What is orientation and mobility?

15 March 2019

For people who are blind or have low vision, orientation and mobility skills are key to enabling them to independently and confidently take on any environment they may encounter. But what exactly is orientation and mobility?

Orientation and mobility is a set of skills that allow for a person who is blind or has low vision to independently and safely navigate their way through their environment.

Orientation vs mobility

Orientation refers to a person’s ability to use their senses to know where they are positioned in their environment.

Mobility refers to the person’s capability and readiness to move in their environment.

Training for all

People of all ages can participate in orientation and mobility training, with the focus of the training differing based on age.

Children will focus on concept development and exploration to develop their senses to position themselves within their surroundings. After learning these skills, they then begin to develop their mobility and become more confident and self-assured when facing new environments.

The needs for an adult can be quite different, for instance they could acquire vision loss later in life and subsequently require extra assistance with navigating a new workplace, university, or route to their child’s school or day care.

Overall, the goal for orientation and mobility training doesn’t change; to equip people who are blind or have low vision with the skills to travel independently and live the life they choose.

Mobility aids

Mobility aids are a huge benefit to many and through orientation and mobility consultations, people who are blind or have low vision can find the aid that suits them.

Mobility aids include white canes, Seeing Eye Dogs and monoculars – small devices which magnifies information such as street signs, public transport route numbers and destination signs on trains, trams and buses.

Newer mobility aids include devices like the Sunu Band, which uses sonar and vibrations to help people detect obstacles.

An orientation and mobility specialist will work with their client to find the right mobility aids for them and incorporate them in to their training, whether that’s being guided, locating dropped items or safely navigating their way across a street or down a busy road.

Start your orientation and mobility journey

Orientation and mobility ultimately comes back to the skills a person who is blind or has low vision learns to know where they are and to get where they want to go safely.

Vision Australia’s qualified orientation and mobility specialists can help anyone who is blind or has low vision to navigate their environment, develop sensory awareness and learn how to use mobility aids. Find out more here or contact us on 1300 84 74 66 or info@visionaustralia.org.