Orientation and Mobility (O&M) specialists teach children and adults with blindness or vision impairments critical skills to remain oriented in their environment as well as specific mobility skills in order to travel safely, efficiently and as independently as possible within the home, at school, at work and in the community.
O&M instruction is typically conducted one-on-one, tailored to each individual, and includes skills such as effective use of the individual’s remaining senses, concept development, orientation skills, problem-solving skills, use of a long cane or other mobility systems, instruction in the use of optical and/or electronic devices, and travel in a variety of settings including the use of public transportation when appropriate.
O&M specialists work in various professional settings, including public schools, residential schools for students with visual impairments, rehabilitation agencies, and Veteran Administration Medical Centers. There are excellent employment opportunities in the field of O&M due to a national shortage of these professionals.
Master of Science Degree
A full-time, four-semester program, the Master of Science (MS) degree program in Orientation and Mobility (O&M) typically begins in January, although it is possible for a student to begin in the fall semester with prior approval from the program director.
The majority of this program’s curriculum is taught online, with a 10-week summer residency and one additional week in the fall on campus. Founded on evidence- based practice, the O&M coursework is sequentially designed and integrated to ensure that a student’s necessary skills are developed prior to entry into fieldwork off-campus.
Coursework prepares students to work effectively with individuals who have low vision, as well as those who are blind, and to work across generations. Students in the O&M program learn the importance of an interprofessional approach to the provision of comprehensive services. This program provides the coursework and supervised fieldwork experiences required for certification by the Academy for the Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals (ACVREP). Fieldwork and internship placements can typically be secured in the students’ area or nearby.
Certificate Programs in Orientation and Mobility
Successful completion of all certificate programs prepares participants to apply for professional certification by ACVREP and state O&M certification where applicable.
Salus University College of Education and Rehabilitation offers several certificate programs:
For individuals who have completed an academic undergraduate or graduate degree specific to educating individuals with visual impairments, the College of Education and Rehabilitation offers a certificate program in Orientation and Mobility (COM).
This certificate program includes courses taught online, in-person, on weekends and during the summers. It is offered in part-time format in consideration of the demands of working professionals. In collaboration, the program director and students design individual programs of studies to better meet the students’ needs.
COM State Contracts
In addition, Salus University, through the College of Education and Rehabilitation, offers COM programs through contracts with various states. To date, students enrolled in state programs have received full scholarships made possible through collaborative efforts and state and federal funding. Participating states have included Georgia, Indiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, West Virginia, and rural Pennsylvania. Plans are underway to expand to other states.
Successful completion of all certificate programs prepares participants to apply for professional certification by the Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Educational Professionals (ACVREP) and state O&M certification where applicable.