Project VIABLE: Visual Impairment and Applied Behavior Learning Experiences

Funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP)
Grant #: H325K190055

 

Program Description: Faculty members in the College of Education, Department of Curriculum and Instruction earned a grant from the Department of Education to support their ongoing efforts to train high-quality professionals. The goal of this project is to increase the number of graduate-level and fully credentialed teachers of students with visual impairments (TVI) and Board Certified Behavior Analysts® (BCBA®) who have been trained interdisciplinarily to work with students with high-intensity needs, including students with visual impairments and deafblindness. The state of Alabama currently has a shortage of TVIs and BCBAs even though the number of students with high-intensity needs is gradually increasing. The scholars in the TVI program of the project will not only learn the competencies to use evidence-based practices to support students with visual impairments but also complete the coursework and share experiences in applied behavior analysis (ABA). At the same time, the scholars in the ABA program will complete the ABA coursework but will also be provided collaborative training to work with the often-overlooked populations of students with visual impairments, blindness, and deaf blindness. The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) is uniquely positioned to become a leader in both programs within the state of Alabama as they house the only TVI program and one of three ABA programs in the state.

Project Benefits: 

Participants will be provided the following benefits:

  • Tuition and fees for all courses will be paid for by the project;
  • Opportunities for participation in state-level conferences paid for by the project;
  • Monthly webinars with leading educators and researchers on various topics;
  • Possible ALSDE Class A certification in Visual Impairments and/or BCBA certification*;
  • Learning evidenced-based practices to work with students with high-intensity needs, including students with visual impairments and deafblindness;
  • Learning in an collaborative, inter-disciplinary community of learners.

Program Options

There are two paths that students may choose from when applying to the program.

Path 1: M.Ed. Visual Impairments

In path 1, students can apply to be admitted to the M.Ed.-VI Concentration program. This would allow students to earn an M.Ed. Students will complete 6 VI courses and 7 ABA courses. When students are finished, they can apply for an ALSDE Class A Teaching Certificate in Visual Impairments (P-12), and, if students complete the clinical hours (1500 hours), they could sit for the BCBA exam.

  • Students are NOT required to complete the clinical hours or take the BCBA Certification exam but it is an option.
Path 1: Degree Requirements

EDC 654: Introduction to Braille Literacy

Focused exploration of braille, braille literacy, and braille assessment

EDC 656: Programs for Students with Visual Impairments and Multiple Disabilities/Deafblind

Intensive examination of curricular adaptations, assessment, and intervention for students with multiple disabilities and visual impairments or deafblindness

EDC 657: Advanced Braille and Assistive Technology

Focused exploration of the advanced braille for use in various contexts (STEM, music, foreign language), assistive technology and STEM education for students with visual impairments. Prerequisite: EDC 654.

EDC 551: Foundations of Visual Impairments

Introduction to academic language found within the profession of special education of students with visual impairments. Examines standards, organizations, programs, and services for students with visual impairments. Studies the basic anatomy, diseases, and disorders of the visual system.

EDC 652: Introduction to Orientation and Mobility

Examines the psychosocial implications of blindness, with a particular focus on independence. Exploration of basic orientation mobility concepts including human guide and basic independent travel through the use of verbal description and tactile graphics. 

EDC 653: Practicum for Teaching Students with Visual Impairments

Examines the strategies used to make education accessible to students with visual impairments through the creation of high-quality accommodations and/or modifications. Topics include organization, assessment, early intervention, and the expanded core curriculum.  

EDC 610: Behavioral Assessment

This course will provide an introduction to the strategies, methods, and ethics associated with behavioral assessment. The defining characteristics, strengths, and weaknesses of indirect assessments, descriptive assessments, and functional analysis will be reviewed. Students will learn to differentiate between and implement each type of assessment method. Assessment data collection, analysis, and interpretation will be discussed in the context of identifying appropriate behavioral interventions and goals.

