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Overview of Orientation and Mobility

Overview of orientation and mobility for students who are blind or visually impaired with additional disabilities, including deafblindness

A boy travels down a school corridor using a white cane
A boy travels down a school corridor using a white cane

Orientation and Mobility refers to the field of instruction designed to teach individuals who are blind or visually impaired to travel safely and efficiently from one location to another.  

While Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialists (COMS) and Teachers of the Visually Impaired (TVIs) have different training and different roles in the education of students with visual impairments, there are many ways in which the two disciplines overlap.  O&M specialists often do not view themselves as teaching literacy, but there are, in fact, many opportunities to practice literacy skills during O & M lessons.  Here are a few ideas and we hope you’ll share some of the things you’ve tried!

  • Concept development for young children who are blind or visually impaired, including those who are deafblind or who have multiple disabilities
  • Directionality and spatial orientation:  up/down, back/front, above/below, in front of/behind, in/out, left/right
  • Auditory skills, such as listening and auditory discrimination (identifying sounds, locating sound sources)
  • Map skills
  • Directions:  asking for, giving, reading, writing
  • Recognizing signs, numbers, addresses 
  • Keeping a journal of routes
  • Researching routes

Paths to Literacy does not attempt to provide exhaustive information about O & M, but we do share ideas for activities, as well as blog posts, resources, and technology.  As always, we invite you to share your ideas!

Activity Ideas to Incorporate Literacy into O&M

Additional Resources

For more information about Orientation and Mobility, see also:

Two students using long canes to travel on sidewalk
Tips and guides

Environmental Checklist for Developing Independence

Beaded labyrinth being explored by a student
Activity and strategy

Concepts Learned with a Circular Labyrinth


New Posters and Nemeth Reference Sheets