This is an area of instruction focusing on students’ ability to know where they are in relation to their environment and to travel safely, efficiently, purposefully and independently throughout this environment. Good orientation and mobility skills are highly correlated with the degree of independence achieved by students later in life. Developing body awareness, directionality, spatial awareness and practical knowledge associated with the characteristics of a given environment increases the probability that students will be actively involved in age-appropriate activities with peers. Problem-solving strategies essential to travel in both familiar and unfamiliar environments, urban and rural areas and in various kinds of weather are essential to the development of independence and self-esteem. Students who have low vision need to learn to interpret both visual and auditory information, and may require optical devices to access information. The use of a white cane is essential for some students who cannot rely upon the accuracy of the visual information they receive or for those who are blind. Students who are blind or visually impaired with additional disabilities need to have orientation and mobility instruction that addresses the specific needs of their daily routines. Orientation and mobility is taught by professionals who have completed certified programs in this very specialized area.
Way to Go
An article by Carolina Martinez, an O & M specialist, that provides a detailed description of Orientation and Mobility skills and a description of various electronic aids.
An e-book by Doug Baldwin that addresses many of the different areas of O & M. Contained within the book are additional links to related resources.
International Journal of Orientation and Mobility
A link to the Australia-based International Journal of Orientation and Mobility. This is a peer-reviewed journal that contains articles pertaining to all areas of O & M. Subscriptions for people living outside of Australia are A$40.00.
O and M Tip Sheet
A ‘tip sheet’ that provides a good overview of Orientation and Mobility. Prepared by the New Hampshire Professional Development Center for Vision Education.
TSBVI O and M Games
A link to a document that describes O & M games that can be played with a preschool child.
The Independent Airport Traveler
A link to the article ‘The Independent Airport Traveler’ by Jay Stiteley. The author offers a comprehensive list of steps to consider when traveling by air from the planning stages of the trip to the various stations at the airport.
Another article by Jay Stiteley that addresses the topics of mental maps and environmental cues.
TSBVI O and M Benefits
A brief overview of the benefits of O & M developed by the Texas School for the Blind.
The Seeing Eye
A link to The Seeing Eye – a guide dog school in Morristown, New Jersey.
TSBVI Setting up the Environment
A detailed list that discusses how to make the environment more suitable for independent travelers who are blind or visually impaired. This would be a good resource for parents, family members and classroom teachers of children who are blind or visually impaired.