Orientation and Mobility Specialist - LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired (2024)

POSITION: Orientation and Mobility Specialist (bilingual preferred)

REPORTS TO: Assistant Director Rehabilitation Services

STATUS: Exempt

Role Overview

The Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist (COMS or NOMC) provides in-person and virtual orientation and mobility to blind, low-vision deaf-blind youth, adults, and seniors from diverse backgrounds. The Orientation and Mobility Specialist will conduct assessments and provide training reflecting recent and progressive travel and orientation techniques and trends, focusing on student’s travel needs in the home, work, academic sites, and community.

The OMS must have the ability to assess and teach to differing skill levels, as well as to train on varied mobility devices and options such as:monocular, tints, GPS Apps, and use (i.e., Blind Square, Google Maps), Audible Pedestrian Signals and tactile maps (public streets, transit hubs, and public spaces and buildings). It is expected that all OMS’s provide instruction that takes into consideration understanding of student’s abilities and potential concomitant health conditions. Knowledge and understanding of primary eye conditions, including Cortical Visual Impairment is imperative. Knowledge of health associated with aging, head injury, diabetes and mental health and developmental disabilities is extremely helpful. Together the OMS and the student develop and revise goals to achieve the student’s intended mobility outcomes.

Flexibility and ‘thinking outside of the box’ are essential to this position. The philosophy of our trainers is that of facilitation of skills for independent (as defined with each student) travel. Our team also provides training with the student using a training shade where best applied for learning and instruction. The OMS must be able to work with and provide information and training to family and friends, community members, volunteers and service providers and effectively communicate and collaborate with referral agencies in providing services to shared students. The cross-cultural community of the LightHouse is increasing, and second language ability is preferred and cultural sensitivity to disability is integral to this position. The duties of the OMS may include (but are not limited to): conducting of assessments, writing individual training plans with the student, and facilitating individual and group instruction as needed. Additionally, the OMS may be requested to coordinate specific training projects with colleagues or represent the LightHouse in the community, this may be ongoing or short term. Orientation and mobility instruction may occur virtually (Zoom), on-site of LightHouse facilities, in the home, workplace, academic sites or the student’s community, including travel on all forms of San Francisco Bay Area-wide public transportation and Paratransit.

While most of the training occurs throughout the greater San Francisco Bay Area, the OMS must be open and flexible to working from all LightHouse locations and sometimes beyond, as needed for special projects. Additionally, the OMS must be able to balance their training schedule to accommodate week-long seminar training Enchanted Hills Camp and Retreat; immersive training in San Francisco with our Guide Dogs for the Blind collaboration (orientation skill development) or travel to locations outside the greater bay area overnight to accommodate training for students who live outside the area. Training may occur in either urban (all areas of a city) or rural settings. The OMS may also be asked to teach and assess for urgent and basic daily living skills. The OMS is a professional within the Lighthouse Training Team, sharing resources, recommendations, referrals, and skills with each other. All our training team practice hone their teaching skills under occlusion as needed, providing feedback, and discussing strategies for training.

Diversity and Inclusion: LightHouse intentionally and actively works to minimize barriers to employment faced by many marginalized groups. As a result, we welcome applicants from diverse backgrounds and abilities, including but not limited to applicants who possess various disabilities, racial and ethnic backgrounds, sexual orientation, gender identities, and ages.

Minimum Qualifications:

Education or equivalent: University Master’s Degree or BA in Orientation and Mobility or MA/BA with National Orientation and Mobility Certification (NOMC) from the National Blindness Professional Certification Board (NBPCB). If, COMS, then Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals (ACVREP) preferred (needed to work with VA).

Experience: A minimum of two years teaching Orientation and Mobility preferred. A history of teaching basic independent living skills (home-to-work skills) with adults and/ or seniors necessary.

