Rebecca Renshaw – University of Pittsburgh
Upon graduating from The Pennsylvania State University in 1995 with a BA in Psychology, Ms. Rebecca Renshaw began her professional career as a research associate at The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Around that same time she began volunteering at Pittsburgh Vision Services.
In 1998, Ms. Price enrolled full-time in The University of Pittsburgh Masters of Education Vision Studies Dual Certification Program. After completing the program in one year, she accepted a position at the Western Pennsylvania School for Blind Children. For the last seven years, Ms. Price has had the chance to work in a variety of different capacities: Orientation and Mobility (O&M) Specialist, substitute teacher, and classroom teacher. Her responsibilities have been extraordinarily varied. Above and beyond the typical responsibilities of a teacher of the visually impaired, Ms. Price created a new functional vision evaluation form for the School, participated on a committee to redesign the early childhood curriculum, and conducted numerous presentations to paraeducators, professionals and parents. Some of the topics of these presentations have included cortical visual impairment, O&M basics, beginning braille techniques, functional vision assessments, and learning media assessments.
In 2000, Ms. Price had the opportunity to become a consultant for The Early Learning Institute (TELI), in addition to her responsibilities at the School. This is an organization that provides early intervention services to children with special needs age birth to three years old in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. Through this experience, she learned there was a lack of information in the medical community and inadequate resources for parents of children with visual impairments.
In 2004, Ms. Price participated in a project called First Adventures. This project brought together national experts and local educators in the field of visual impairment. In collaboration with Dr. George Zimmerman, an outdoor O&M lesson using a tactile map was designed. Upon completion of the project, Dr. Zimmerman and Ms. Price presented the data they collected in a poster presentation at AER International Conference 2004 in Orlando, Florida. The effectiveness of using a tactile map in an outdoor environment with a 4-year-old girl with visual impairment was demonstrated.
Since June 2004, Ms. Price has participated in numerous projects and initiatives. She has taught graduate level courses and guest lectured in a number of classes at both The University of Pittsburgh and Chatham College. Additionally, she has reviewed a manuscript for American Printing House for the Blind, consulted with curators at The Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh, PA to adapt an exhibit for the visually impaired, and designed an informational brochure on visual impairment and sighted guide techniques for distribution to businesses in the Pittsburgh region.
Upon completion of the doctoral program, Ms. Price envisions using her degree to pursue a position in research, public policy, and/or personnel preparation. Because of her constant desire to make a difference in the lives and educational experiences of children with special needs, she hopes to continue her pursuit and perhaps make an impact at the federal level.