Without the ability to independently travel a person with visual impairment is trapped within their home and cannot enjoy a fulfilled life. Orientation and Mobility Program (O&M): O&M refers to training that enables blind and visually impaired individuals to learn to travel safely within their community. Specialized instruction will allow the student to learn safe techniques for crossing streets, using canes and accessing public transportation. Those students who are interested in obtaining a guide dog are assisted through the application process and given training to acquaint them with orientation once they obtain a guide dog.
This program is generally implemented on a one-on-one basis in the student's home, community, work place and school. Some instruction may be accomplished in a group setting in classes as needed.
Imagine not being able to reach for your car keys and drive to a store. Blind individuals must use alternative skills to travel outside of their homes. Orientation and Mobility (O & M) training provides a blind or visually impaired person with the training to move safely and efficiently through their environment. Through our training, the student gains the ability to independently cross streets, use public transportation, travel to work or continue to shop independently. Training is generally provided on a one-on-one basis based on the individual needs of the student.
What Skills are Taught in an O & M Program?
When planning an O & M Program for youths and adults, the focus of training may include any of the following depending on the student’s needs:
Public Transportation: Students learn to use public transportation, such as the door-to-door bus service or the public bus system. Skills involved may be map reading, traveling to bus stops and learning appropriate routes based on the individual’s needs.
Sighted Guide Techniques: Students practice the skills involved in traveling with the aid of a sighted person and leave with the ability to train any sighted person to guide them safely through any environment.
Safe Travel: Students become aware of effective techniques THAT provide added protection in unfamiliar areas such as detecting obstacles when reaching for dropped objects.
Orientation: Students become familiar with the environment by traveling to familiar and unfamiliar areas in the community with an experienced instructor.
Cane Skills: Students are taught various cane techniques to clear one's path, or to locate objects along the way.
Orientation and Mobility training is essential for persons with visual impairments because without the ability to travel, a person may become unnecessarily homebound. With proper training a person with a visual impairment can learn the skills needed and build the confidence necessary to effectively and safely travel to wherever.