The Department of Blindness and Low Vision Studies at Western Michigan University has won two Rehabilitation Services Administration grants totaling nearly $1.5 million to strengthen recruiting efforts and increase the number of highly qualified vision rehabilitation therapists and orientation and mobility specialists over the next five years.
Orientation and Mobility for Working-Age Adults
Orientation and mobility is an exciting discipline in low vision and blind rehabilitation that teaches people to travel safely, efficiently and independently in their environment. Orientation is the process of mentally organizing the environment and determining one's location within that environment. Mobility is the act of moving through the environment in a safe and graceful manner. An orientation and mobility specialist teaches people who are blind or visually impaired to travel by:
- Assessing an individual's current travel-related skills, discussing goals and helping the individual to select a program of instruction that will allow for achieving the greatest travel potential.
- Teaching people to travel by using their hearing, remaining vision and other senses.
- Teaching people to use a long cane for travel and to establish and maintain orientation while traveling.
Orientation and mobility specialists work with people across the lifespan, from infants to senior citizens. The majority of clients on an orientation and mobility instructor's caseload tend to have some remaining vision. It is also common to have clients with additional disabilities such as traumatic brain injury, hearing impairments, physical impairments or cognitive impairments.
There has been a national shortage of orientation and mobility specialists for several years. Individuals willing to relocate generally have little difficulty in finding employment. Orientation and mobility specialists may work in schools, at agencies for the blind or visually impaired, at Veteran Administration Medical Centers and at universities and colleges. Many orientation and mobility specialists, after gaining experience in the field, contract to schools and agencies as part of their own private practice.
Orientation and mobility is a profession of highly trained, caring individuals who are committed to providing the best service to each client and who are committed to a professional code of ethics. Many professionals in the field are members of the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired and are certified by the Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals, which are professional organizations that govern the field.
Program costs - Find information about tuition and fees here.
News and Updates
For more information about Western Michigan University's orientation and mobility program, contact Dr. Dae Kim at firstname.lastname@example.org or (269) 387-3447.
For information about WMU's orientation and mobility program for children, contact Dr. Dawn Anderson at email@example.com or (269) 387-5944, or Dr. Robert Wall Emerson at firstname.lastname@example.org or (269) 387-3072.