The mission of AER is to support professionals who provide education and rehabilitation services to people with visual impairments.

The vision of AER is to be recognized as the leading authority in providing the necessary services and tools to help educators and rehabilitation personnel in serving the blind and visually impaired.

With a rich history, the Association was formed in 1984 as the result of a consolidation between the American Association of Workers for the Blind and the Association for Education of the Visually Handicapped.

The AER Bylaws and Policies and Procedures Manual detail AER’s purpose, structure, and procedures.  The AER Board of Directors approved an AER Code of Ethics in 2015, which is part of the Policies and Procedures Manual. The Association uses a number of standing committees and ad hoc committees to design and carry out its many programs and services. Resolutions passed by the association’s membership provide insight on where the association stands on specific issues.

AER is committed to serving our members and affiliated chapters and divisions through effective strategic planning conducted at all levels within the organization. AER’s Strategic Plan guides the association into the future and is periodically updated to ensure we are meeting the members’ and association’s needs.

AER is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization domiciled in the Commonwealth of Virginia, USA.

AER develops and promotes professional excellence through support of those who provide services to people with visual impairments by providing:

Professional Support

Communication and networking on a local level are achieved through automatic membership in Chapters.

Division memberships

Enable members to focus on specific topics of expertise, including Administration and Leadership; Rehabilitation Counseling and Employment; Multiple Disabilities & Deafblind; Psychosocial Services; Information & Technology; Low Vision Rehabilitation; Infant & Preschool; Orientation & Mobility; Education Curriculum; Vision Rehabilitation Therapy; Division on Aging; Itinerant Personnel, Personnel Preparation, International Services & Global Issues, and Physical Activity & Recreation.

International and other conferences provide the opportunity for professional development as well as support.


We provide our members with opportunities for professional growth and development through continuing education, regional, national and international conferences, and several publications.

The AER Report newsletter keeps members informed about Association news and policy. AER Viewpoint is a weekly e-newsletter with timely information about AER and the field of blindness and vision impairment.

AER provides qualified members a subscription to the Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness, published by the American Foundation for the Blind. It is an essential professional resource for information about visual impairment and blindness and is now the official journal of AER. The international peer-reviewed journal delivers current research and best practice information, and commentary from authoritative experts on critical topics.

AER also publishes books utilized in classrooms and offers others related to the field.

Professional Development

To enhance career development, AER members have exclusive access to AER Job Exchange, listings of job openings in the field.

Continuing Education is an important part of professional development. AER is continually developing ongoing education opportunities for members, either online or at conferences. Its AER Knowledge Center, AFB joint webinars, and Mangold Distance Education Webinar Series are excellent resources for professional development as are individual chapter conferences.


Professional recognition through biennial awards including the C. Warren Bledsoe Award, the Alfred Allen Award, Mary K. Bauman Award, John H. McAulay Award, the Ambrose M. Shotwell Award, the Douglas C. MacFarland Award, and the AER Outstanding Chapter Award. These awards are given to the recipients during the AER International Conference’s held every other year, on the even numbered years.


AER provides two scholarships to students who are legally blind and are studying for a career in the field of services to the blind or visually impaired. The scholarships are named in honor of William and Dorothy Ferrell. They are awarded in the even number years. Keep an eye out in early 2016 for more information on how to apply!


Through its lobbying efforts, AER gives professionals and consumers in the field a collective voice on Capitol Hill to keep the focus on the importance of maintaining specialized blind services for consumers of all ages.