EDC 611: Ethics and Professionalism in Applied Behavior Analysis

This course will familiarize the student with ethical and professional responsibilities for Board Certified Behavior Analysts. Ethical decision-making processes will be emphasized with respect to the ethical guidelines set forth by the BACB©, and the relationship between ethics, policy, and law will be explored.

EDC 612: Fundamentals of Applied Behavior Analysis I

This course will introduce students to the basic concepts and principles of behavior analysis including, but not limited to, respondent and operant conditioning, reinforcement and punishment contingencies, schedules of reinforcement, extinction, motivating operations, and automatically and socially mediated consequences. The concepts and principles will be discussed with respect to how they are relevant to socially significant behavior.

EDC 613: Fundamentals of Applied Behavior Analysis II

This course will incorporate and elaborate on the content from EDC 612. Students will also describe and explain behavior from the perspective of radical behaviorism and distinguish among behaviorism, the experimental analysis of behavior, applied behavior analysis, and professional practice guided by the science of behavior analysis. Students will be able to define and provide examples of more complex concepts and principles such as stimulus control, discrimination, generalization, verbal operants, and derived stimulus relations.

EDC 614: Research Methods in Applied Behavior Analysis

The purpose of this course is to introduce students to the fundamentals of behavior analytic research methods. The course will examine the strategies and tactics used in single-subject research to implement socially important behavior change.

EDC 615: Interventions in Applied Behavior Analysis

This course will prepare students to identify and implement effective, data-based behavior-change procedures and interventions in applied settings. Elements of behavior change and procedures to accomplish behavior increases, decreases, generalization, and maintenance will be examined. Emphasis will be placed on reinforcement, schedules of reinforcement, extinction, and alternate treatment procedures. This course will also examine strategies to promote generalization, prompting strategies, teaching self-management, group-oriented contingencies, shaping techniques, behavior chains, motivational systems, punishment, and other topics. Students will learn how to select and implement function-based interventions for the reduction of problem behaviors and skills-based prevention strategies.

EDC 616: Supervision and Management in Applied Behavior Analysis

This course will prepare students to conduct supervision using the principles of behavior analysis. Students will develop performance expectations based on the context, select individualized, assessment–based goals to develop supervisee skills, develop function-based strategies to improve supervisee performance, and design staff training procedures based on behavior analytic research.

 

Path 2: M.S. in Applied Behavior Analysis

In path 2, students can apply to be admitted to the M.S. in ABA program. This would allow students to earn an M.S. Students will complete the 7 ABA courses, 1 course in ASD, and 4 VI courses. Students would graduate with an M.S. in ABA, and, when they complete the 1500 clinical hours, they could sit for the BCBA exam.

  • *Student will NOT be eligible to apply for an ALSDE Class A teaching certificate in VI with this path.
Path 2: Degree Requirements

EDC 610: Behavioral Assessment

This course will provide an introduction to the strategies, methods, and ethics associated with behavioral assessment. The defining characteristics, strengths, and weaknesses of indirect assessments, descriptive assessments, and functional analysis will be reviewed. Students will learn to differentiate between and implement each type of assessment method. Assessment data collection, analysis, and interpretation will be discussed in the context of identifying appropriate behavioral interventions and goals.

EDC 611: Ethics and Professionalism in Applied Behavior Analysis

This course will familiarize the student with ethical and professional responsibilities for Board Certified Behavior Analysts. Ethical decision-making processes will be emphasized with respect to the ethical guidelines set forth by the BACB©, and the relationship between ethics, policy, and law will be explored.

EDC 612: Fundamentals of Applied Behavior Analysis I

This course will introduce students to the basic concepts and principles of behavior analysis including, but not limited to, respondent and operant conditioning, reinforcement and punishment contingencies, schedules of reinforcement, extinction, motivating operations, and automatically and socially mediated consequences. The concepts and principles will be discussed with respect to how they are relevant to socially significant behavior.

EDC 613: Fundamentals of Applied Behavior Analysis II

This course will incorporate and elaborate on the content from EDC 612. Students will also describe and explain behavior from the perspective of radical behaviorism and distinguish among behaviorism, the experimental analysis of behavior, applied behavior analysis, and professional practice guided by the science of behavior analysis. Students will be able to define and provide examples of more complex concepts and principles such as stimulus control, discrimination, generalization, verbal operants, and derived stimulus relations.

