Standing in the rain by the Perkins School for the Blind fence

Becoming a Hi-Tech Orientation and Mobility Specialist

Tips and resources on how to incorporate technology into orientation and mobility lessons for all types of O&M students.

Hi-Tech O&M lessons? Back in the stone-age when I was in college, we were taught all the traditional O&M skills, such as street crossings, public transportation and cane skills.  Now, our society fully embraces technology with smart phones, tablets, GPS systems, and more.  As a sighted itinerant O&M, I frequently rely on my GPS when driving to new destinations and to find shortcuts between schools. I have instant access to my IEPs, progress reports, student eye reports, contact information, mileage logs, and more on my iPad and my iPhone.  Sitting in my car between lessons, I can jot down or review my notes on each student. TVIs, educators and families can contact me on the fly when a student is absent, if there is a “student crisis”, or if a parent has a question.  When a student is absent, no worries – I whip out my iPad, find a quiet table in the school library and use that time to answer emails, write a report, or plan a lesson.  So yes, I too, embrace technology in my every day life and my professional life.  The big question is (drum roll),  “How can I incorporate technology into O&M lessons so that my students can fully embrace technology into their daily lives for O&M purposes?”

Initially, I started to incorporate technology with my independent, academic students – those students who have strong, traditional O&M skills.  Often, these students are preparing for high school graduation and college.  Typical technology-related O&M lessons included a GPS/navigation app, transportation apps (such as bus apps, Uber/Lyft, and taxi apps), Money Reader, and an introduction to money type apps such as Apple Pay and when possible, banking apps. 

Looking at my O&M caseload, I realized that the majority of my students are not at this more “advanced” level.  So, how do I incorporate technology into O&M lessons for the younger students who are working on their cane/travel skills and are still learning the basic concepts associated with “orientation”?  What about those low vision students who are working to understand mental mapping or other basic concepts? And the biggest challenge – what about students who have multiple disabilities – the kids who for safety reasons will never cross a street independently or travel in the community independently? How do I incorporate technology into O&M lessons for these students?

Thankfully, I am not alone!  There are tech savvy O&Ms who are sharing their technology-related O&M lessons, creative ideas, and favorite apps used for O&M purposes on the Paths To Technology website!  Did you know there is a section of the website devoted specifically to O&M?  Check out a few of the O&M posts available:


Hi-Tech O&M posts for Independent Travelers

Beginer’s Guide to BlindSquare

Sharing Secret Locations Lesson: BlindSquare Lesson Plan

Creating and Using a Point of Interest on a Greenway or College Campus

Ride Sharing Apps: Uber and Lyft (includes great strategies for blind users – including users with a guide dog!)

Tech Time-Out #2 Navigation:  Engineering Camp 2016


Hi-Tech O&M for Students with Low Vision

Creating Low Vision Maps: SAS Gloss App

Using Tracing Apps: Part 2 O&M

Using the Notability app for Orientation and Mobility Lessons with Younger Students with Low Vision


Hi-Tech O&M for Young Students

Hi-Tech O&M Progress Reports

Metronome App-Pro Metronome

BlindSquare Readiness Lesson: Chalk, Walk and Talk (concepts: clock face directions, how far is a yard?)

Using the APH Sound Source to Teach Street Crossings


Hi-Tech O&M for Students with Multiple Disabilities

Cody Went to Sheetz: iBook

Cody’s Favorite LOGOs iBook

Cody’s O&M Adventures: iBook


This is just a sample of the O&M posts listed on Paths to Technology!  Want to learn more about navigation and transit apps, including cutting edge technology such as indoor navigation with beacons? Want to view posts about maps? Do a Technology Search for “maps” to learn how to create digital maps, tactile overlay maps for the iPad, and maps created with a 3D pen; learn about 3D printed maps, how to use Apple Maps with VoiceOver on an iPhone, and so much more!

Today’s students are “natives” to technology – they can teach each other and O&Ms about technology.  Encourage YOUR students to share information on how he/she uses technology for O&M tasks.  Check out Luisa using Maps on an iPhone video post! There is a student section on Paths to Technology written for students and by students!

Every single O&M I have ever talked with has something to share: a creative way to teach a concept, a favorite O&M lesson plan, thoughts about O&M IEP goals, a favorite app and the list goes on.  Do you have strategies for nurturing curiosity and confidence in young travelers as well as how to use cutting edge technology with students/clients of all ages?  Please consider taking a few minutes to share YOUR favorite tech-related O&M lesson.  Interested in posting or blogging on Paths to Technology?  Contact us at [email protected].


By Diane Brauner

Ish book cover with an illustration of a child running with a paintbrush and text: Peter H Reynolds

“Ish” book: Drawing, estimating, and digital table activities

Image of the graphed y = sin(x) equation

Understanding Desmos: Sonification lessons

Black and white image of a lion

Safari animal sounds: ePub and tactile graphic activities