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  • Writer's pictureJoAnne Chalom

Behind the Scenes

Updated: Jun 22, 2020

Setting Up Off-Campus Instruction

As a private contractor, I am frequently asked "Are you busy enough?" The short answer is yes.  It is a misnomer to believe that all of the work required to implement and maintain a quality orientation and mobility program can be done during business hours. Some programs have well established off-campus instruction programs, and

some are in their infancy.

If a district has an emergent off-campus orientation and mobility programs they must develop procedures and protocols to ensure the safety of the student and professionals.  Before an off-campus program can commence administrators must understand that the conception of this idea is valid and educationally relevant. Is off-campus instruction an educationally relevant component of a quality program for a student with visual impairments? Yes, the Individuals with Disabilities Act, Sec. 300.34 (c) (7)(i) states

“Means services provided to blind or visually impaired children by qualified personnel to enable those students to attain systematic orientation to and safe movement within their environments in school, home, and community; and (ii) Includes teaching children the following, as appropriate: (A) Spatial and environmental concepts and use of information received by the senses (such as sound, temperature and vibrations) to establish, maintain, or regain orientation and line of travel (e.g., using sound at a traffic light to cross the street); (B) To use the long cane or a service animal to supplement visual travel skills or as a tool for safely negotiating the environment for children with no available travel vision. (C) To understand and use remaining vision and distance low vision aids; and (D) Other concepts, techniques, and tools.”

After administrators agree to establish an off-campus O&M program, the initial stages of

development can commence.  Forms are created and the program grows as the forms

are approved, distributed, and signed by legal guardians or parents.

In the second phase, potential sites need to be scoped out and determined if they are appropriate for the student. Is the area considered, suburban or rural? Is it a residential, commercial, or business district? Is the area within a walking distance to the school or will transportation need to be scheduled? If transportation such as a scheduling a school bus is needed to travel to destinations, coordination with the transportation director is critical.

In the final phase of development, a calendar of dates, times, places, activities must be shared with personnel such as the District Transition Specialist, District Program Specialist, Attendance Clerk, ESE Specialist, ESE teacher and General Education teacher. The first time a student is able to experience off-campus orientation and mobility, it is important to remember to stop by the attendance office to officially have the student signed out and back in once they are back on campus. The Off-Campus Orientation and Mobility Program is an integral part of the O&M Program and it will morph and grow, as necessary.

Copyright. 2020. JoAnne Chalom. All Rights Reserved

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