An Orientation and Mobility (O&M) Specialist provides instruction that can help you develop or relearn the skills and concepts you need to travel safely and independently within your home and in the community. O&M Specialists provide services across the life span, teaching infants and children in pre-school and school programs, as well as adults in a variety of community-based and rehabilitation settings.
The Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals (ACVREP) offers certification for vision rehabilitation professionals, including O&M Specialists. A Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist (COMS) must adhere to a professional Code of Ethics and demonstrate knowledge and teaching skills in areas such as the following:
- Sensory development, or maximizing all of your senses to help you know where you are and where you want to go
- Using your senses in combination with self-protective techniques and human guide techniques to move safely through indoor and outdoor environments.
- Using a cane and other devices to walk safely and efficiently
- Soliciting and/or declining assistance
- Finding destinations with strategies that include following directions and using landmarks and compass directions
- Techniques for crossing streets, such as analyzing and identifying intersections and traffic patterns
- Problem-solving skills to determine what to do if you are disoriented or lost or need to change your route
- Using public transportation and transit systems.
- O&M instruction is usually conducted on a one-to-one basis, and can take place either in the community where you live and/or work (called “itinerant O&M”) or at a rehabilitation center (called “center-based O&M”).