Scholarships, Grants & Stipends


Virginia AER announces the 2021 Barbara McCarthy $1500 Scholarship. Applications are now available. Submissions are due by January 15, 2021. The scholarship recipient will be honored in a virtual presentation at Virginia AER’s 2021 February new online celebration gathering, TEA Notes.

2021 McCarthy Scholarship Application link

2020 Recipient:
Kittie Cooper
Kittie Cooper completed her  Master’s in Special Education with concentration in Teaching Students with Visual Impairments at George Mason University in May 2020.  With her rich experience as a music teacher, she has already impacted the lives of students with visual impairments and multiple disabilities.  She has organized and presented biannual accessible arts performances and presentations focusing on music and arts students’ accomplishments.  She has  fostered relationships with local music and arts organizations to plan activities for students and provided lessons for students with visual impairments learning to play musical instruments.

Kittie plans to continue her work with accessible and sensory-friendly arts programming groups.  She would like to share the lessons, materials, tactile graphics, and songs/exercises she wrote to help students learn music braille with other Teachers of Blind and Vision Impaired Students so they can be successful teaching braille music regardless of their own musical experiences. Virginia AER gives you an official welcome to the field, Kittie!

Grants and Stipends Award

Encouraging Creativity and Supporting Professional Growth: Virginia AER Grants and Stipends. Updated application forms and revised rubrics! What amazing project could you design with $400 of support?

Virginia AER offers $400 grants and stipends to members. Application submission deadlines are:  March 30, June 30, September 30 and December 30. Apply now!

In 2020 Elisa Townsend applied for a Virginia AER Grant to help cover the cost of books for her graduate studies in Orientation and Mobility. She shares part of her experience.

Highlights from My Semester – Elisa Townsend

I was completely disorientated. I couldn’t figure out where I was, even though I had traveled in this neighborhood a number of times now. With my stress level spiking, I began losing all my bearings as well as the recollection of the cane and orientation skills I had been learning. My instructor reminded me to take a deep breath . . . and then she asked me what techniques I could employ to help reorientate myself. What a difference that made! I did indeed have the necessary skills; I just needed to trust my abilities and focus on what the environment was telling me rather than focusing on what I wanted – and expected – the environment to tell me.

My instructor has been key in growing my abilities and confidence in traveling under the blindfold with a long cane. Without the instructor’s guidance, encouragement, and initial prompts, I do not think I would have made it so far in my nonvisual cane training, and what a shame that would be! I have discovered the numerous benefits of using a white cane when one’s vision is impaired or lost. I travel with more confidence, efficiency, and safety. As an aspiring Orientation and Mobility therapist, I am excited to share what I have learned with others, because I believe in and know firsthand the advantages of the skills that I will pass on to others.

One of the highlights of my semester in the Orientation and Mobility program here at Western Michigan University has been learning the orientation and mobility cane techniques. One experience that I will never forget was my misadventure with a major street intersection. I was traveling under the blindfold down a sidewalk when, all of a sudden, I heard and felt the roar of rushing cars directly behind me. I had crossed a five-lane, complex street intersection –diagonally – without even being aware that I had been walking in a road! I was flabbergasted. My instructor – who always ensured that I was safe during my lessons, even during this instance – started laughing, and then I did too, because, “Wow! How did that happen?!” But such occurrences do sometimes happen. However, the important thing is that you have the skills necessary to reorientate yourself after discovering such a mix-up so that you can continue on your way and reach your destination. I never enjoyed entering a candy store so much in my life! Not only did I like purchasing a few treats after the blindfold lesson, but I was so proud of myself for having reached my given destination after correcting such a big mistake along the way.

For the 2019 Virginia AER Conference Small Steps, Giant Leaps: Continuing the Vision, Tentative Agenda, please click on the following link: Tentative Agenda