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By Diane Barnes, COMS, Region 13 ESC, Austin, Texas

There are factors associated with night travel which are not present during the day (i.e. vehicles headlights, sounds, things/people generally are less visible). These factors could impact a person's confidence and safety (regardless of the presence of a visual impairment). Having a visual impairment could potentially increase a person's vulnerability when traveling at night. Therefore, it is considered best practice that issues related to night travel be addressed as part of all students' O&M evaluation.

Below are some basic criteria O&M Instructors consider when evaluating a student's night travel needs. The student's age, maturity, and cognitive functioning ability are the major factors used to determine how night travel issues will be addressed. This could range from discussion to "simulated" exposure, to varying levels of "real" environmental exposure.

Generally, a student's "independent" night time travel abilities will be similar to his day time travel abilities, with adjustments in the skills being used.

Below is a basic checklist that O&M Instructors use to determine how night travel issues will be addressed -- bold represents that these students will receive a minimum of "simulated" exposure to night travel:

  • student's age - 5 or 9th grade
  • eye condition - eye conditions with characteristic of reduced fields/acuities when lighting is decreased (ie. retinitis pigmentosa)
  • vision prognosis - vision diagnosed as progressive
  • immediate needs - has situations which involves low light / night travel (student is a trainer for the school's basketball team)
  • short term needs - student has upcoming travel circumstances which will involve low light / night time conditions (i.e. will start working on the night shift of McDonald's the next semester)
  • long term needs - - student has after graduation plans that will involve travel under low light I night travel conditions (i.e. will enroll in evening college based classes)
  • requested by student/parent

This questionnaire will help us to more efficiently and effectively meet students' night travel needs. Please provide as much information as possible and include it in the "referral for O&M evaluation" packet and/or "prior" to discussing (telephone, person to person) the student's needs with the O&M Instructor.