Orientation and Mobility (O&M)

WHAT IS O & M?

  1. ORIENTATION: how a person with a vision loss knows where they are in the environment and how to get to where they want to go.

  2. MOBILITY: have the skills to carry out a plan to get there.

Movement is a building block for learning. As a child explores their world and has physical contact with it, learning takes place. Children with visual impairments typically need encouragement to explore their surroundings. To them the world may be a startling and unpredictable place, or it may not be very motivating.

Orientation and mobility skills should begin to be developed in infancy starting with basic body awareness and movement, and continuing on into adulthood as the individual learns skills that allow them to navigate their world efficiently, effectively, and safely.

HISTORY

Orientation and mobility training actually began after World War II when techniques were developed to help veterans who had been blinded. In the 1960s universities started training programs for Orientation and Mobility Specialists who worked with adults and school-aged children.

SKILLS TAUGHT THROUGH O & M

O & M programs for children may include:

  • sensory awareness: gaining information about the world through remaining vision, hearing, smell, touch and proprioception

  • spatial concepts: understanding the relationships which exist between objects in the environment

  • searching skills: locating items or places efficiently

  • independent movement: which includes crawling, rolling, walking, etc.

  • human guide: using another person to aid in travel (See Human Guide Page) 

Student walking with adult using human guide

  • protective techniques: specific skills which provide added protection in unfamiliar areas

  • cane skills: use of various cane techniques to clear one's path or to locate objects along the way

Student walking with long cane

 

  • school travel: being able to locate areas in the classroom and around the school, including outside areas

 

Student with long cane walking on sidewald at school

 

  • residential area travel: navigating sidewalks, street intersections and crossings, use of compass directions and address systems, maps and gps.

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  • commercial area travel: traffic light street crossings, locate and utilize businesses

  • public transportation: use of local bus system and other relevant means of transport

METHODS OF TRAVEL

1. Long cane - let them know you are there or move out of the way.

2. Dog Guides - you should not encounter this in the school environment but generally they are working dogs and should not interacted with unless given permission.                                                                                         Image result for seeing eye dog

3. By looking using their remaining vision - most people with a vision loss are not completely blind and are able to utilize their remaining vision to navigate.
Student using monocular

4. Human Guide -- technique provides the safest, most comfortable way for two people to travel. (See Human Guide Page)