Vision Studies Program Celebrates 50th Anniversary

by John Conroy

Evelyn Curry-Rumph, [Professor Emeritus] Ralph Peabody, and Sue Patrick at the 25th program anniversary celebration in 1988.
Students from a 2013 O&M class: Tasia Mitchell, Kelly Parks, Amy Weimer, [Program Coordinator and Associate Professor] George J. Zimmerman, Amanda Bellisario, and Angela Wynn.

The Vision Studies Program at the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) is beginning its 50th year of preparing teachers of students with visual impairment, orientation and mobility (O&M) specialists, and doctoral leadership personnel, making it one of the longest running special education personnel and leadership preparation programs in the U.S. The program, which began in the fall of 1963 through the leadership of Ralph L. Peabody, professor emeritus, has prepared highly specialized teachers and O&M specialists to serve the education and rehabilitation needs of children and adults who are blind or visually impaired nationwide.

 “Pitt's personnel and leadership preparation program has fostered leaders in the field of blindness and visual impairment in all capacities of service, leadership, and research,” said George J. Zimmerman, associate professor and coordinator of the Vision Studies program.

“Graduates have developed and enriched educational programs and practices; become leaders in the field; are authors and editors of respected publications; and also have established the need for ongoing research in the field as well as forging the agenda to address that need,” said Debby Holzapfel, retired educational consultant of the Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance Network.

Photos from left to right of Pitt student teachers and O&M interns: A former Pitt student under sleepshade experiencing travel with a dog guide; a Pitt student intern providing community-based travel instruction; teaching a student who is totally blind to use a BrailleNote; and teaching a student with low vision to use magnification software.

In addition, a committee is currently planning to design and have a stone installed at the American Printing House for the Blind (APH) Hall of Fame for leaders and legends of the blindness field in Louisville. The plan is to purchase a stone plaque with an etching of the Cathedral of Learning and some accompanying text and have it installed by the APH Annual Meeting on October 17.

To contribute to the stone campaign, visit If you have any questions contact Kathy Huebner, Salus University professor emeritus, at