Orientation and Mobility Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is O&M? Orientation involves knowing where you are, where you are going, and how to get there by interpreting information available in your environment.  Mobility means moving safely, gracefully, and comfortably through your environment. These are complementary processes, but they are not the same.

    Who Needs O&M Training? Individuals who are blind or have a visual impairment are often eligible for O&M services to develop skills to navigate their environment as independently as possible.

    Why are O&M skills important to learn? O&M training promotes safer, efficient, graceful, and independent movement through any environment, indoor and outdoor, familiar and unfamiliar.  Independent travel helps build self-esteem and self-confidence as the individual is able to move freely.  Being able to travel freely gives the student more control over their environment.

    How do individuals with visual impairments travel in the environment? All people travel and make movement choices based on objects and events in their surroundings. In order to do that, information must be gained through the senses about the characteristics, identity, and location of those objects and events.  If vision is impaired, a source of sensory input is missing or otherwise different from that of a sighted individual.  The person with visual impairments must rely on other senses and sources of perceptual input to guide them through movement in the environment. These include listening, touching, walking, wind, temperature, and odors.

    What types of activities are done in O&M? Depending on the age, ability, and desires of the individual, activities are planned to assist the O&M student in navigating in his/her home, school, or community. Concepts (such as above, behind, forward, parallel, left/right) are introduced and practiced continually. Human guide techniques, walking with the white cane, using GPS and electronic travel aids may be practiced in a typical O&M lesson.

    For more information please contact the vision department.