Academic journal article Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness

Getting There: Advocating for Access to Community-Based Orientation and Mobility Instruction

Academic journal article Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness

Getting There: Advocating for Access to Community-Based Orientation and Mobility Instruction

Article excerpt

Many readers of the Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness (JVIB) are also parents of school-aged children. As a parent, imagine for a moment that you receive a telephone call from a teacher at your child's school, who says, "We'd like to have your child go out with a trained professional to learn how to travel better in the community." You would probably have many questions: "Who is the person who will be with my child? Can that person ensure my child's safety? What if they are near busy streets and areas where there are strange people? Why does my child need this type of instruction?" You might also wonder whether your child will miss important activities in the classroom and whether learning to travel independently will encourage your child to take too many risks. Finally, you might question whether it is really the school's job to teach children to travel; as a parent, you have taught many travel skills incidentally as your child grows older and your family travels in the community or to unfamiliar places.

Professionals who work with people with visual impairments understand the importance of instruction in how to travel in the community at large. Given the significance of such travel, it is easy to overlook the reality that community-based travel instruction is very different from other things taught in schools: Learning to travel requires a child to leave campus regularly with an adult who is not the regular classroom teacher, travel to some lessons by car, go to places where traffic conditions may pose risks, and learn through physical activity instead of through reading, listening, or watching. Although there is now research-based evidence of a link between competence in independent travel and future employment, gathered through analysis of data from the National Longitudinal Transition Study-2 (McDonnall, 2011; Cmar, 2015; Wolffe & Kelly, 2011), it can still be difficult to convince school administrators, parents, and sometimes students themselves of the importance of targeted instruction in community travel.

This month's Practice Perspectives, "Contradictory Instruction of Orientation and Mobility within Virginia's Schools," by Valery Kircher-Herrin, describes the inconsistency of instruction in community-based travel among schools in Virginia. Although both state and federal legislation cited by the author support instruction in this area as recommended by the Individualized Education Program (IEP) team, Ms. …

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