Orientation and Mobility (O&M) training teaches individuals with visual impairments how to navigate safely in a variety of environments. Orientation teaches the use of all senses to understand where an individual is within the environment. Mobility is the act of moving to get to the next destination safely. The program’s goal is to teach individuals to navigate independently with grace, efficiency and confidence wherever they might be. Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialists teach lessons individually in the consumer’s home community, as well as through center-based services at the Charles McDowell Center in Louisville. Our O&M Specialists tailor training to the consumer’s specific travel needs.
Orientation and Mobility training is a physical and mental process that requires the consumer to give full attention, to be motivated to learn, and to commit oneself to practice and retain newly acquired skills. Instruction begins with vision assessment and the mutual development of travel goals. Once those things happen, the Specialist starts by getting the student to understand foundational concepts, which expands as the consumer’s confidence grows. Depending on his or her goals, instruction may include:
- Guide techniques
- Basic cane skills
- Self-protective techniques
- Indoor travel techniques including stairs, room location, landmarks and clues
- Orientation in home area including stores, restaurants and other public facilities
- Crossing small neighborhood streets and working up to lighted intersections
- Cane training for individuals using wheelchairs or walkers
- Specialized instruction for Deafblind
- Public transportation (Bus, Uber and Lyft)
- Sunshield evaluation to reduce indoor and outdoor glare
- Use of GPS
- Preparation for dog guide
- Monocular and bioptic training
- Orientation to college campus or job site
- Self-advocacy (using a personal shopper, explaining visual impairment)
To qualify for orientation and mobility training, individuals must have an open case with either a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor or an Independent Living Counselor. The counselor then will make a referral to the appropriate O&M Specialist, who will contact the consumer for an appointment.
O&M instruction provides consumers the ultimate freedom of independence. Individuals can acquire skills that they can transfer and apply to any of their surroundings. We recognize how important independence in the area of mobility is and the role it plays in the overall professional development of the individuals served. We hold our Orientation and Mobility specialists to the highest standards of acceptable behavior and best practice as specified in the Code of Ethics through the Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals.
Helpful videos demonstrating Guide Techniques
This is a series of 7 short videos. The average length of each mini-video is 2 minutes and 40 seconds. This Step-by-Step series by CNIB offers detailed information broken down into easily digestible bites. You can start with the first video and watch all 7 in the series. Or you can select one of the mini-videos if you just want to review a specific skill, such as seating or navigating narrow spaces. This video also offers suggestions for guiding people who are deaf-blind and demonstrates the universal sign to signal an emergency.
This 14-minute long video on sighted guide techniques also offers advice by people who are blind or visually impaired. It includes information on guiding people in settings such as restaurants, hotels, and public transit.
This video, which is around 11 minutes long, is a translation of the English version created by the Lighthouse Guild.