O & M

The orientation and mobility (O&M) guy was here last evening. VisionAware, American Foundation for the Blind, says orientation is the ability to know where you are and where you want to go. Mobility is the ability to move safely, effectively, and efficiently from one place to another. In my case that means not falling over dishwasher doors and NOT becoming roadkill.

I had been impatiently waiting for the O&M specialist for close to three months. Having him show up was sort of like hitting the lottery. The regional Blindness and Visual Services (BVS) office is supposed to have three orientation and mobility specialists. It has none. The man who came out to see me is a freelancer and BVS contracts with him. This truly is a rare breed.

Anybody know anybody who needs a good job?  The O&M guy said he thought the average pay is around $40,000. The website I found said $52,000. Not bad.

I was told Pennsylvania has two colleges that offer degrees in orientation and mobility. Salus University is just outside of Philadelphia. It looks as if Salus offers both a certificate program and a master’s degree program. Much of the coursework is on-line although weekend and summer trips to complete the practicum part of the course are required. Also, the Salus website indicated there are a number of states that will fund scholarships if you are interested in becoming an O&M specialist.

The University of Pittsburgh, aka Pitt, also offers master’s degrees and certificate programs in orientation and mobility. Much of their classwork is done on-line as well. There are, of course, on-campus requirements.

Pitt lists a whole bunch of cool things future O&M specialists get to learn. They not only learn how to use mobility devices but they also learn how to make use of residual vision and increase visual efficiency. They learn how to teach the use of auditory, visual and tactile maps and also to teach the ability to use mass transit.

I will get into some more of the history and skills of orientation and mobility on the next page I write. Right now suffice it to say O&M specialists are needed all over the country and possibly even around the world. Jobs to do worthy work are going begging. If you know anyone who is looking for a rewarding, fairly well-paying job, suggest he look into becoming an O&M specialist.

Writter 8/4/2016

Next: Have CanE Will Travel

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