Best Practice Principles for Teaching Orientation and Mobility Skills to a Person who is Deafblind in Australia

Over the past 12 months, Independent Options for Mobility have been working on an O&M project in conjunction with Able Australia.  The project looked at the specific O&M needs for people who are deafblind, and was supported by a grant from the Fundable Future project.

One outcome of the project was the development of a DVD with some specific signs to use in O&M lessons with Auslan users.  The DVD is available to view here, and is also accompanied by a booklet explaining some of the common O&M terms and techniques.

Download: Best Practice Principles for Teaching Orientation and Mobility Skills to a Person who is Deafblind in Australia

General Principles

Allow more time:  Communication breakdowns can occur more frequently when working through an interpreter.  Unlike O&M sessions with a person with blindness or low vision where explanations can take place on the move, conversations with a person who is deafblind will mainly occur when stationary.  It’s important therefore to allow one and half hours for every hour you would normally plan to spend on training, and twice as long if you are working with an interpreter.  Decide whether longer sessions are beneficial, or if you want to schedule shorter but more frequent sessions.

Set very clear goals:  Be clear on the concepts and strategies that will be practice. For example, lesson may focus only on an O&M technique with little information about landmarks or orientation points. Once you are certain that the O&M technique has been learnt and understood, the lesson might then focus purely on landmarks.  It’s important not to introduce too many new concepts at once.

More practice and less talking:  Provide as many physical and practical examples of concepts as possible.

Don’t assume everything you’ve said has been understood:  Double check that new concepts and ideas have been understood. Ask the person you’re working with to recap and demonstrate use of new techniques and concepts.

If you’re interested in further information on O&M training, contact us here at Independent Options for Mobility.