What is Orientation & Mobility?
First of all, what is Orientation and Mobility, a.k.a. O&M?
Orientation refers to knowing where you are in space relative to other things in your environment. This allows you to have a sense as to where you are. Mobility refers to traveling through space.
Taking consideration of both terms together, it entails using the information your environment and body provides to be able to move through space with purpose and intentional direction. This purpose and intentional direction is behind independent and efficient travel.
Why is O&M important?
Without intentionally planning actions to move through space with purpose, travel is merely moving for movement’s sake without an end goal of reaching a destination. Independent orientation and mobility, no matter the mode of mobility, is key to achieving self determination.
How can my child get this service?
IDEA, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, mandates O&M when it is a required related service for a student with Visual Impairment. If a student with VI’s ability to develop body, spatial, and environmental concepts and/or travel safely, efficiently, and independently in environments, including community settings, is compromised, that student should receive O&M services.
What types of things are addressed with O&M?
Environmental concepts like texture and shape, body concepts like performing a specific movement, and spatial concepts like demonstrating “in” and “out” are all examples of early concepts that are foundational for more advanced skills needed for independent travel. These are areas that a Certified Orientation and Mobility instructor can address.
Who should get O&M?
A child should not be excluded from O&M services because they are not walking, in a wheelchair and cannot propel themselves, or a certain age. Children of any age or functional level of independence can benefit from O&M.
Is O&M different for students with CVI vs. ocular impairments?
The student’s particular CVI characteristics and CVI Phase need to be considered in the evaluation and delivery of O&M services so that your child can learn to use visually accessible information and cues to increase their ability to independently travel with purpose and improved safety.