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You are here: Home School of Education Departments Special Education Faculty Ellen Trief

Ellen Trief

Professor of Blind & Visually Impaired and Severe & Multiple Disabilities

212 772-4110
911 West


B.S. in Elementary Education and Speech from SUNY New Paltz

M.S.ed. in Special Education and Blindness and Visual Impairment from Boston College

Ed.D. in Special Education and Administration from Teachers College, Columbia University


SPED 707 Research Seminar: Issues in Special Education

SPED 743 Braille Literacy and Communication Skills for Learners with Visual Impairments

SPED 748 Student Teaching : Blindness and Visual Impairment Preschool-Grade 12

SPED 792 Language Development and Alternative Communication Systems for Learners with Low Incidence Disabilities Including Deafblindness


Current Research includes a National Library of Video Excerpts (L.O.V.E.) for exemplary video clips of teachers of the blind and visually impaired throughout the United States and Canada. The library is available for personnel preparation programs throughout the country and the clips are embedded in the American Foundation for the Blind's Foundation textbook. Standardized Tactile Augmentative Communication Symbols (STACS) published by the American Printing House for the Blind is the culmination of 10 years of research to develop a standardized communication symbols system for students who are visually and multiply impaired. Seven peer reviewed articles were published on this topic.


Trief, E. (2013). STACS: Standardized tactile augmentative communication symbols system. Louisville, Kentucky, The American Printing House for the Blind.

Trief, E., Cascella, P., and Bruce, S. (2013). A Field Study of a Standardized Tangible Symbol System for Learners Who Are Visually Impaired and Have Multiple Disabilities. The Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness. 180-191.

Bruce, S., Trief, E. and Cascella, P. (2011). Teachers’ and speech and language pathologists’ perceptions about a tangible symbols intervention: efficacy, generalization and recommendations. Augmentative and Alternative Communication, 27(3), 172-182.

Trief, E. Bruce, S. and Cascella, P. (2010). The selection of tangible symbols by educators of students with visual impairment and additional disabilities. The Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness. 425-430.

Gale, E., Trief, E. and Lengel, James. (2010). The use of video analysis in a personnel preparation program for teachers of students who are visually impaired. The Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness. 700-704.

Trief, E., Bruce, S., Cascella, P. and Ivy, S. (2009). The development of a universal tangible symbol system. The Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness. 103(7),


Lavelle Fund for the Blind three- year grant to develop a video clip library for personnel preparation programs in visual impairment and blindness, $158,982, Awarded Summer 2011.
Lavelle Fund for the Blind three- year grant to develop a set of tangible symbols for the American Foundation for the Blind. $260,000. Awarded Spring, 2007.
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