Orientation and Mobility (O&M) in the school setting is a related service for students with visual impairments and is provided to students who meet criteria for special education services. O&M instruction is age-appropriate, individualized training that teaches students with visual impairments to move safely and independently at home, in schools, and in the community. O&M is an integral part of the Expanded Core Curriculum for students with visual impairments. O&M services are available to students with visual impairments including low vision, CVI, and blindness. Orientation and Mobility instruction (O&M) is the teaching of concepts, skills, and techniques necessary for a person who is blind or visually impaired to travel safely, efficiently, and confidently through the environment.
Orientation is determining and establishing one’s position in the environment. Mobility is the process of moving within one’s environment safely and efficiently. Orientation and Mobility training (O&M) may include instruction in concept development (including body image, spatial, positional, directional, and environmental concepts), sensory skills, motor development including motor skills needed for balance, posture, and gait, basic orientation concepts, use of landmarks, and the use of adaptive devices. Instruction is tailored to each student’s needs and is a 1-on-1 service. Orientation and Mobility training helps to promote independence for students with visual impairments and it provides them with strategies to improve their safety.
Services may include developing a primary travel system using residual vision, instruction on the use of a long cane, prescribed low vision aids, sighted guide, or a combination thereof. Other skills include effective indoor travel techniques, self-protective techniques, trailing, room familiarization, safe and effective negotiation of outdoor areas, street crossings, and the use of public transportation. The goal of O&M instruction is to develop the skills to travel safely and as independently as possible in any environment. Lessons may take place in a variety of settings, including the home, the school, the community, and on public transportation.
Orientation and Mobility services are only available for students who have a visual impairment. Upon referral, a Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist (COMS) will determine eligibility and will conduct an evaluation of the student to determine if a need exists for O&M services.
The CREST Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist is certified by the Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals. Orientation and Mobility Specialist services include comprehensive evaluation, direct service and consultation services, environmental assessment, and in-service training to school staff.