US Map showing I-90 and text

O&M Activity: The Interstate’s Forgotten Code

Quick video that explains interstate numbering systems!

In a previous post, Concept Development: Own Your Real Estate, we discussed how “fearless independent travelers” begin by being completely confident traveling a small space and then systematically grow their familiar area. These confident O&M students “own their real estate”. A preschooler starts by learning his home and backyard, expanding to his classroom, school, neighborhood, and local community. As the student’s O&M skills progress, the student’s “real estate” becomes the next city over and then next state. . . his world literally opens up!

Does your student understand the U.S. interstate numbering system? Each highway number provides important information! While the majority of students and adults who are blind or low vision may not be driving on highways (at least until self-driving cars becomes a reality!), every passenger should be aware of where they are and where they are going. For students, this helps the student to “tune it” to the trip and to learn more about the area they are traveling in. It’s a great way to build a larger mental map! As an adult, the passenger’s job is to be able to provide directions as needed. FYI: Some of the best navigators that I have traveled with are blind.

The video below explains the U.S highway numbering system and can help students build a baseline mental map of the US!

As an O&M, I typically use tactile maps to go along with the video information. Depending on my student, I might provide the complete tactile map, or I might provide an outline map of the U.S. (with or without labeled cities) and Wikki Stix, and ask the student to show each interstate. 

You could turn this into a “field trip” experience! Let’s take a trip from Boston to Seattle traveling along I-90. What states and cities will we go through? Are there any tourist attractions to see along the way? How long will it take? How far would you like to travel in a day and where would you stop for the night?

The Interstate’s Forgotten Code Video:

Family Trips

Is the student’s family planning a trip? Create an O&M lesson before the trip, so that the student can learn where he/she is going in relationship to his/her home and in relationship to other places in the U.S. If driving, what roads will they take? What roads and attractions surround the destination? Follow up after the trip. What did the student do while on the vacation? Where was that attraction in relationship to where the student was staying? Be sure to involve the parents/family – ask them to take pictures of the trip, create videos and/or audio clips of interesting sounds, and share information about what they did and where they went. Ask the family to talk about the roads as they drive along, the landmarks (such as crossing the Mississippi River, driving along Lake Michigan shoreline, or going through a mountain pass) along with activities that they did in each of these places.

Is a family member traveling for work or pleasure? See the Building World Concept posts below to learn how Logan’s grandmother shared her global trips!

Resources and Activities

By Diane Brauner

Silhouette of child giving a flower to his mom and text

Mother’s Day Activity: Presentation Tech Activity with Self-Advocacy Skills


Where Do Commas Belong? Grammar Activity


Remote O&M instruction for students transitioning to college: Building a mental map