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Vision Rehabilitation Week: Orientation and Mobility

Man with white cane and umbrella descending stairway

VisionServe Alliance designated the week of June 10-16 Vision Rehabilitation Week–a perfect time time to write about Orientation and Mobility instruction!

An acquired vision loss later in life from macular degeneration, diabetes, or glaucoma can have a negative impact on how a person gets around. Someone who always drove, may have to develop new skills for getting from here to there. Even walking around the block or taking a jog may prevent new challenges if street signs and traffic is difficult to see. This is where the professional Orientation and Mobility (O&M)  Instructor plays a vital role in vision rehabilitation.

The O&M instructor is a highly trained, Masters level, nationally certified member of the vision rehabilitation team, who works with clients on getting around, outside the home safely and independently, with reduced vision. O&M training may include an assessment with glare filters, like sun glasses for reducing glare, lighting for evening travel, a white cane, GPS skills, learning public transportation, a safe walking route to the store or gym, and so much more.

Your eye doctor may not make a referral to an O&M specialist but they are most often found working for a state agency or local non-profit serving clients with vision loss or blindness. Check with your state’s  vocational rehabilitation services or Unit on Aging—you don’t need a referral from your doctor. Best of all, there is often no charge for these services, or they are available on a sliding scale, to make them affordable for anyone who needs them. As a result, you may have to wait a bit to get this training, depending on their availability in your location.  To find orientation and mobility services near you, call the ConnectCenter at 800-232-5463 and they can get you phone numbers for your state or check out the ConnectCenter Directory of Services at

For those thinking about career options, the O&M profession is a great field full of rewarding experiences and new challenges each day as you work with individuals with a variety of needs and vision loss—everything from low vision to blindness. There is often funding available to help pay for that University Prep Programs and some agencies will provide scheduling flexibility for training and certification.

To get a sense of what orientation and mobility is all about, check out Mike Mulligan’s YouTube channel, Blind on the Move, Caitlyn Blodget’s video on O&M, or some of the workshops at Hadley that include O&M Basics.

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