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Mobility Training

 

Mobility training, also known as Orientation and Mobility (O&M) training, "helps 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 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 CFR 300.24(a)(6)). The FLDOE Bureau of Exceptional Education and Student Services (n.d., p. 2) 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."

"Mobility training actually began after World War II when techniques were developed to help veterans who had been blinded. In the 1960s universities started training programs for orientation and mobility (O&M) specialists who worked with adults and school-aged children." Preschool-aged children began receiving O&M services in the 1980s. Today, O&M specialists have developed approaches for serving populations as young as those in infancy (Martinez & Moss, 1998).  

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

  • 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.

Mobility training is included in the IDEA regulations in a category called "related services" defined to be "transportation and such developmental, corrective, and other supportive services as are required to assist a child with a disability to benefit from special education..." (34 CFR 300.24).  "Related services" are included in the transition services that promote movement from school to post-school activities.

The Florida Division of Blind Services (FDBS) provides a number of services including O&M training to students within the state. As part of Florida’s 2009 Vocational Rehabilitation State Plan, FDBS coordinates services with public education that includes "develop[ing] and implement[ing] cooperative working arrangements with classroom teachers as needed to ensure the delivery of educational services, developmental services, and instruction in the activities of daily living such as orientation and mobility and personal and home management to eligible students with visual impairments.  For students ages 12-21, this will include cooperation in preparation of transition Individual Educational Plans (IEP’s) and Individual Plans of Employment (IPE’s)" (Florida State Plan for the State Vocational Rehabilitation Services Program, 2009, Attachment 4.8(b)(2)).

 

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. Available at http://www.fldoe.org/ese/pdf/therapy.pdf

Florida State Plan for the State Vocational Rehabilitation Services Program and State Plan Supplement for The State Supported Employment Services Program. (2009). Attachment 4.8(b)(2):  Coordination with Education Officials.  Available at dbs.myflorida.com/legal/state-plan-2011/state-plan-2010.rtf

Martinez, C. & Moss, K. (1998, Fall). Orientation and mobility training: The way to go. See/Hear, 3,4. Available at http://www.tsbvi.edu/seehear/fall98/waytogo.htm



Resources

Florida Division of Blind Services (FDBS)
http://dbs.myflorida.com/  
FDBS services to people with visual disabilities include orientation and mobility training. FDBS also operates the Orientation and Adjustment Center north of Daytona Beach Community College where adults who are blind can live temporarily while they learn to lead productive, self-sufficient lives. Clients must be interested in employment or homemaking to attend.

Foundation for Blind Children O& M Program
http://www.seeitourway.org/ProgramsServices/orientMobility/orientMobility.html
This Web page provides basic information on O&M training including the progression of skills from birth to adulthood and basic etiquette for sighted people. 

Institute for Innovative Blind Navigation Inc.
http://www.wayfinding.net/
This Web sites contains a number of resources including e-books on teaching O&M, wayfinding technology, and community education for students with travel disabilities.

Technical Assistance Paper: Related Services for Students with Disabilities
http://www.fldoe.org/ese/pdf/y1999-13.pdf
This FLDOE TAP 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.

 

Related Reading

Goodman, W. (1989). Mobility training for people with disabilities: Children and Adults with physical, mental, visual, and hearing impairments can learn to travel. Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas Publisher, Ltd.

 

 

 

The development of this website was funded by the University of South Florida St. Petersburg
through a grant by the Bureau of Exceptional Education and Student Services,
Florida Department of Education (2010 - 2011, 291-2621A-1C008).

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