Providing Orientation and Mobility services virtually continues to be a challenge in the current environment. While there is no replacement for in-person O&M services, in remote places providing mobility can be an ongoing challenge, not just because of geography, but also because of the lack of professionals to do the job.
A report in the International Journal of Orientation and Mobility (2016) described the use of the ROAM tool in Australia. “The client is set up with video conferencing equipment (on loan), which enables the O&M specialist to view video footage of their environment. The equipment includes a smartphone clipped onto a chest harness, and a communication device with speaker and microphone capabilities (for example, headphones with a built-in microphone). The O&M specialist establishes the video connection, and the support person assists with the set-up of equipment for the client. The O&M session then proceeds according to the needs and goals of the client, for example, learning to use the long cane; learning the route to access a shopping centre in a new suburb; and so on. The configuration of the ROAM set-up is quite flexible.
You Live Where? Maximizing O&M Services in Rural and Remote Areas Through Distance Consultation is a presentation from Portland State University in Oregon. Working with paraprofessionals and with families is fully discussed, as well as legal and ethical considerations in providing O&M services
Students transitioning to college work with an O&M specialist to learn the campus and routes to their classes. In a recent blogpost, Diane Brauner at Perkins gives sep by step guidance on how to use a new Maps feature from SAS Graphics Accelerator for virtual training. “O&Ms can now quickly create custom, accessible digital maps that can be shared! Students open the map on their computer and can explore the campus to discover the names of streets, buildings, and landmarks. Find out how here.
Ryan Strunk, an accessibility analyst for Target, spoke about traveling to India and France to Liz Wisecarver on the Blog on Blindness from the Institute on Blindness at Louisiana Tech. In India, Strunk said, “Traffic laws are a suggestion,” “…cows wander around on the side of the road. What would happen if you tapped one with a cane?” In another post, Liz discusses teaching students how to navigate through airports.