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Orientation and Mobility

Orientation and mobility skills are a means to get to the world beyond. (Mary Tellefson)

Orientation and mobility (O&M) is a lifelong process that begins as early as the first few months of life. Orientation is knowing the layout of your body, knowing where you are in space and time, knowing where you are going, and how to get there. Mobility is the act of moving from place to place—it may be active (e.g., scooting, crawling, walking) or passive (e.g., wheelchair, stroller, being carried). 

Many researchers and practitioners in the field of deaf-blindness emphasize that movement is the underlying skill upon which all other skills are built, but limited vision and hearing in children who are deaf-blind may inhibit natural curiosity and the motivation to explore and learn from their surroundings. They need environments, learning opportunities, and instruction that encourage and support movement.

Children who are deaf-blind can learn O&M skills, but it requires ongoing instruction from an O&M specialist and the help of the whole team to provide good practice experiences.

Mary Tellefson explains that O&M is a disability-specific curriculum, not a therapy.
Andrew uses an adaptive mobility tool that increases his ability to participate in activities.

References

Oregon Deafblind Project. (n. d.). O&M Level 1 - Instruction

Tellefson, M. (2014), O&M (1 of 3). [Video]. 

Tellefson, M., Brown, C. Bowman, E., & Bellah, E. (2015). Understanding the basics of orientation and mobility skills. [Slide Presentation]. In Introduction to orientation and mobility for interveners – Open hands, open access: Deaf-blind intervener learning modules. National Center on Deaf-Blindness.

Tellefson, M., Brown, C. Bowman, E., & Bellah, E. (2015). Learning to move, moving to learn. [Slide Presentation]. In Introduction to orientation and mobility for interveners – Open hands, open access: Deaf-blind intervener learning modules. National Center on Deaf-Blindness.