Orientation and Mobility Specialist - How to Become an Orientation and Mobility Specialist

Orientation and Mobility Specialist

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Orientation and Mobility Specialist Job Description


Orientation and mobility specialists work to help people with vision loss or impairment learn how they can move through their daily environment safely and independently. Highly focused on individual cases, these specialists work in homes, hospitals, and schools with people of all ages, teaching visually impaired people how to confidently and successfully complete their daily tasks.

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Responsibilities

 

People with low vision may need training in how to use technology like GPS to find their way to destinations, and an orientation and mobility specialist helps with that as well as instructing the blind in how to find locations at school or work. They assist blind people in learning how to use guide dogs, and provide motivation and encouragement towards exploring and mastering new fields of activity.

These specialists may also work in a consultative role, helping architects, city planners, and traffic engineers to make buildings, intersections, and other areas more accessible and safe for visually impaired people.

They teach skills in the following areas:

Sensory development

  • Help people maximize all of their senses to help them know where you are and where you want to go

Using senses with self-protective techniques

  • Teach patients how to move safely through indoor and outdoor environments

Cane and Walking Tools

  • Teach others to use a cane and other devices to walk safely and efficiently

Soliciting and/or declining assistance

  • Help patients get comfortable asking for help when they need it, or doing things on their own when you don't. 

Finding destination strategies

  • Teach how to follow directions according to disability and use landmarks and compass directions

Mobility Techniques

  • best practices for crossing streets, such as analyzing and identifying intersections and traffic patterns

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Skills

 

Physical Endurance

Must be able to be physical for many hours to help their patients as needed. They must be able to bend, twist, lift, crouch, kneel, push/pull, and the agility to move quickly and ensure patient safety.

Record Keeping

Must be able to collect and integrate patient histories to solve problems and develop treatments.

Emotional Stability

Must be able to handle the emotional stress of working with impaired patients in need of compassionate health care.

Multitasking

The ability to prioritize and manage multiple tasks simultaneously.

Interpersonal

Must be able to interact with patients and their families regardless of background.

Reasoning

Must be able to apply facts and principles to issues to determine conclusions and solve problems. They must use knowledge and logic to find patters in injuries and determine causes and provide solutions.

Communication

Must be able to clearly convey thoughts and ideas to gauge patient's issues and convey to them the best path to treatment.

Empathy

Must be compassionate and able to empathize with a patient's pain and other difficulties. They are able to make people feel comfortable and meet them at their emotional level to humanize themselves and let people know they care.

Patience

They must understand it takes time to see results and be willing to put in that time. They also must help their clients have patience--especially if they are trying to overcome a difficult injury.

Problem Solving

Must be able to use knowledge to gauge issues and determine the best route to autonomy.

Dexterity

Must work well with your hands and be nimble. You will be put in situations where physical therapy is a must.

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Working Conditions

 

Orientation and mobility specialists facing challenging, highly varied working conditions due to the need to meet the requirements of extremely diverse clients. Their work involves both one-on-one contact with clients while providing mobility teaching services, and offering professional consultative service to government agencies, hospital administrators, healthcare personnel, educational organizations, and others.

A specialist in this field is called on to work effectively in a range of settings – private homes, assisted living facilities, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and so on – while offering clients individualized, compassionate, and effective training in learning how to meet their unique mobility needs. Patience and adaptability are indispensable and the mobility specialist must realize there is no “standard” job or set of solutions.

Orientation and mobility specialists work both indoors and outdoors and usually need to be in good physical condition, as well as good communicators. 

 


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How to Become an Orientation and Mobility Specialist:


Both bachelor's and master's degrees are available today in Orientation and Mobility Programs, with the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired providing lists of schools with these academic offerings. Residency and internship are required for an orientation and mobility specialist in training. Additionally, you can gain certification through the Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals, which also certifies other vision-related medical professions.

 

1. Earn a Bachelor's Degree (4 Years) 

 

You first must earn your bachelor's degree so you can go on to complete a graduate program. There is no set major you should focus on while going for your undergrad, but you will need classes in Biology, Anatomy, Physiology, Chemistry, Physics and Psychology.

Also, you need to keep a GPA of a 3.0 and have a minimum of 21 hours in science courses to be considered for a graduate program. An undergrad course load might look like the following, if you take a pre-profressional or pre-medical route:

 

Grade Level Example Courses

Freshman Year

 

  • General Chemistry I & Lab
  • General Chemistry II & Lab
  • Biology & Lab
  • Calculus I
  • English 101
  • English 102
  • Humanities Requirement
  • Physics I & Lab
  • Physics II & Lab

Sophomore Year

  • Organic Chemistry I & Lab
  • Organic Chemistry II & Lab
  • Fundamentals of Microbiology & Lab
  • Genetics
  • Physiology 
  • Humanities Requirement
  • Electives

Junior Year

 

  • Cell Structure & Function
  • General Virology & Lab
  • Microbial Genetics & Lab
  • Biochemistry I
  • Biochemistry II
  • Physics
  • Electives

Senior Year

  • Upper Level Biology
  • Upper Level Chemistry
  • Upper Level Physics
  • Upper Level Psychology
  • Upper Level Kinesiology 
  • Electives

 

2. Earn a Master's Degree (2 Years)

  

A master's degree program usually requires about 37 credit hours and can be completed in one year. The courses include a practicum and an internship that will give you clinical experience and time with mentors.

Once you graduate from a Master's program and meet all the requirements for certification by the Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals in orientation and mobility you can take the national certification exam. You can take this exam through Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals.

 

A master's degree program can look like the following:

 

Grade Level Example Courses

Fall Semester

 

  • Services for Persons with
  • Disabilities (one credit)
  • Psycho-Social Aspects of Disability (two credits)
  • Medical and Functional Aspects of Disability (two credits)
  • Physiology and Function of the Eye (two credits)
  • Orientation and Mobility for Children (two credits)

Spring Semester

  • Introduction to Methods of Orientation and Mobility (four credits)
  • Electronic Devices (four credits)
  • Principles of Low Vision (two credits)
  • Research: Design and Analysis (three credits)

Summer I

 

  • Gerontology - Orientation and Mobility and Vision Rehabilitation Therapy (two credits)
  • Issues in Independent Travel (two credits)
  • Practice in Low Vision (one credits)
  • Assisted or Independent Research (two credits)

Summer II

  • Principles of Orientation and Mobility (three credits)
  • Practicum in Orientation and Mobility (two credits)
  • Professional Field Experience (Internship) (six credits)

 

3. Earn the Required Certification

 

Get your certification from the Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals (ACVREP) once you meet all the requirements and get your credentials. Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist (COMS) test grants you the certification required to practice nationally.

There may be certain state requirements that vary, depending on where you live. Check with your state to see what kind of requirements you need to meet. 

 

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Salary Outlook

Resources

 

COMS

ACVREP

Exam