Middle Childhood Intervention: Module Three – The Professionals

The “O” Professionals

Orientation/Mobility Specialist


Orientation and mobility specialists offer services to children to who are blind or have low vision (Fig. 1). These specialists help children with low vision with two skills:

  • Locating where they are in the environment;
  • Figuring out how to get from one place to another.

girl in glasses

Figure 1.

This helps the child be as independent as possible in his or her environment. Adults who are blind or have low vision are completely or almost completely independent, because of the help of the orientation and mobility specialist during childhood.

At home, the O&M specialist will help the child figure out where different parts of the house are and how they relate to one another. For example, with the O&M’s help the child will figure out where his or her bedroom is in relation to the living room, the bathroom and the kitchen. The child will then figure out how to get from one part of the house to another. The O&M specialist will also help the child orient him or herself in other environments.

The O&M specialist will also help the child function well and independently at school. The O&M specialist can help the child who is blind or has low vision figure out the basic layout of the school that he or she is attending. The child forms a mental map of what the school looks like and where each part of the school is located, in relation to other parts of the school. For example, the child will figure out where his or her classroom is in relation to the bathroom, the cafeteria and the playground. With the help of the O&M specialist, the child then learns how to get from one location in the school to another.

Some of the options suggested by O&M specialist include:

  • Being with a sighted guide;
  • Using a cane;
  • Using public transit (Fig. 2);

public transport

Figure 2. Public transport

O&M specialists often teach  the “self-protective” technique. This shows individuals who are blind or have low vision how to protect themselves as move in their environment.  For example, a person walking in an unfamiliar place can put his arm in front of his body to protect him from any unseen danger. Similarly, a person using a cane usually moves the cane around herself, in order to figure out if there are any obstacles around. For more information, please watch this informative O&M YouTube video.

Children who are blind or have low vision can be quite independent thanks in part to the services provided by the O&M specialist.

For more information about O&M specialists, please visit this website.

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