The project began after a few of us had participated in the Lighthouse CVI call for parents. We wanted to offer something comparable for TVI’s (and other professionals). Our goal was to create a site where TVI’s could learn about CVI, ask questions, and support each other in a judgement free zone. We wanted to keep it free, practical, and readily available, knowing how much work everyone has to do. Perkins stepped in and graciously offered us a platform. CVI for the TVI was born.

There are currently nine of us who are producing this monthly webinar series. This is who we are:

Dawn Anderson, PhD, COMS
Chair of Blindness and Low Vision Studies, Western Michigan University

Dr. Dawn Anderson is the Chair of Blindness and Low Vision Studies at WMU. She is PI with Rob Wall on a 2.5-million-dollar study for OSEP to expand the knowledge and skills in the area of brain based visual impairment across 7 states and a 1.5-million-dollar personnel preparation grant also from OSEP to increase the number and quality of TVIS and O&M Specialists with children. She also coordinates the Michigan Department of Education’s MI VI Consortium, which provides full tuition to MI teachers seeking to add a VI endorsement to their teaching license. Her research interests include validity and reliability testing of assessment tools and interventions, assessment tool creation, access to curriculum and assessment for individuals with visual impairment and the alternate techniques used by individuals with sensory impairments to effectively teach O&M. She earned a PhD in interdisciplinary Sciences from WMU. She holds certifications in Orientation & Mobility, Teacher of Children with Visual Impairment, Mental Impairment, Montessori Assistance to Infancy and Neurological Visual Impairment in Children. Her K-12 teaching experience includes 25 years at the Wisconsin School for the Visually Handicapped, across a Local Education Agency and at a Charter School.

Emily Cantillon, M.A
Certified Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Lead CVI Teacher, Perkins School for the Blind

Emily Cantillon is a Certified Teacher of the Visually Impaired at Perkins School for the Blind and the Cortical/Cerebral Visual Impairment (CVI) Lead Teacher for Community Programs at Perkins. She was first introduced to CVI when shadowing her mother at work as an SLP. It was presented to her as a visual impairment with the potential to improve over time. From then, she was hooked. Aside from providing accessible learning opportunities to all her students, Emily’s goal is to teach and spread awareness around CVI while learning from others. Emily practices this mentality by teaching for Perkin’s eLearning CVI courses, presenting at conferences around the country, and providing international Professional Development trainings. Her passion for CVI has led her to pursue a Ph.D. in Special Education with a focus on CVI at the University of Northern Colorado. Emily’s extensive research interests stem around the educational practices and access for students with Cortical/Cerebral Visual Impairment.

Elise Darrow, TSVI, O&M
CVI Initiative Manager, Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments, and Orientation and Mobility Specialist, Anchor Center for Blind Children

Elise Darrow is the Cortical Visual Impairment Initiative Manager, a teacher of students with visual impairments, and Orientation and Mobility Specialist at Anchor Center for Blind Children in Denver, Colorado. She has worked in the field for eight years and has most recently focused on working with young children with visual impairments. She will begin her studies in a doctoral program in January 2022 in special education with an emphasis on visual impairment.

Elizabeth (Bess) Dennison, M.Ed 
Director, Utah State University
Teacher of the Visually Impaired

I have been working in the field of early childhood vision impairment for over 40 years. I have my Masters in Education of the blind and visually impaired from the University of Northern Colorado.  I have worked for most of those years, splitting my time between the Utah School for the Blind and the VIISA and INSITE Outreach training projects at Utah State University. 

I have kept one foot in direct service to families of young children who are visually impaired and the other foot in developing training materials as well as conducting training in the field of preschool vision across the country. My interest in CVI started many years ago through the young children I was serving.  Dr. Lea Hyvarinen sparked this interest further when I brought her to Utah to film a series of lectures on CVI.  This was broadcasted nationwide and to other countries around the world.  It led to the first summit on CVI in San Francisco where experts from around the world came together in person and by distance to discuss their various perspectives on CVI. A couple years later I worked with AER to bring Dr. Gordon Dutton to present on CVI at the national conference held in Utah over the summer.  I have continued to learn from experts in the field, applied what I have learned with the children I serve, and share information on CVI through the VIISA and INSITE trainings that take place every year.  This year is a new challenge training via ZOOM due to COVID in states such as IN, MO, and VA.  The need for information and training on CVI in the field continues to grow.