EDC 614: Research Methods in Applied Behavior Analysis

The purpose of this course is to introduce students to the fundamentals of behavior analytic research methods. The course will examine the strategies and tactics used in single-subject research to implement socially important behavior change.

EDC 615: Interventions in Applied Behavior Analysis

This course will prepare students to identify and implement effective, data-based behavior-change procedures and interventions in applied settings. Elements of behavior change and procedures to accomplish behavior increases, decreases, generalization, and maintenance will be examined. Emphasis will be placed on reinforcement, schedules of reinforcement, extinction, and alternate treatment procedures. This course will also examine strategies to promote generalization, prompting strategies, teaching self-management, group-oriented contingencies, shaping techniques, behavior chains, motivational systems, punishment, and other topics. Students will learn how to select and implement function-based interventions for the reduction of problem behaviors and skills-based prevention strategies.

EDC 616: Supervision and Management in Applied Behavior Analysis

This course will prepare students to conduct supervision using the principles of behavior analysis. Students will develop performance expectations based on the context, select individualized, assessment–based goals to develop supervisee skills, develop function-based strategies to improve supervisee performance, and design staff training procedures based on behavior analytic research.

EDC 636: Introduction to Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Students will develop an understanding of the range of characteristics and behaviors associated with ASD, the effects of early intervention on behaviors, and the theories regarding the etiology of the disorder. A review of the law and rights of parents as well as issues regarding service and specialized programs are included.

EDC 551: Foundations of Visual Impairments

Introduction to academic language found within the profession of special education of students with visual impairments. Examines standards, organizations, programs, and services for students with visual impairments. Studies the basic anatomy, diseases, and disorders of the visual system. 

EDC 653: Practicum for Teaching Students with Visual Impairments

Examines the strategies used to make education accessible to students with visual impairments through the creation of high-quality accommodations and/or modifications. Topics include organization, assessment, early intervention, and the expanded core curriculum.  

EDC 654: Introduction to Braille Literacy

Focused exploration of braille, braille literacy, and braille assessment.

EDC 656: Programs for Students with Visual Impairments and Multiple Disabilities/Deafblind

Intensive examination of curricular adaptations, assessment, and intervention for students with multiple disabilities and visual impairments or deafblindness.

 

Program Requirements: This program is available to residents of the state of Alabama only. Upon graduating from either program, students must fulfill the service obligation required by the grant. As required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) of 2004, individuals accepting scholarship assistance through this grant funding will be required to complete the service obligation requirement of two years of full-time employment for each academic year in which scholarship assistance is received, or repay all or part of the costs of such assistance, in accordance with Section 673(h) of IDEA. Both the institution and the recipient will comply with all regulations of this requirement and ensure that each scholar meets all requirements outlined in 34 CFR 304.23. The project will obtain a Certification of Eligibility for Federal Assistance from each scholar. Each student who receives support from this grant will sign a Pre-Scholarship Agreement prior to receipt of a scholarship, and an Exit Certification immediately upon the scholar exiting the program. The project will meet the statutory requirements in section 662(h) through (h) in IDEA.

 

Application Requirements:

  • Candidates must have earned a bachelor's or higher degree from a regionally accredited institution.
  • A minimum grade-point average of 3.0 on the undergraduate record, and
  • A minimum GRE score of 300 (combined verbal and quantitative, with no scores below 150), or a score of 410 on the Miller Analogies Test (MAT).
  • TOEFL or IELTS (for non-native English speakers only):
    1. TOEFL (iBT): all sub-scores greater than or equal to 18 OR
    2. IELTS: all sub-scores greater than or equal to 6.0
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • A personal statement describing why you are interested in the project and what you could contribute to the project
  • An essay describing how you envision

 

Students must contact Dr. Derrick Smith dws0009@uah.edu if interested in applying to the program.