Travel Instruction and Orientation and Mobility Training

Getting around the community is important to consider when transition planning. How will students get to and from work and/or a postsecondary education/training program? How will they participate in social activities?  How will they travel to their medical appointments? How will they purchase needed items and transport them back to their home? The answers will differ from student to student depending on their circumstances. Some students may need travel instruction in order to learn how to take public transportation or arrange for rides from a paratransit company.  Travel instruction may include safety measures for walking or riding a bicycle in the community. 

The term "mobility training", is sometimes used interchangeably with "travel Instruction"; however, the initial focus of mobility training, also known as Orientation and Mobility (O&M) training, was to help "individuals who are blind or visually impaired know where they are in space and where they want to go (orientation). This training also helps them carry out a plan to get there (mobility)"(Martinez & Moss, 1998).  

The regulations for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) define orientation and mobility under 'Related Services' as "services provided to blind or visually impaired students by qualified personnel to enable those students to attain systematic orientation to and safe movement within their environments in school, home, and community..." (34 CRF 300.34(c)(7). The FLDOE Bureau of Exceptional Education and Student Services (n.d., p. 2, "Considerations for Educationally Relevant Therapy: OCCUPATIONAL AND PHYSICAL THERAPY SUMMARY SHEET") defines mobility as "safe and adequate movement, (e.g., transfers, transitions between positions or locations, the ability to navigate architectural barriers) within the educational environment." This definition is not specific to students who are blind or have a visual impairment.

O&M skills are important to support independent living. Orientation and mobility training enables an individual to navigate his or her world efficiently, effectively and safely. According to Martinez & Moss (1998), mobility training may include the following:

  • 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.

The Florida Division of Blind Services (FDBS/DBS) provides a number of services including O&M training to students within the state. The link to DBS and their transition web page are included in the resource section below.

Resources

Competencies for the Practice of Travel Instruction and Travel Training (pdf) 
Easter Seals Project ACTION (Accessible Community Transportation in Our Nation) developed this resource which focuses on competencies related to travel instruction/training. The document states: The competencies are a defined and standardized set of skills, knowledge and abilities required to perform the job of travel instructor or travel trainer. When implemented, the competencies provide a structure that results in quality travel training outcomes for people and service providers.

DBS Transition Site
DBS helps people who are blind or have visual impairments to achieve their goals and live their lives with as much independence and self-direction as possible. One of the supports available is orientation and mobility training. DBS also operates the Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired, where people who are blind can live temporarily while they learn to lead productive, self-sufficient lives.

Florida Division of Blind Services (FDBS/DBS)

FLDOE Page on Related Services
This FLDOE page describes related services for students with disabilities that are intended to facilitate participation in educational programs under the Individuals with Disabilities Act, including orientation and mobility services.

National Aging and Disability Transportation Center
The National Aging and Disability Transportation Center (NADTC) offers a variety of supports and services, including training and webinars and resources and publications.

Travel Instruction
The state of Massachusetts Health and Human Services offices created a web page dedicated to travel instruction. The site includes information regarding what travel instruction is, the benefits of travel instruction and a variety of resources.

References

Bureau of Exceptional Education and Student Services. (n.d.). Considerations for Educationally Relevant Therapy: Occupational and physical therapy summary sheet. Tallahassee, FL: Florida Department of Education. Retrieved from http://www.fldoe.org/ese/pdf/therapy.pdf.

Florida Unified State Plan - Vocational Rehabilitation Services Portion 2017-2020. Retrieved from http://rehabworks.org/ docs/ 2017-20VRUnifiedStatePlanDraft.pdf.