Partners in O&M: Creating Connections in Everyday Life
Orientation and Mobility (O&M) instruction is more than something you learn in a classroom. It affects every aspect of a student’s life and has limitless applications. This makes reinforcing those skills and concepts critical in day-to-day life. That’s where Partners in O&M: Supporting Orientation and Mobility for Students Who Are Visually Impaired comes in. This comprehensive text serves as an introduction to the field of O&M, with a focus on professionals who work in collaboration with O&M specialists to support instruction for students who are blind or visually impaired.
Created by two professors at Texas Tech University, editors Rona L. Pogrund Ph.D. and Nora Griffin-Shirley Ph.D. saw the need for this centralized resource for teachers, other related service professionals, and families. While perfect for prospective O&M specialists and teachers of students with visual impairments, what makes Partners in O&M a fantastic resource is that it is intended for general and special education teachers, physical and occupational therapists, paraeducators, and interveners! To find out how this resource is so effective we interviewed two educators currently using this text in their schools. We wanted to find out why they incorporate Partners in O&M into their coursework and what they think it adds to the field.
One of the most defining characteristics noted by educators is the book is its organization. Robbin Clark, ECC Coordinator at the Utah Schools for the Deaf and the Blind, says she likes the structure, “I like the questions to guide you, the sidebars and examples for students of all visual abilities. The key terms section is very useful.” The easy to navigate and clearly defined resources make accessing the knowledge within the book a breeze.
Clarity & Content
Speaking of knowledge, the resources within Partners in O&M are so valuable that Portland State University (PSU) has made it required reading for their Orientation and Mobility Program. Amy Parker, EdD & COMS, is an Assistant Professor and Coordinator for the O&M Program at PSU. “We use it in our Introduction to O&M and Independent Living course, which is used in the O&M and TSVI preparation programs.” Amy appreciates the book’s emphasis on the use of behavioral principles to support O&M in naturally reinforcing ways.
Amy believes that one of its immediate benefits is that it’s easy to read. “Many times, we are challenged in O&M to explain concepts or ideas to other professionals or to family members. Pogrund and Griffin-Shirley help translate complex ideas clearly.” Robbin agrees, sharing “It’s reader-friendly! You do not need to be an expert to understand. It’s a light read that makes infusing the concepts, skills, content from the book into practice doable.”
Clearly and effectively communicating is just one of the key features that make Partners in O&M so valuable. More foundationally, it conveys the importance of having O&M concepts reinforced throughout a person’s everyday routine. “[The book] positions O&M as a connected field, one that engages a person’s circle of support to promote mobility,” Amy shared. “For a person’s mobility skills to be effective and sustainable, they must have multiple opportunities to practice in real environments. Mobility is bigger than one setting and it should be supported and encouraged by many people. Partners in O&M conveys the role of the O&M Specialist in providing specialized instruction and expands the possibilities for people in the traveler’s life to understand, support, and reinforce mobility, promoting the traveler’s success in multiple settings.”
The takeaway? Partners in O&M provides easy to absorb information essential for everyone involved in supporting students’ mobility and independence. Robbin says her school uses the book for professional development with support staff. “Many support staff benefit from learning how their work crosses over with mobility concepts-not just cane skills.”
Interested in learning more about the methods and information shared in Partners in O&M: Supporting Orientation and Mobility for Students Who Are Visually Impaired? Join us for a webinar with the editors on Monday, November 2nd, at 2:00 PM ET. Learn more and register for Collaborative Partnering in O&M: Now More Than Ever.