Many people hear words orientation or mobility training, but aren’t quite sure what they mean. We explain.
- Orientation refers to knowing where you are by using landmarks and clues around the environment.
- Mobility means moving safely from one place to the other in a safe and independent manner.
Orientation and Mobility training involves teaching a young person with a visual impairment how to move around their environment safely and efficiently. Specific skills are taught by a qualified Habilitation/Mobility Specialist, so that the student knows where they are and how to get there. This can be indoors (such as a new school, or new home) as well as outdoors (the route from home to school). Training is usually undertaken on an individual basis and is often repeated until the young person is able to travel safely and independently and has gained more confidence.
Some of the training may involve:
- concept development
- spatial awareness
- self-protection techniques by using the natural extension of the arm and hand
- route travel
- use of android phone including apps to assist with independent travel
- Using a monocular to utilise remaining vision.
Independent travel helps build self-esteem and self-confidence as the student learns to move.
Often as part of the training (usually at the start of the Orientation and Mobility programme) the young person will be shown Sighted Guide. This is where a person who has been trained in the Sighted Guide technique, guides a visually impaired person and so that they can walk together safely and comfortably.
For information on Sighted Guide, download the Joseph Clarke Service’s booklet ‘How to Guide a VI child’