

Top photo by Getty Images

Giving Banner

This is a monthly email of Vanderbilt Kennedy Center Notables published by the Communications staff of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center. Between issues of Notables, you can stay up to date on the latest Vanderbilt Kennedy Center news, information, and resources via the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center’s Facebook page.