Click here for a list of O&M specialists
who contract in the metropolitan DC / Maryland area.
Orientation and Mobility Services
Dona Sauerburger, COMS offers orientation and mobility (O&M) services to all people with a visual impairment (see resume).
Introduction to orientation and mobility (O&M)
"Can I learn to travel safely and independently if I've lost some or all of my vision?"
O&M TRAINING PROGRAMS
The following illustrate some of the various stages of orientation and mobility training:
- Skills and concepts taught
- Not just for "cane travelers"! People with low vision who don't use a cane often can benefit from learning to cross streets safely, use public transportation, and plan routes to unfamiliar destinations.
Basic skills include (among other things):
orientation skills and strategies;
using sensory information (kinesthetic, auditory, tactual and visual);
problem-solving and confidence-building;
walking with a guide.
These skills are usually taught in a large building with stairs and hallways - the more complicated and confusing, the better!
We are very grateful to the dozens of churches and synagogues who have graciously allowed us to practice and train in their buildings.
Photo: Learning to use a cane means more than just learning to move it correctly -- it takes practice to notice and use non-visual information without concentrating, especially when distracted with functional vision (see article).
orientation using sun, features and landmarks, etc.
Advanced problem-solving strategies
(includes "Drop-off lesson" -- student is intentionally disoriented in a familiar community and has to reorient without assistance)
basic street-crossing skills
These skills are usually taught in the client's own neighborhood if it has typical features of residential areas.
Photo: Client learns about slopes and textures that distinguish driveways from streets.
Skills for crossing streets are developed for signalized intersections and stop sign or uncontrolled crossings, in residential and urban settings. The advanced traveler has learned to analyze and cross unfamiliar intersections.
Photo: Street crossing at modern intersections requires advanced skills and concepts.
Metro, bus and urban travel complete the program.
Photo: The advanced traveler independently gathers information and plans routes using the Metro and buses to go to unfamiliar destinations by herself.
People starting a new job, going to school at a new campus, or moving to a new community may benefit from an orientation to help them become familiar with the environment and analyze complex intersections and routes.
Please note that:
Click here for article "Orientation -- What is Our Role?"
- orientation services are provided to people who already have the skills and concepts needed to travel independently. People who don't have these skills and concepts need a training program (see above) before an orientation service can prepare them to travel safely and independently to a new area.
- standard orientation and mobility training programs can and should prepare learners how to:
- travel independently to unfamiliar destinations;
- orient themselves to unfamiliar areas.
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