Orientation and mobility

What is Orientation and Mobility (O&M)?

Movement is a building block for learning. As a child explores his world and has physical contact with it, learning takes place. Children with visual impairments typically need encouragement to explore their surroundings. To them the world may be a startling and unpredictable place, or it may not be very motivating.

Orientation and mobility training (O & M) helps a blind or visually impaired child know where he is in space and where he wants to go (orientation). It also helps him be able to carry out a plan to get there (mobility). Orientation and mobility skills should begin to be developed in infancy starting with basic body awareness and movement, and continuing on into adulthood as the individual learns skills that allow him to navigate his world efficiently, effectively, and safely.

What Skills are Taught through O&M Training?

When a trained COMS is planning an O&M program for children the focus of training may include such things as:

  • sensory awareness: gaining information about the world through hearing, smell, touch and proprioception.
  • spatial concepts: realizing that objects exist even if not heard or felt, and understanding the relationships which exist between objects in the environment.
  • searching skills: locating items or places efficiently.
  • independent movement: which includes crawling, rolling, walking, etc.
  • sighted guide: using another person to aid in travel.
  • protective techniques: specific skills which provide added protection in unfamiliar areas
  • cane skills: use of various cane techniques to clear one’s path or to locate objects along the way.