When you and I take a look at the employment statistics for people who are visually impaired, we wonder what can be done to improve them; specifically, we wonder how to educate potential employers, and we wonder if there are any skills individuals who are employed have that those who are seeking employment may need to master. Hence, I’ve been reviewing research and articles this morning. I’m discerning the research-based benefits of braille use, assistive technology skills, vocational rehabilitation services, and strong orientation and mobility skills. Today, let’s focus on the latter.
Orientation and Mobility
Adults, your orientation and mobility (O&M) training, or travel training for individuals who are blind or visually impaired, begins as soon as you are aware of your visual impairment. If you recognize you are losing vision, work with an O&M specialist in order to prepare for traveling with minimal or no sight. You will learn to utilize all of your senses as you travel, to navigate spaces while protecting yourself and to utilize a cane or other mobility tools. These skills will culminate into community travel, including planning and executing routes, utilizing public transportation, and safely crossing streets.
Community Travel Skills
What freedom and independence awaits when you can safely and confidently travel throughout your neighborhood, community, country, and world! You can grab lunch, run to the store, catch a movie, meet a friend, take a leisurely walk, explore the world—and why yes, you can commute to work. On the contrary, if you are shaky in your ability to venture into the community without assistance from a close friend or family member, you’re coming and going is restricted—and yes, your likelihood of obtaining and maintaining employment is reduced.
So, what can you do if this is you?
Read "The Link Between Effective Orientation and Mobility Skills and Gainful Employment for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired" and learn how to embark on your journey to strong mobility skills.
Next, read "Why Should Blind or Visually Impaired Individuals Practice Orientation and Mobility Skills" to gain further motivation for your quest to obtain strong community travel skills.
Lastly, obtain O&M services by attending a residential program and/or pursue local mobility training.