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Orientation and Mobility – Providing Services Virtually

Over the year, we reported on many wayfinding apps. Early on we explored how Orientation and Mobility is delivered in remote areas of the U.S. and abroad. Since then, most if not all of you have returned to providing in-person services, but some ingenious ideas implemented then could still be helpful.

Tactile Maps and City Tours in Chicago
Many instructors created tactile maps and shared them with their students during the time when nearly everyone was on lockdown. At the Chicago Lighthouse, a city tour guide and their own mobility instructor, Jaret Bozigian, partnered to provide students two virtual tours via Zoom, including one of the winding streets of Chicago’s Chinatown. Prior to the tours, Bozigian created 3-D tactile maps and mailed them to the students’ homes. In addition, there is a website that allows users to put in an address and generate a tactile map of the surrounding area:Touch Mapper Through a group lesson students learned about street numbering systems and public transportation. During the tours, Bozigian used directional language to guide the students through their tactile maps and describe directions and street crossings, including those unique Chinatown streets and alleys, while the guide described points of interest and local architecture. 

Harnessing Technology in San Francisco
At the San Francisco Lighthouse, instructors working on indoor mobility had students walk down hallways with their phone on a lanyard so the teacher could observe cane movement and had a spouse video her husband, a brand new white cane user, walk down a grassy path. Another teacher had students “share the screen on their smart phone through Zoom [the videoconferencing app] so I can monitor what they’re doing. It can be challenging when they are using [the iPhone screen reader] VoiceOver, because I can’t hear what their VoiceOver is saying. One student called me using her Amazon Echo so that I was able to hear her use VoiceOver on her iPhone.” Lots more O&M ideas in this newsletter article 

Tandem Software Use Leads to Success in Maryland
Dona Sauerburger, a COMS (Certified Orientation & Mobility Specialist) from Maryland, offers practical instructions for “Teaching Street-Crossing Concepts and Skills Remotely” on her personal website. After installing the APH software “Crossings with No Traffic Controls” on the student’s computer as well as her own–and Team Viewer free remote desktop software to allow the student to control her computer–she was able to complete the lesson successfully and includes the videos to prove it.