UNL special education department receives 1.2 million dollars in funding

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN)- The Department of Special Education and Communications Disorders is leading a project to recruit and train new teachers.

This five-year project is geared toward Lincoln’s future educators and service providers; and has already received over 1.2 million dollars in funding from the U.S. Department of Education- Office of Special Education Programs.

According to a study, the number of preschool children with visual impairment will increase by 25 percent in the coming decades.

Mackenzie Savaiano, associate professor of practice in S.E.C.D, says the program is collaborating with three-degree programs within the department for enhanced relations.

“That’s for training teachers of students with visual impairments and orientation and mobility specialists together in collaborative environments so that they kind of understand each other’s roles and responsibilities, ” Saviano said.

The two-year curriculum is primarily online and removes the financial burden from students.

The program starts in August and will support 36 students recruited from the rural and Mid-Plains region.

Savaiano says the gap between care for visually impaired children is “interesting” because it depends on accessibility to resources, like teachers and caregivers for the children.

“It looks different in different places, places like Lincoln, Omaha metro area where there’s more people, there are more teachers in these areas,” Savaiano said.

“But there are also more students in these areas, and so even with a larger team, doesn’t necessarily mean you get to see all of the kids as much as you would like to.”

The program will relieve students of their tuition bills, cost of textbooks, lodging, and other academic expenses related to the degree.

Savaiano says that’s what makes the work she does worth it.

“I like to set myself up for active recruitment to do as much as we can to not put people into debt, ” she exclaimed.

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