Other: Fluency (speaking, reading, and writing) in Spanish, Cantonese, ASL or Russian preferred. Multicultural teaching experience preferred; excellent verbal and written communication skills; strong interpersonal skills to relate to staff, blind and visually impaired students, and persons in the community with varied backgrounds and viewpoints. Strong user of Smart Phone/Tablets, Microsoft Office Programs and databases and virtual platform(s) (Zoom), essential. Ability to travel throughout the LightHouse service area (private vehicle or public transit). Current CPR and First Aid certification required.

An ability to formulate individual, sequential training plans. Knowledge of Smart Phone accessibility related to O&M and Braille/tactile mapping experience desired.

Job Responsibilities and Qualifications:

  • Assess individual needs of students and set goals for instruction.
  • Provide professionally written student assessments, goal development, and training summaries / recommendations, monthly to all third-party contracting sources (such as the Department of Rehabilitation, Veterans Administration, Regional Center, and other third-party vendors).
  • Maintain weekly and monthly database entries regarding units of service provided to students, along with notes, goal-planning and reports for all direct services provided.
  • Function as Agency liaison in traffic, community transportation services and auditory signal issues or projects as requested.
  • Provide cane travel, route travel with dog guide users & teams and human guide instruction.
  • Maintain updated information regarding Paratransit programs, providing registration assistance and training in the programs, as necessary.
  • Provide orientation and route training in all environments and on various forms of public transit.
  • Assess for and teach basic and essential independent living skills to blind and low-vision students such as labeling, money organization, use of an ATM, and home safety practices (5-minute lessons).
  • Provide training in a range of all indoor and out-of-door environments: all urban city environments, rural environments, professional and academic campuses and buildings, homes, skilled nursing facilities etc.
  • Facilitate or co-facilitate classes, including our Changing Visions, Changing Lives immersion and community workshops.
  • Conduct outreach, training and collaboration with local universities and school’s disabled student programs, in providing campus orientation.
  • Conduct student home safety assessments and community agency environmental evaluations.
  • Provide consultation and/or training to staff in community agencies regarding environmental modifications and strategies in collaborating with persons who are blind or low vision.
  • Attend and participate in All-Staff meetings, monthly Consumer Review, and departmental meetings (Training Services).
  • Timely completion of requisite documentation, billing, reports etc. in a timely manner (monthly). All completed in Salesforce Database.
  • Participate in Agency public outreach and education as requested.
  • Maintain timely communication and responses to students (within 48 hours of referral).
  • Maintain professional communication via e-mail and voice mail on a timely and ongoing basis.
  • Other Duties: Please note this job description is not designed to cover or contain a comprehensive listing of activities, duties or responsibilities that are required of the employee for this job. Duties, responsibilities, and activities may change at any time with or without notice.

Supervisory Responsibility

Supervise and provide instruction to Orientation and Mobility Interns as requested. (Must have MA/ACVREP Certification plus three years’ experience for Intern supervision.)

Physical Requirements

Physical stamina and the ability to work indoors and outdoors and walk up to 7 hours at a time (all terrains including stairs). Ability to work during inclement weather. Requires the ability to lift 25 pounds on a frequent basis and up to 50 pounds on an occasional basis with the assistance of another person as needed.

Working Conditions

The Orientation and Mobility Specialist is expected to follow directions from state, local government, and public health officials regarding the wearing of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE). As a result, this job may be required to be performed using a mask and gloves for the protection of this employee, all Lighthouse employees, and students. The OMS will follow all COVID-19 Guidelines in working with students, including ensuring all students (and family members of students) wear PPE during their training with the student (at the LightHouse and/or the home of the student).

  • LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired is an equal opportunity employer to all. Qualified applicants are considered regardless of age, race, color, creed, national origin, ancestry, marital status, pregnancy, disability, medical condition, genetic information, gender identity, sex, sexual orientation, religion, military veteran status, political affiliation, height, weight, or any other factor unrelated to the job.
  • We strive to maintain a scent-free environment and a drug-free workplace free of harassment, in accordance with California law. Employees are expected to behave in accordance with these objectives.
  • All LightHouse employees are hired for an indefinite and unspecified duration and consequently, no employee is guaranteed employment for a specified length of time. Employment is at the mutual consent of the employee and LightHouse. Accordingly, either the employee or LightHouse can terminate the employment relationship at any time, with or without cause (“employment at will”).


