A student with a white cane and an instructor walk on a crosswalk.
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Travel skills: assessment and skill-building for Orientation and Mobility

As students with visual impairment transition from high school, orientation and mobility (O&M) training is critical to help them access and safely navigate their community.

As students prepare to transition from high school, it’s important to consider the support and training that they will need to access the community. For individuals with visual impairment, this travel training is called orientation and mobility (O&M). 

Orientation is the ability to know where you are in your environment and where you want to go. Mobility is the ability to move safely and effectively while traveling utilizing sighted guide, cane skills or a guide dog.

O&M is the set of skills that students who are visually impaired need so they know where they are in their environment and how to move safely and independently while traveling. The primary goal of O&M instruction is to help students become as independent as possible while moving through the world.  

For some students, this assessment and training will focus on using a white cane to get to work, access a college campus, or simply go for a walk and cross the street safely.  For others, instruction may focus on using a wheelchair, guide dog, or some sort of assistive technology to build critical travel skills needed to access their world with fading levels of support. 

Some goals for O&M training include:

  • Encourage problem-solving
  • Practice safety
  • Maximize cane skills
  • Understand public transportation
  • Work with a sighted guide  
  • Develop spatial awareness
  • Master street crossing 
  • Engage with rideshare services

Skill progression 

What does progress look like in building these skills? These are some steps you can take to develop experience and create confidence in your student:

Resources 

Assessments

Here is an examples of a tools that we use to assess executive functioning skills at Perkins. It is intended to be administered by the student’s school team with input from the student and family. 

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