Orientation and Mobility for Working-Age Adults (2024)

Orientation and mobility is an exciting discipline in low vision and blind rehabilitation that teaches people to travel safely, efficiently and independently in their environment. Orientation is the process of mentally organizing the environment and determining one's location within that environment. Mobility is the act of moving through the environment in a safe and graceful manner. An orientation and mobility specialist teaches people who are blind or visually impaired to travel by:

  • Assessing an individual's current travel-related skills, discussing goals and helping the individual to select a program of instruction that will allow for achieving the greatest travel potential.
  • Teaching people to travel by using their hearing, remaining vision and other senses.
  • Teaching people to use a long cane for travel and to establish and maintain orientation while traveling.

Orientation and mobility specialists work with people across the lifespan, from infants to senior citizens. The majority of clients on an orientation and mobility instructor's caseload tend to have some remaining vision. It is also common to have clients with additional disabilities such as traumatic brain injury, hearing impairments, physical impairments or cognitive impairments.

There has been a national shortage of orientation and mobility specialists for several years. Individuals willing to relocate generally have little difficulty in finding employment. Orientation and mobility specialists may work in schools, at agencies for the blind or visually impaired, at Veteran Administration Medical Centers and at universities and colleges. Many orientation and mobility specialists, after gaining experience in the field, contract to schools and agencies as part of their own private practice.

Orientation and mobility is a profession of highly trained, caring individuals who are committed to providing the best service to each client and who are committed to a professional code of ethics. Many professionals in the field are members of the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired and are certified by the Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals, which are professional organizations that govern the field.

Program costs -Find information about tuition and fees here.

News and Updates

  • Orientation and Mobility for Working-Age Adults (1)

    The Department of Blindness and Low Vision Studies at Western Michigan University has won twoRehabilitation Services Administrationgrants totaling nearly $1.5 million to strengthen recruiting efforts and increase the numberof highly qualified vision rehabilitation therapists and orientation and mobility specialists over the next five years.

Contact us

For more information about Western Michigan University's orientation and mobility program, contactDr. Dae Kimatdae.kim@wmich.eduor (269) 387-3447.

For information about WMU's orientation and mobility programfor children, contact Dr. Robert Wall Emersonatrobert.wall@wmich.eduor (269) 387-3072.

Apply today

If you are interested in being involved in this dynamic field,applyto WMU's program now.If you live outside the United States and are interested in our program, apply through theHaenicke Institute for Global Education.

Orientation and Mobility for Working-Age Adults (2024)


What are the clues in orientation and mobility? ›

Orientation & Mobility experts define clues and landmark as, “any familiar object, sound, smell, temperature, tactile or visual clue that is easily recognised, is constant and has a discrete permanent location in the environment that is known to the traveller.” A clue can include the sounds, smells, temperature, ...

Is there a shortage of orientation and mobility specialists? ›

There has been a national shortage of orientation and mobility specialists for several years. Individuals willing to relocate generally have little difficulty in finding employment.

How long does orientation and mobility training take? ›

Typically, a person with no prior O&M training and little to no useful vision will need three to six months of training to become as independent as their abilities permit. Students who have had previous training can complete the program in three to four weeks.

What are the four basic techniques in orientation and mobility? ›

It defines orientation as a blind person's awareness of their physical position and mobility as their ability to safely and independently move from place to place. It then outlines various techniques including cane technique, sighted guide techniques, self-protective techniques, and general orientation tips.

What are examples of orientation and mobility? ›

  • What is Orientation and Mobility (O&M) ...
  • Orientation to environment. ...
  • Wayfinding and route planning. ...
  • Street crossing. ...
  • Using public transport. ...
  • Using a long cane. ...
  • Obstacle avoidance. ...
  • Spatial awareness.

What are the 4 points of orientation? ›

Orientation: There are four general elements to orientation: person; place; time; and situation. Orientation to person is simply the ability to identify one's name and is the last element of orientation to be lost, usually only in very severe dementia or in psychotic states.

What is the job outlook for orientation and mobility specialist? ›

The overall job outlook for Low Vision Therapist, Orientation or Mobility Specialist, or Vision Rehabilitation Therapist careers has been positive since 2004. Vacancies for this career have increased by 51.52 percent nationwide in that time, with an average growth of 3.22 percent per year.

What is most useful for orientation and mobility training? ›

Orientation and mobility (O&M) training teaches a person with visual impairment to use mobility aids such as a white cane or guide dog and move safely through their environment. Professionals usually conduct sessions one-to-one so they can tailor training to a person's specific needs and goals.

What does a certified orientation and mobility specialist do? ›

A Certified Orientation & Mobility Specialist (COMS), is a highly trained expert who specializes in working with individuals who are blind, low vision or who have functional visual limitations, and empowers them to achieve their life goals for education, employment, avocation and independence.

What is an orientation and mobility assessment? ›

Permission for Transportation O&M Assessment/Instruction

The service of Orientation and Mobility (O&M) evaluates and teaches students with visual impairments to travel safely and efficiently throughout familiar and unfamiliar environments–home, school, and community.

Is Mobility training worth it? ›

Benefits of Mobility Exercises

It can improve your performance and help reduce stiffness and soreness afterward. It promotes good posture and reduces joint deterioration.

How do you become an O and M? ›

Become an Orientation and Mobility Specialist
  1. meets standards established by the Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation & Education Professionals (ACVREP);
  2. has a Master's degree in orientation and mobility; or.
  3. has completed post-graduate studies in orientation and mobility which include:

What are the goals of orientation and mobility? ›

A primary goal of orientation and mobility training is to help each child with visual impairments achieve independent movement to as great a degree as possible. Some children may be preparing to get a dog guide, or learning how to access public transportation to get across town to a job.

What are the four basic rules of orientation? ›

  • The Four C's of Orientation.
  • Clarification.
  • Compliance.
  • Connection.
  • Culture.

How do orientation and mobility specialists assist clients? ›

Orientation and mobility specialists help people with disabilities stay actively involved in society. They teach blind, visually impaired, and disabled individuals how to master the skills necessary to live independently and often encourage them to participate in various educational or recreational programs.

What is orientation and mobility terminology? ›

Orientation and Mobility: Knowing one's spatial relationships to the features of the travel environment and keeping track of those relationships (e.g. mental or spatial mapping, familiarization with the layout of a room, etc.) while moving safely, efficiently, and comfortably within that environment.

What is the relationship between orientation and mobility? ›

Orientation refers to a person's position in relation to their environment. Mobility is the ability to move from place to place. This training combines remaining senses, environmental cues, and planning to help a person create a plan to navigate their home, community, and beyond.

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