Frequently Asked Questions
What is Orientation and Mobility (O&M) – Travel Training?
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 you move through the environment. This can involve the use of a mobility aid such as a long cane, or learning strategies to use functional vision safely and effectively, or a combination of the two.
Travel training involves providing one-to-one training with people who have cognitive or other disabilities to enable safe and independent travel, including on public transport.
What does an Orientation and Mobility (O&M) Specialist do?
An O&M Specialist provides training and strategies for people with disabilities on 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. We look at a person’s cognitive, physical and sensory needs for traveling through a given environment, and develop programs with holistic objectives that promote a person to develop safe independent travel skills.
Download our fact sheet: What is orientation and mobility (O&M)? (PDF version)
What do Orientation & Mobility (O&M) Specialists Assess?
- Functional vision assessments
- A person’s present level of orientation skills, including cognitive mapping skills, ability to follow route directions, spatial updating skills and use of problem-solving strategies.
- A person’s current level of functional mobility skills, including an analysis of overall movement as well as use of formal mobility techniques in various environments.
- Assessment of concept development, including body image and awareness, environmental, directional, and positional concepts, and other travel-planning or community-use-related elements.
- Assessment of auditory functioning in a variety of indoor and outdoor settings.
- Can a person with low vision detect steps/kerbs, terrain changes or obstacles?
- Assessment of other domains of independent living skills, including money management, time management, preferred modes of communication. Much of this aspect of assessment is conducted in conjunction with other professionals including Occupational Therapists.
What does Orientation & Mobility (O&M) intervention Include?
- Individualised training programs with people to enable them to achieve their goals and maximise their independence in home and community settings.
- Developing strategies to maximise the use of personal strengths.
- Developing strategies to interpret and manage environmental information.
- Training people in the use of mobility aids such as the long cane or identification cane.
- Training people to use tools such as monoculars, GPS, iPhone and iPad apps.
- Enabling family members and carers to support program goals.
- Training on public transport use
- Road and traffic awareness, including safe road crossing strategies.
- Referrals to other professionals for other specialised intervention as required.
Download our factsheet on O&M Assessment & Intervention (PDF version)
What are the benefits for the individual?
- Reduced community isolation.
- Increased personal confidence.
- Increased emotional wellbeing through social interaction.
- Increased independence and self determination.
- Increased participation in the community.
What is the length of an O&M program?
Program length is determined by:
- an individual’s learning style
- program goals
- support from family and carers
What are the components of an O&M program?
- assessment– in the home and or local community
- individual training
- family and carer training
- review of training strategies
- review of goals
How do O&M programs support other rehabilitation programs?
- A real life context to support other rehabilitation programs.
- A program focussed on community access that can act as a motivator for people to participate in rehabilitation programs.
- An additional dimension to rehabilitation programs to facilitate the combination of a range of abilities including physical exercise, cognitive skills, and social interaction.
- O&M can facilitate an increase in physical activity, which in turn has mental and physical health benefits.
How can families, carers and other professionals support an O&M program?
Families and carers: Provide emotional support, encouragement, and an opportunity for a person to practise their skills. Families and carers play an important role when we are working with children. Visit our early childhood intervention page for more information.
Physiotherapists: Provide information and support on balance, exercise tolerance, motor planning, and stamina to enhance an individual’s ability to be safely mobile.
Occupational Therapists: Provide information and support regarding activities of daily living tasks such as money handling, motor planning, and organisational skills.
Speech Pathologists: Provide information and support regarding a person’s communication abilities such as self-advocacy, asking for assistance, and requesting information.
Teachers, nurses, work colleagues, and the general public: Understanding how to respond appropriately to a person’s independent mobility skills and requirements.
How is O&M funded?
Fees for our services are negotiated according to individual needs and funding options. These options include:
- National Disability Insurance Scheme
- Better Start for Children with Disability
- Transport Accident Commission (TAC)
- Individual Support Package (ISP)
- O&M can be funded privately – IOM Fee Schedule
- Department of Veterans’ Affairs
What professional training have Orientation and Mobility Specialists received?
Orientation and Mobility Specialists have completed post graduate studies in Orientation and Mobility at various educational institutions around Australia including La Trobe University in Victoria. For details about our specific qualifications, see the About Us page.
What backgrounds do O&M Specialists have before they enter the O&M profession?
Many Orientation and Mobility Specialists have completed an undergraduate degree in a related field such as Health Sciences, Psychology, Rehabilitation or Education before commencing further post graduate studies in O&M.
To find out more about the profession of O&M, you can visit the website of the professional body in Australasia – the Orientation & Mobility Association of Australasia.
What are the National Standards for Disability Services?
The National Standards for Disability Services promote and drive a nationally consistent approach to improving the quality of services. They focus on rights and outcomes for people with disability.
Access the Easy English Disability Standards version.