Orientation & Mobility
Orientation & Mobility is the art and science of teaching a person with vision loss to travel efficiently, safely and independently – according to the individual’s goals and ability.
O&M training usually, but not always, involves the use of the long cane. There are a variety of skills and techniques that facilitate safe travel. An O&M instructor teaches the student to focus on and accurately interpret sensory information available in the environment.
Orientation is the ability to know where one is, where one wants to go and how to get there. To do this a person learns to create and maintain a "mental map" that changes as he or she moves through space, using landmarks and environmental clues to supplement whatever vision the person has. Depending on the student’s goals, teaching can include skills in traveling through complex urban environments and the use of public transportation.
Who teaches Orientation & Mobility?
Orientation and Mobility Specialists have either a bachelor’s or master’s degree. Training includes an understanding of the functions of the eye and how various diseases or disorders affect a person’s ability to accomplish daily living skills and travel independently. An O&M instructor has training in blindness, low vision and physical development. O&M instructors have spent many hours under blindfold, learning the cane techniques and orientation strategies they will teach.
How is an O&M Instructor different from a Physical Therapist or Occupational Therapist?
An O&M instructor does not teach exercises or physically rehabilitate a person. An O&M instructor assesses the current physical and cognitive ability of the student and teaches safe travel skills accordingly.