Orientation and Mobility Specialist
Role of the Orientation and Mobility Specialist
The Orientation and Mobility (O&M) Specialist will participate in the IEPT evaluation process, service provision, and keep records of student progress. He/she is responsible for developing and administering an Orientation & Mobility Assessment for every visually impaired student, in order to determine the nature and extent of O&M services needed. He/she will use the Severity Rating Scale, if necessary. The ultimate goal of O&M instruction is for visually impaired students to be able to ambulate safely, efficiently and gracefully travel in any environment as independently as possible. To reach this end, the student must have orientation skills to readily surmise and maintain his/her positional orientation in the environment in which he/she is immersed. The O&M Specialist should commence instruction with students at the earliest age possible. He/she will lead the MET team in collaborating with parents, teachers, and ancillary staff in order to target development of O&M concept, motor and sensory skills development, as well as environmental and community awareness. If necessary, he/she will determine the prescriptive length of the long cane, the cane type, and the cane tip type.
Areas that need to be developed include concept of body-spatial awareness, environmental awareness, skills in movement with a sighted guide, protective hand techniques, indoor environment long cane skills, outdoor environment long cane skills, street crossings, use of public transportation systems, residential environment travel, small business environment travel, urban environment travel, processing of environmental stimuli, soliciting information from public, use of electronic mobility aids, iPhone apps for mobility and public transit, GPS apps, conducting monetary transactions in businesses, and tactile map reading. It is also the O&M Instructor’s role to adapt these areas of instruction to address needs of visually impaired student travelers who do not walk, but use wheelchairs or other mobility aids. Alternative travel systems such as dog guides or electronic mobility devices might need to be considered and informed to the parents.
Because the ultimate O&M goal is independent mobility for the student, the O&M Specialist will incorporate the O&M instruction into the home, neighborhood, school, and community settings at large. The O&M Specialist will follow the student’s progress with regard to O&M skill status, modulate objectives according to skill acquisition, as well as observe personal/behavioral and language pragmatic skill levels to provide necessary data collection to advance student’s independent travel.