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A yellow Labrador Retriever guide dog sits for a photo shootSFSU Unleashes a First
This fall, SFSU will become the first university in the world to offer a graduate certificate in guide dog mobility -- a program that trains educators how to teach visually impaired individuals to use guide dogs.

SFSU is collaborating with the San Rafael-based Guide Dogs for the Blind, Inc., to initiate the two-year certification program. The two students enrolled in the pilot program this fall will take courses at SFSU followed by an internship at the Guide Dogs organization. About six students will be admitted each year thereafter.

Sandra Rosen, a special education professor in SFSU's College of Education and program coordinator, says the goal is to help visually impaired individuals and people with multiple disabilities become more mobile.

"There is an established link between independent travel and employment, participation in social activities and self-esteem," Rosen says. "We're helping [visually impaired] folks on economic, cultural and personal levels."

SFSU has been a leader in orientation and mobility education for the visually impaired. Since the 1960s, the University has trained educators how to teach practical "traveling" skills such as how to walk with a cane and use public transportation, and SFSU was the first to teach educators how to instruct visually impaired children, Rosen says.

In 1979, SFSU first accepted a blind student into its orientation and mobility teaching program. The University has also been a pioneer in the use of computer-mediated learning in mobility instruction.

"We have forward thinking, creative, energetic folks who look far into the future," Rosen says. "We set trends, we don't follow them."

-- Gary Moskowitz

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