Orientation and Mobility Services
Orientation and Mobility (O&M) is a very important component in the spectrum of services provided to students with visual impairments. In addition to the general education that all students receive, students with visual impairments, starting at birth, also need the Expanded Core Curriculum to meet needs directly related to their vision disability (NASDSE, 1999, p. 70). O&M is one of the related services within the Expanded Core Curriculum for students with visual impairments. Movement, independent or supported, is critical for learning. Orientation & mobility (O&M) is recognized in IDEA 2004 as a related service, which may be required to assist a student with a visual impairment to benefit from special education. Orientation and mobility specialists provide instruction to students whose visual impairment has adversely affected their ability to travel. It is a necessary skill in the achievement of independence. "Orientation" is the ability to know where one is and how to get to a desired location. It includes body awareness concepts, spatial concepts, and environmental concepts. "Mobility" is the ability to safely navigate from one's present location in the environment to one's desired location in another part of the environment. It includes skills such as guide technique, self-protective techniques and cane skills 34 CFR §300.304(c)(4) requires that "the student is assessed in all areas related to the suspected disability" and34 CFR 300.304(c)(6) requires that "the evaluation is sufficiently comprehensive to identify all of the student's special education and related services needs".
What We Do
Referral Process for students with vision loss
- An evaluation of orientation and mobility skills by a Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist (COMS) must be completed, along with the evaluation by a teacher of students with visual impairment (TVI), when establishing initial eligibility as a student with a visual impairment.
- The Eye Medical Report should indicate whether the student has no vision or a serious visual loss after correction, or a progressive medical condition that will result in no vision or serious vision loss after correction. A Functional Vision Evaluation (FVE) analyzes how a student actually performs visually in a variety of environments, including familiar and unfamiliar environments, in different lighting conditions, and requiring the use of both near and distance vision.
- Input from both a TVI and COMS ensures consideration of all aspects of functional use of vision.
- The Functional Vision Evaluation (FVE) must include recommendations concerning the need for an Orientation and Mobility Evaluation, to determine whether there is a need for specific instruction to ensure safe and efficient movement and travel in the home, school, and community.
- Input from a COMS during the FVE provides informed decision-making regarding the need for an O&M evaluation.
- An Orientation and Mobility Specialist teams with the VI teacher when a functional vision evaluation is performed, thus ensuring that all students with visual impairments are appropriately screened for this related service.
Service Delivery Models
- The types of service delivery models available include:
- The ARD/IEP committee determines the appropriate service delivery model and the frequency and duration of services based on the evaluation and recommendation from the O&M specialist.