Orientation and Mobility is about knowing where you are so that you can get where you want to go and travel there safely.
O&M specialists work with people of all ages, who are blind or have low vision. We offer training in the use of mobility aids, orientation to the environment, realistic assessment of limitations, vision education and development of sensory awareness.
We equip clients with the skills and concepts they need to move safely and confidently through their environment, be it moving from the bed to the toilet during the night, getting to school, catching a train and a bus to get to work, going bushwalking or taking a world tour.
Two clients of the same age, with the same degree of vision impairment will function quite differently. Why? Because their upbringing, life experiences, attitudes to change, level of support, confidence, fears, interests and motivation are different. There is no reason why they should be the same. This is why O&M training is tailored to suit the needs of the individual client.
The Orientation and Mobility profession in Australasia embraces the following roles:
- O&M Specialists (aka O&M Instructors) form the majority of the profession. They work with vision-impaired clients of any age, with single or multiple disabilities.
- O&M Teachers are dual qualified as O&M Instructors and registered special education teachers who work primarily with clients under the age of 18.
- O&M Assistants operate under the guidance and support of an O&M Instructor to reinforce strategies being learned by the client.
- Neuro O&M Instructors are O&M Instructors who specialise in working with clients of any age who have a neurological vision impairment from acquired brain injury or malformation.
- Developmental O&M Specialists specialise in working with children, and are currently only trained and employed in New Zealand.
- Guide Dog Mobility Instructors are dual qualified as O&M Instructors and Guide Dog Instructors. They usually work with vision-impaired clients over the age of 18, focusing on guide dog travel.