Orientation and Mobility Specialist
Roles, Responsibilities, and Qualifications
Approved by O&M Division membership through mail ballot Spring 2004
(Approval percentage: 99%)
This paper sets out to briefly summarize the roles and responsibilities of orientation and mobility (O&M) specialists that are unique among the professionals who provide services to children, adults, and older persons who are blind or visually impaired. The complete listing of the competencies required of O&M specialists is available from the Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals (ACVREP) and can be obtained by requesting the document entitled, the Academic and Clinical Competencies for O&M Specialists.
A full description of the roles and responsibilities of professionals who provide O&M services, also available from ACVREP as well as
the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER), is set forth in the document, A Professional Standard for the Practice of Orientation and Mobility *.
Role and responsibilities:
The ultimate goal of O&M service is for people who are blind or visually impaired to acquire the skills needed to move about their daily environments safely, as independently as possible, and with purpose. To do this, O&M specialists provide children and adults who are blind or visually impaired with the skills needed to establish and maintain orientation within an environment and move through it safely and efficiently. In addition to developing skills and techniques for safe and purposeful movement, the O&M specialist provides the services necessary to use these skills for carrying out activities in the environments that people use daily, including home, school, work, and community settings.
This is accomplished by interventions that develop skills and techniques to:
Essential responsibilities unique to the O&M specialist include:
- gain information about the environment, and their movement through it, with their remaining senses including kinesthetic, proprioceptive, auditory (including localizing, echolocation, and use of sound shadows), visual, tactile, haptic, vestibular and olfactory senses;
- reliably negotiate obstacles, drop-offs and other hazards in the path of travel through the correct use of the human guide technique, indoor and outdoor self protective techniques, cane techniques, and effective use of visual, auditory, and other sensory information.
- establish orientation to an environment, plan movement through the environment to reach desired destinations, and maintain orientation while moving through environments.
- understand concepts of the body and its position, movements and direction, and of the environment, including the relationships between objects and within spatial systems (particularly for those whose visually impairment is congenital);
- problem-solve, reorient when lost, procure assistance, and deal with the public;
- negotiate complex indoor and outdoor environments that include streets and intersections, commercial retail settings, and public transit vehicles and facilities.
- assessing present and future travel needs, current orientation and travel abilities, and goals;
- assessing environments for travel demands;
- developing goals and objectives for O&M service;
- providing intervention and experiences for independent movement in daily environments at home, school, work, and in the community, including, as appropriate, mass transportation.
Academic knowledge and competencies required to provide orientation and mobility services: