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  • Writer's pictureJoAnne Chalom

Explain Yourself! and Your Career Choice

Updated: Jun 22, 2020

In the field of Orientation and Mobility, it can be challenging to explain to other professionals precisely what orientation and mobility encompasses. The role of an orientation and mobility specialist does not fit neatly under the definitions of an educator, occupational therapist, or physical therapist.

ThoughtCo. states that “the primary role of a teacher is to deliver classroom instruction that helps students learn. To accomplish this, teachers must prepare effective lessons, grade student work and offer feedback, manage classroom materials, productively navigate the curriculum, and collaborate with other staff”

According to the American Occupational Therapist Association explains that “Occupational therapy helps people across the lifespan to do the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of daily activities (occupations). Occupational therapy practitioners enable people of all ages to live life to its fullest by helping them promote health, and prevent—or live better with—injury, illness, or disability.”

American Physical Therapist Association explains the role of a physical therapist as “health care professionals who diagnose and treat individuals of all ages, from newborns to the very oldest, who have medical problems or other health-related conditions that limit their abilities to move and perform functional activities in their daily lives.”

None of the explanations truly fit the roles of an Orientation and Mobility Specialist. The Maryland School for the Blind explains this role when working with school-age children.

Orientation & Mobility specialists teach students of all ages and abilities how to travel safely – on campus, in the community, in their homes, at their job sites, and any place they need or want to go.

Orientation & Mobility instruction can include sensory awareness, concept development, spatial concepts, orientation skills, human guide travel techniques, functional use of vision, public transportation, and long cane travel. Skills are taught through a sequence of lessons, on a one-to-one basis by an Orientation &Mobility Specialist.”

When working with adults or teenagers, skills such as environmental literacy, intersection analysis, use of low vision devices, applications, and use of paratransit and advocating for changes to the built environment can be areas of focus.


If time is of the essence, then the description is compacted to include a catchy phrase such as “I play in the traffic for a living.” A more detailed explanation includes a description that includes working with individuals with a visual impairment or totally blindness An orientation and mobility specialist is a subject area expert and who works with people and teaches them how effectively implement long cane technique and other techniques to help them traverse their environments, home, school, community, or business environments.

If an extended period of time is an option, then examples of a lesson are discussed such as learning to request the installation of Accessible Pedestrian Signals and other changes to the built environment, analyze an intersection, or understand traffic patterns or sound localization.

The lifeblood of an Orientation and Mobility Specialist is a professional who teaches people with visual impairments the skills and concepts needed to travel with greater independence in their environments such as home, school, work, or communities.

Copyright. May 2020. JoAnne Chalom. All Rights Reserved

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