How Orientation and Mobility Increases Academic Performance

Do you have Orientation and Mobility Specialists who work for you, but you aren’t 100% sure what they do?

Orientation and Mobility Specialists teach people with visual impairments how to travel. But there is so much more. However, given the low incidence rate of students with visual impairments, these related service personnel are often the only ones that do what they do in any given district.

Today we are chatting about:

  1. What is Orientation and Mobility?

  2. How can Orientation and Mobility services increase academic performance?

  3. How can I support the Orientation and Mobility Specialists who work for me?

What is Orientation and Mobility?

In short, Orientation and Mobility is one’s ability to know where they are in space (Orientation) and know how to travel to where they want to go (Mobility).

As Orientation and Mobility Specialists, we know that what we teach is one of the leading reasons that people succeed in their daily lives. But since it’s such a low incidence situation, not a lot of administrators even know what we do, or how important our jobs are.


How Orientation and Mobility Increases Academic Performance

Orientation and Mobility services increase academic performance from the foundational perspective. While this may not seem to impact the data that comes across your desk, Orientation and Mobility does impact academic performance.

Here are three examples of How Orientation and Mobility Increases Academic Performance:

  1. Incorporating Proprioceptive and Vestibular awareness skills so that the student can focus on the academic skills at hand.

  2. Teaching the brain how to get out of a room and the layout of the room, so the brain can again focus on the academic tasks in front of them.

  3. Teaching the student how to pick up their cane, get out of the classroom, and travel to another class so they cut down on academic time wasted traveling.

  4. Decreasing learned helplessness so the student can travel to work and within a university campus, which ultimately allows the student to reach their transition goals.


How does Orientation and Mobility Differ from Physical Therapy?

It differs from Physical Therapy in that PT works on body mechanics, body awareness, motor development specifically to the FAPE level. O&M works on all of that PLUS: How to get to classes. How to pick up your cane and get to class on time. How to travel independently in the neighborhood. How to get to work. How to get around their home, classroom, and community.


Visual Impairments account for 90% of our incidental learning. Incidental learning is the learning that happens in conjunction or outside of the school time. It’s learning that the jam is stored in the cabinet. It’s being able to look around the room and see where the line starts, what books other students are picking up from the shelves, and all of those unspoken things that we pick up by looking at them.


Orientation and Mobility Specialists have their hands tied. They are either tied by the direct service time they have with their students or they are tied by situations out of their control. They may not have access to the environments they need to teach in. They are doing the best they can within the budget and time restrictions.

How you Can Support your Orientation and Mobility Specialists

We are hosting an online conference for O&M Specialists so they can get better at their jobs, spend less time trying to google the answers to their questions, and provide more impactful service to your students so the students can reach their goals faster.


Because it is online, your O&M Specialists don’t have to travel. They don’t have to cancel all of their students to attend either. We are recording all of the sessions and will be offering recordings of each session for up to a week afterwards.

Do you have any questions? Send me an email at kassy@kassymaloney.com. I am happy to answer your questions!


 How Orientation and Mobility Increases Academic Performance

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