Campus: CSU Los Angeles -- September 24, 2004

Teaching Expertise of Cal State L.A. Alum is used to Aid Woman with Visual Impairment in Reality Television Series!

When Vince Fazzi, Jr. received his master's degree and credential as an Orientation and Mobility Specialist at Cal State L.A., teaching in a "reality" television show was the farthest thing from his mind! Though the Orientation & Mobility Specialist Training Program at Cal State L.A. does prepare specialists to teach individuals who are blind or visually impaired how to travel independently, most of the students requiring this type of training aren't participating in a reality television series!

Several weeks ago, an executive from the syndicated daytime series Starting Over (check local listings for times) called Cal State L.A. in an effort to find an expert who could assist a visually-impaired participant in the television show. This series places a diverse group of women within a home environment and, under one roof, all participants have opportunities to make dramatic life changes with the direction of two life coaches. As each woman realizes, or fails to achieve, her life goals, she leaves the home and is replaced by another woman.

One young woman, named Sinae, who is participating in the second season of this daytime reality TV series produced by Bunim-Murray Productions is "legally blind." Starting Over executives recognized that they needed an expert to ensure that this visually-impaired young woman could move about her home environment and travel within her new community in a safe manner-both in routine and in emergency situations.

Fazzi, who has worked for the Los Angeles Unified School District for several years, was recommended for this task because of his reputation as a highly-talented Orientation and Mobility Specialist. That he happens to also have a B.A. degree in Theatre Arts from Cal State L.A. was just an added bonus!

Typically, orientation and mobility training involves instruction in the use of the long white cane and, when appropriate, in the use of residual vision and low-vision devices to aid independent travel. Additionally, it is essential that instructors address the development of concepts relating to the travel environment as well as spatial understanding for travelers who are blind or visually impaired so that they can maintain their orientation within the many challenging environments they must travel.

The second season of Starting Over-which premiered last week and airs in Los Angeles, Monday-Friday, 12 noon, on KNBC (channel 4)-presents unique new challenges to teaching the complex cognitive and physical skills of orientation and mobility.

For more information relating to the Orientation & Mobility Specialist Training Program at Cal State L.A., please contact: Dr. Diane Fazzi or Brenda Naimy at (323) 343-4411. Federal support is available for tuition and quarterly stipends for applicants who are qualified and meet program entrance requirements.

For more information relating to the television series, Starting Over, visit: http://www.startingovertv.com

Contact: Margie Yu, Public Affairs Specialist, (323) 343-3047


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