Click here for a list of O&M specialists who contract in the metropolitan DC / Maryland area.
Building appreciation

Orientation and Mobility Services

Dona Sauerburger, COMS offers orientation and mobility (O&M) services to all people with a visual impairment (see resume).
  • Introduction to orientation and mobility (O&M)


    The following illustrate some of the various stages of orientation and mobility training:

    A visually impaired elderly man wearing glasses holds a cane while Dona talks to him and points to the cane. Basic skills include (among other things):

  • orientation skills and strategies;
  • cane techniques;
  • using sensory information (kinesthetic, auditory, tactual and visual);
  • problem-solving and confidence-building;
  • walking with a guide.

    Thank you to the community for the use of your buildings!
    These skills are usually taught in a large building with stairs and hallways - the more complicated and confusing the building is, the better! The training has taken place in many dozens of churches, synagogues, community buildings and schools throughout Maryland and DC.
    We are very grateful to those who supported our efforts by allowing us to use their building to practice and train in these skills!

    Photo: Learning to use a cane means more than just learning to move it correctly -- it takes practice to notice and use non-visual information without concentrating, especially when distracted with functional vision (see article).

    An elderly woman with a white cane has veered toward the street in a driveway; Dona stands next to her and points out the slope and grass. Outdoor travel:
  • orientation using sun, features and landmarks, etc.
  • Advanced problem-solving strategies
    (includes "Drop-off lesson" -- student is intentionally disoriented in a familiar community and has to reorient without assistance)
  • basic street-crossing skills

    These skills are usually taught in the client's own neighborhood if it has typical features of residential areas.

    Photo: Client learns about slopes and textures that distinguish driveways from streets.

    A young woman with a cane walks across a street, while Dona walks about 10 feet behind.
    Skills for crossing streets are developed for signalized intersections and stop sign or uncontrolled crossings, in residential and urban settings. The advanced traveler has learned to analyze and cross unfamiliar intersections.

    Photo: Street crossing at modern intersections requires advanced skills and concepts.

    A young woman enters a metro subway car, with her white cane on the floor inside the car. Metro, bus and urban travel complete the program.

    Photo: The advanced traveler independently gathers information and plans routes using the Metro and buses to go to unfamiliar destinations by herself.


    People starting a new job, going to school at a new campus, or moving to a new community may benefit from an orientation to help them become familiar with the environment and analyze complex intersections and routes.

    Please note that: Click here for article "Orientation -- What is Our Role?"

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