VA Palo Alto Health Care System
Orientation & Mobility
The purpose of participating in an Orientation and Mobility (O&M) program by persons who are blind or who have low vision is to regain independent mobility confidence and safety in all residence and community environments. O&M instruction is provided on a one-to-one basis and is individually tailored based on personal travel goals stated by the student and results of a functional assessment.
Persons who are blind take part in a program to facilitate the development of orientation skills and long cane techniques including the ability to remain oriented, prevent falls, and cross streets in relevant community travel settings that are similar to what the student encounters back home. Upon completion of the program, most students experience a regained sense of independent travel confidence.
Persons with low vision take part in a program that encourages visual efficiency including remedies for sensitivity to glare, success oriented use of optical devices in the community, custom tailored long cane skills, and a functional vision rehabilitation program that helps many low vision program participants improve independent mobility confidence and safety with state-of-the-art techniques that maximize the distance from which they can see curbs, signs, and other relevant pedestrian information.
O&M may also include the development of independent travel skills using transportation options such as Para-transit, city bus systems, and rail systems. For some program participants, developing the ability to travel independently includes use of unique devices, such as electronic travel devices for the blind, a four-wheel walker, a motorized scooter or a power wheelchair, and/or accessible Global Positioning System technology.
A Veteran learns how to incorporate a long cane to increase safety when descending stairs with an Orientation and Mobility instructor.