Please send a cover letter and résumé as Word attachments (no PDFs please), to hr@lighthouse-sf.org, including the job title in the subject line. We will not consider videos or hyperlinks to online profiles. Due to time constraints, we will only respond to complete submissions in which there is serious interest. Thank you for your understanding.

Orientation and Mobility Specialist - LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired (2024)


What does an orientation and mobility specialist do? ›

Orientation and mobility (O&M) specialists teach individuals with visual impairments to travel safely, confidently and independently in their environment. They work with infants, children and adults usually on a one-to-one basis in a home, school, hospital or in the community.

What is orientation and mobility for the visually impaired? ›

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 are the four basic techniques in orientation and mobility? ›

Using a cane and other devices to walk safely and efficiently. Soliciting and/or declining assistance. Finding destinations with strategies that include following directions and using landmarks and compass directions. Techniques for crossing streets, such as analyzing and identifying intersections and traffic patterns.

What would be most useful for orientation and mobility training for a student with visual disability? ›

Teachers can help their students with low vision or blindness practice orientation and mobility skills at school in a variety of ways. Some of those ways including trailing, modeling movement concepts, planning a treasure hunt, and letting students explore using their cane.

What are examples of orientation and mobility skills? ›

  • Travel using a sighted guide to familiar locations. ...
  • Travel indoors using rotely learned routes. ...
  • Travel to various school areas or buildings using rotely learned routes. ...
  • Create new routes between familiar places indoors. ...
  • Execute a route, given a set of verbal directions, to an unfamiliar location within one building.

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.

How do orientation and mobility specialist 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 most common mobility and orientation device used by individuals who are blind? ›

The long cane is a mobility device for individuals who are blind or who have low vision. When used properly, canes help users to detect obstacles, drop-offs, and changes in ground surface.

What are 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, ...

What is most useful for orientation and mobility training? ›

Orientation and mobility training for people with low vision

Orientation and mobility (O&M) training teaches people to use their remaining vision and other senses to get around. Canes and optical aids may also be used.

What are the three stages of the orientation process? ›

Onboarding: The 3-phase model
  • Preboarding or preparation phase - time before the 1st working day.
  • Orientation phase - from the 1st working day to approx. 3rd month.
  • Integration phase - from the 3rd month to approx. 6th month.

Which visual acuity is considered to be legally blind? ›

Legal blindness is defined as a visual acuity of 20/200 or worse, with the best possible correction, or a visual field of 20 degrees or less. Visual acuity alone cannot indicate how much a person's life will be affected by vision loss.

What can an orientation and mobility specialist do to help students with visual impairments navigate the classroom? ›

On a postsecondary campus, an O & M specialist could help an individual plan campus routes, apply techniques for safe indoor and outdoor mobility, and analyze intersections and traffic patterns. These services are typically available through state agencies that coordinate services for people who are blind.

How can visually impaired learners be helped? ›

Assistive devices ranging from a simple magnification sheet to an iPad or tablet can offer print-enlargement to support reading, as well as voice-recognition software as an alternative form of reading. For children with low vision, contrast is an important factor in seeing text.

Why become an orientation and mobility specialist? ›

O&M is a profession specific to the fields of vision education and rehabilitation that teaches skills and concepts needed for safe movement and travel. Visual impairment, including blindness and low vision, brings unique challenges to independent movement and travel.

What does orientation and mobility training include? ›

Orientation is the ability to recognise one's position in relation to the environment, whereas mobility is the ability to move around safely and efficiently. Orientation and mobility (O&M) training teaches people to use their remaining vision and other senses to get around. Canes and optical aids may also be used.

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