Orientation and mobility (O&M) is a foundational skill for people who are blind or have low vision. But what is O&M?
Orientation means knowing where you are in space, in relation to the things around you. It means you can answer the following questions:
- Where am I now?
- Where am I going?
- How am I going to get there?
Mobility refers to how a person moves through their environment. This can involve the use of a mobility aid such as a long cane or a guide dog, learning strategies to use functional vision safely and effectively, or a combination of the two.
An Orientation & Mobility Specialist is a professional trained to teach people who are blind or have low vision how to move through the environment safely, efficiently and as independently as possible. This is done through the development of both orientation and mobility skills.
Within the education sector, orientation and mobility is a component of the “expanded core curriculum” – those concepts, skills and learning areas that sighted children learn incidentally and through vision. Children who are blind or have low vision need to be specifically taught some or all of these skills alongside the academic curriculum.
The expanded core curriculum consists of:
- Compensatory or functional academic skills, including communication modes such as braille
- Orientation and mobility
- Social skills
- Independent living skills
- Recreation and leisure skills
- Career education
- Sensory efficiency skills
You can find out more about the expanded core curriculum on our website:
We’ll talk about how to develop specific orientation and mobility techniques in future posts!