Orientation and Mobility
A significant and immediate consequence of visual impairment is the restriction in one’s ability to travel through physical and social environments and to anticipate and exercise control over potentially hazardous situations. The skills needed to move safely and confidently through an environment are developed through instruction in Orientation and Mobility (O&M).
O&M training can be broadly defined as teaching the concepts and skills necessary for student to travel safely and efficiently in their environments. Orientation skills enable people with visual impairments to use sensory information to know their location in different settings, and mobility skills enable them to travel in different areas. People travel to different destinations using different techniques (such as the sighted guide or trailing techniques) or by using assistive devices (like the long cane and the wheelchair).
O&M training encompasses much more than teaching students to use a long cane. It begins early with concept development and continues with training in auditory skills, safety issues, and problem solving and in the use of assistive technology, community resources, and public transportation systems. O&M instruction is equally important for students who are blind and for those with low vision. To be effective, it should be an integral part of a student’s day; that is, a student should use O&M techniques for many activities (such as using a map to complete an assignment, walking to the cafeteria, or meeting the school bus). Student who have well-established O&M skills are able to incorporate what they have learned in O&M training to travel in their environments safely and efficiently.
Taken from page 530 in Foundations in Education – 2nd Edition. Editors are Alan J. Koenig and M. Kay Holbrook.Scope of Practice
Orientation and Mobility Instruction is a sequential process in which visually impaired individuals are taught to utilize their remaining senses to determine their position within their environment and to negotiate safe movement from one place to another. The skills involved in this teaching include but are not limited to:
- Concept Development, which includes body image, spatial, temporal, positional, directional, and environmental concepts
- Motor Development, including motor skills needed for balance, posture, and gait, as well as the use of adaptive devices and techniques to assist those with multiple disabilities.
- Sensory Development, which includes visual, auditory, vestibular, kinesthetic, tactile, olfactory, and proprioceptive senses, and the interrelationships of these systems.
- Residual Vision Stimulation and Training
- Sighted Guide Technique
- Upper and Lower Protective Techniques
- Locating Dropped Objects
- Cane Techniques
- Soliciting/Declining Assistance
- Following Directions
- Utilizing Landmarks
- Search Patterns
- Compass Directions
- Route Planning
- Analysis and Identification of Intersections and Traffic Patterson
- The use of Traffic Control Devices
- Techniques for Crossing Streets
- Techniques for travel in indoor environments, outdoor residential, small and large business districts, mall travel, and rural areas.
- Problem Solving
- The Use of Public Transportation
- Evaluation with Sun Filters for the Reduction of Glare
- Instructional Use of Low Vision Devices
- Map Reading
Information from Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals http://www.acvrep.org/ . which is the certifying body for Orientation and Mobility Specialists.