Melody Furze, Ph.D.
Certified Teacher of the Visually Impaired, The Anchor Center for Blind Children
Co-Founder, Neurological Visual Impairment Division (NVID) of AER

Melody Furze, Ph.D., is a Certified Teacher of the Visually Impaired who provides services for students who have been diagnosed with or are at risk for Cerebral Visual Impairment. She is a founding member of the Neurological Visual Impairment Division (NVID) of AER and a consultant for projects on CVI research and development.

Peggy Palmer, M.A. CTVI 
Preschool: birth – five years
Board of Education and Services for the Blind (ret), Connecticut 

Peg Palmer is a Certified Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments who worked with young children for over 30 years in Connecticut at the Bureau of Education and Services for the Blind (BESB). Her strong interest in the intersection of visual impairments and child development launched her career.

As a new teacher, children with brain-based visual impairment began to make up a large part of her caseload. Working and studying with colleagues from a variety of perspectives (child development, neuro-science, vision loss professionals, optometry and opthamology), awareness of CVI began to emerge.

As she became more focused on CVI and implications of CVI on learning, Peg’s work expanded to outreach to others in related fields by providing workshops and lectures on CVI.

Peg is now retired from BESB and currently mentors special education teachers on CVI and CREC.

Peg was a founder of the “CVI for the TVI” webinar series through Perkins eLearning and sits on the CVI for the TVI steering committee.

Peg was honored by her NE/AER colleagues in 2021 with Father Carroll Award for her work on CVI.

Tammy Reisman, TVI, CAES
Coordinator for the Vision Studies Program, UMass Boston
Teacher of the Visually Impaired

Tammy Reisman brings a strong background in education of students with vision impairments, as well as highly developed writing and teaching skills, to her role as the Teacher of Students with Vision Impairments (TVI) program coordinator in the Vision Studies program at the School for Global Inclusion and Social Development. Her responsibilities include student advising, Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) licensure coordination, and serving as a liaison between SGISD Vision Studies and the College of Education and Human Development licensing office at UMass Boston.

Reisman also networks to secure practicum sites, supervises practicum students in their placements, supports state liaisons throughout New England, and teaches three courses in the Vision Studies program. In addition, she helps to coordinate the DESE summer institutes.

When not coordinating the TVI teacher preparation program, Reisman works as a teacher of students with visual impairments in the Newton Public Schools. She works with students in preschool through post-secondary, and has formed a partnership between the Newton Public Schools and UMass Boston’s Vision Studies program that provides practicum experiences for students.

Burju Sari, M.Ed., TVI
CVI Coordinator, CVI Center at Perkins

Burju Sari is a CVI Coordinator at the CVI Center at Perkins School for the Blind, where she collaborates with school teams and families, leads CVI training for teams and professionals, conducts assessments, and supports the implementation of educational programming for students with CVI. For the past 6 years, Burju worked as an itinerant TVI in the Community Programs at Perkins. Burju received her MBA certificate at Salem State University and Master’s in Education for Teaching Students with Visual Impairment at UMass Boston. She has developed and led training about CVI and low vision, both locally and in Europe, for families and professionals. Burju has a child with special needs and CVI who has been an impetus for her achievements in supporting, educating, and advocating for students, families, and educators.

Mary Zatta, Ph.D. 
Director of Professional Development, Perkins School for the Blind 

I first became aware of CVI when I was an administrator in the Deafblind Program at Perkins in 2000.  I have to admit that at the time I really did not understand the significant impact of CVI and/or the potential for improvement.  Dr. Roman-Lantzy did provide some trainings at that time with the support of the New England Consortium of Deafblind Projects under the leadership of Dr. Tracy Evans-Luiselli for the staff in the DB program and, at the time, I thought we had all the information we needed! 

Well… I know better!  Since moving into my current position as Director of Perkins eLearning and the Perkins Training Center in 2010 I have seen first hand the desperate need for training that teachers and related service providers have in this area.  It has become clear to me that the development of expertise in CVI is ongoing, multi-faceted, and challenging. 

Since 2010 Perkins eLearning has held many webinars and webcasts on CVI which include experts such as Dr. Roman-Lantzy, Dr. Dutton, Dr. Lueck, Ellen Mazel, and Matt Tietjen.  We also developed the Perkins-Roman CVI Range Endorsement as a way to ensure that professionals who are using that tool are doing so with fidelity.  We also offer numerous online moderated and self-paced classes and tutorials on CVI as well as onsite and customized training and we still are not able to keep up with the demand from the field for training. 

I hope that the opportunity to engage monthly with professionals in the field will serve to continue to inform us as we continue to develop content as well as be a resource for everyone.