With whom can Ms. Milton communicate, consult, and collaborate to meet the needs of students with visual impairments?
Page 5: Orientation and Mobility Specialists (O&M)
To learn more about Evan and Emily’s needs, Ms. Milton meets with Mr. Garcia, the orientation and mobility specialist (O&M). A related service provider, the O&M is responsible for teaching students with visual impairments the skills they will need to navigate in the classroom, school, and community. Orientation skills help students to identify where they are, where they want to go, and how they can arrive at their next destination. For example, students learn to identify auditory cues (e.g., the ringing of the school bell) or landmarks (e.g., the teacher’s desk at the front of the classroom) to orient themselves to their environment before deciding the best route to their destination.
Mobility skills help students to travel from one destination to the next. For example, students learn protective skills to increase their safety when walking in unfamiliar environments. After talking to the TVI, Ms. Milton learns that Mr. Garcia, the O&M, will instruct and assess Evan and Emily in orientation and mobility skills. In addition, he will provide technical assistance and support to Ms. Milton in these areas.
- Orients students to classroom, school, and community environments
- Teaches specific routes to and from classes and other key locations
- Instructs students in the development of concepts and the use of senses, low vision devices, and mobility devices
- Assesses students’ use of functional vision
- Assesses students’ orientation and mobility knowledge and skills
- Frequently assesses, monitors progress, and records students’ achievement in the Expanded Core Curriculum
Technical Assistance or Support
- Offers input on environmental design in home, classroom, school, and community (e.g., public library) to improve access for students with visual disabilities
- Makes suggestions and proposes strategies to family members and professionals for reinforcing safe and independent mobility skills to travel in various settings
- Consults regularly with students, family, classroom teachers, TVI, and occupational and physical therapists as needed
- Serves as a resource to families for referrals to additional services (e.g., low vision evaluation, recreational ventures, or guide dog facilities)
- Provides input to IEP teams regarding needed services, equipment, and materials
- Trains IEP team members (including family), classroom peers, school faculty, and support staff on orientation skills, human guide techniques, and other travel skills
During the first week of school, Mr. Garcia visits Evan and Emily to teach them how to navigate their new school. He teaches them strategies to independently travel to the office, cafeteria, library, and restrooms. For example, he teaches Evan and Emily to walk to the cafeteria at lunchtime by listening to the voices of their schoolmates as they approach. The increase in volume lets Evan and Emily know they are getting closer to the cafeteria.