Watch Silvia's Video
  • Teaches in the School of Special Education as an assistant professor and is from Puerto Rico
  • Strives to create better communication between visually impaired students and their teachers
  • Shares her research with other Special Education professionals at conferences worldwide
  • Is one of a few diverse faculty members in her field

Improving Mobility of the
Visually Impaired

The slow clacking of a cane against concrete echoes through the neighborhood near the UNC campus as Dr. Silvia Correa-Torres, an assistant professor in the School of Special Education, leads a blindfolded graduate student down the sidewalk.

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Silvia is teaching an Orientation and Mobility course that helps students discover how to navigate the world without sight. As part of the course she pairs each student with a classmate, and they take turns experiencing, for just a few hours, what it’s like to be blind as well as what it takes to guide the visually impaired.

Students must learn to trust each other, but they must also rely on Silvia to teach them the skills they need to succeed in such a specialized field of study. This unique experience shows students how to build a sense of security for those who are visually impaired.

Silvia was first introduced to Special Education when a college professor recruited her to take some courses in the area of visual impairment and volunteer at a school for the blind. She quickly fell in love with the children and decided to become a professor herself, providing teachers with the training they need to help students. That decision brought her to UNC where she obtained her doctoral degree and is now a leading instructor and researcher in her field.

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She is passionate about helping visually impaired students and their families and feels that with the proper education, they will be better prepared to take on the demands of the world. Through her research, Silvia is equipped to educate special education teachers on how to be effective in the technical and cultural aspects of working with the disabled which is the human approach to education inherent to UNC.

"What sparked my interest in the field of visual impairment was experiencing how children learned to read Braille and navigate with their canes. Before entering the field, I was amazed by what teachers were able to accomplish with these students, and I wanted to do it, too."

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