By Mike Mulligan
I get asked the question all the time “What is an Orientation & Mobility Specialist?” It is extremely rare when I find someone who has ever heard of it let alone can explain it to me. Today, I wanted to share with you all what an Orientation & Mobility Specialist is and does. The goal of this article is to spread awareness about what I and many other specialists do and how it positively affects people who are blind and visually impaired.
An Orientation & Mobility Specialist is an instructor who teaches people who are blind and visually impaired different travel skills. The goal of these taught travel skills is to increase an individual’s safety, efficiency, and independence while traveling. We all want to be able to move and travel safely within our environments including individuals who are blind and visually impaired. Lack of movement can lead to serious health consequences and we all should aim to move as much as we can.
The term Orientation & Mobility is used to describe the profession because it encapsulates two different aspects of what we do. First “Orientation” refers to the ability to know where you are in space, as well as knowing where you want to go. Second “Mobility” refers to the ability to travel within one’s environment safely, efficiently, and independently. Both are needed when wanting to travel safely and independently within different environments.
Some of the skills that are taught to help accomplish this goal include sensory development, protective techniques, human guide skills, using a white cane or support cane, intersection analaysis, street crossing techniques, compass directions, landmarks and clues, problem-solving skills, public transportation, and different forms of technology. As you can tell there are many different aspects involved in Orientation & Mobility.
Orientation & Mobility Specialists provide instructions that can significantly impact an individual’s well being. Please spread the news so that more people will know that there are specialists out there who are willing and ready to help individuals who are blind and visually impaired move more.