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Orientation and Mobility

For people who are vision impaired, blind or deafblind, orientation and mobility training may be an option for them to learn skills to navigate and move around their environment independently and safely with little or no vision.

Linda is deafblind, she is totally blind and has cochlear implants to aid communication, without the cochlear implant processor she is profoundly deaf.

Linda requested orientation and mobility training to increase her independence skills in her local area. Linda wanted the option of going out for regular walks independently to maintain her fitness and she decided that walking the perimeter of the park located next to her home would provide her with some exercise and give her a sense of accomplishment.

Linda has been using a long cane as a mobility aid for many years.  We worked together to establish what landmarks and tactile cues would be useful to Linda along the route.  Tactile cues were vital for Linda to orient herself on this route as she does not have sufficient hearing to make use of auditory environmental cues.  At one point on the route there is a manhole cover that could be used as an auditory cue to turn left.  Linda was unable to pick up the difference in the sound that echoes as her cane scans over the manhole cover, however, with practice she located the cover by its raised surface and by the end of her training over a period of 10 sessions Linda was locating these cues consistently. She is now walking the route two or three times a week.

Linda tells of her experience of orientation and mobility training (0&M) below.

“My name is Linda. I am 53 years old and live with my family.  As I don’t get out and about too much I thought it would be a good idea to learn my way around a park that is right next to where I live.

“The first time I did the walk with Angela, my O&M Instructor, it took me 45 minutes, but now thanks to Angela’s patience and help I am down to 20 minutes.

“It has taken quite a while to learn, as there are lots of fiddly bits to it and when one is blind and cannot hear well one needs to concentrate at a very high level.

“Angela sent me instructions of the route via email and she also had them transcribed into Braille for me.  I studied these notes for a long time and now I can do the whole route without any notes at all.

“It gives me a sense of satisfaction to know I can accomplish something all by myself.

“Thanks to Angela I can now do this walk all by myself.”