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Versión Español de este artículo (Spanish Version)
By Ruth Ann Marsh, C.O.M.S., T.V.I., Mentor Coordinator, TSBVI Outreach
Abstract: This article includes the tool developed by the Orientation and Mobility Division of the Texas Chapter of A.E.R. to help determine if a visually impaired student should be referred for an O&M evaluation.
Key Words: programming, O&M, screening, travel, visually impaired
In 2002, at the Texas A.E.R. Orientation & Mobility (O&M) Division annual meeting, a committee was formed to find or create an O&M screening instrument that could be used by both certified O&M specialists and teachers of the visually impaired to determine if a visually impaired student should be referred for an O&M evaluation. After reviewing many O&M screening and evaluation instruments, the committee determined that vision teachers should not be asked to evaluate travel skills in a school setting to predict how well students would be able to transfer these skills to other settings in home and community environments.
A vision teacher is trained to evaluate a student's functional use of vision as it relates to the academic environment, but the functional use of vision in academic settings cannot adequately predict the efficiency of vision use in other settings, especially when safe travel is the goal. Since teachers of the visually impaired in Texas are required to address the need for an O&M evaluation when performing a functional vision evaluation, it was decided to identify the vision-related academic modifications that could also indicate the presence of similar difficulties with the use of vision in a variety of travel situations. The following document was then created to provide guidance for teachers of the visually impaired who are performing a functional vision evaluation on a school-aged academic student when addressing the need to make an orientation and mobility referral. Parents and professionals can use this screening tool as they consider the need for O&M training for their students. Similar guidelines for early childhood and/or multiply impaired vision students are in the process of being formulated.
The information on the screening document, as provided below, includes background information, directions, and screening items. The form (39k) in it's original one page, front and back format can be found on the TSBVI Website at http://www.tsbvi.edu/Outreach/seehear/summer04/om-screening.doc.
To: Teachers of students with visual impairments
Re: Guidelines for requesting an orientation and mobility evaluation by a certified orientation and mobility specialist
In IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Amendments of 1997) Orientation and Mobility is included as a related service and described as:
(i) …services provided to blind or visually impaired students by qualified personnel to enable those students to attain systematic orientation to and safe movement within their environments in school, home, and community; and
(ii) Includes teaching students the following as appropriate:
(A) Spatial and environmental concepts and use of information received by the senses (such as sound, temperature and vibrations) to establish, maintain, or regain orientation and live of travel (e.g., using sound at a traffic light to cross the street);
(B) To use the long cane to supplement visual travel skills or as a tool for safely negotiating the environment for students with no available travel vision;
(C) To understand and use remaining vision and distance low vision aids, and
(D) Other concepts, techniques, and tools. [Sec.300.24 (b) (6)]
In Texas, a functional vision evaluation (FVE) can be performed by either a `professional certified in the education of students with visual impairments or a certified orientation and mobility instructor' and must include `recommendations concerning the need for a clinical low vision evaluation and an orientation and mobility evaluation.' [SBOE Rules£89.1040 (c)(12)(A)(ii)(1)]
When determining the need for an orientation and mobility evaluation, it is advisable to have some form of documentation to support the decision. An orientation and mobility specialist has access to many O&M screening and evaluation documents, but these usually refer to student activities not frequently observed by a teacher of the visually impaired (TVI). Additionally, IDEA clearly states that students with visual impairments attain `systematic orientation to and safe movement within their environments in school, home and community.' This necessitates that any assessment used to determine the need for orientation and mobility instruction address the visually impaired child's ability to travel safely and effectively in all three named environments.
One way to assure that the need for instruction in travel skills is adequately addressed is to have a certified orientation and mobility specialist participate in the functional vision evaluation, especially in the required portion wherein the need for an orientation and mobility evaluation is addressed. Or all visually impaired children can automatically be referred for an orientation and mobility evaluation by a certified O&M specialist. However, when it is necessary for a teacher of students with visual impairments to make this determination without the assistance of a certified O&M specialist, the TVI can examine the listed modifications required for the student. Many of the modifications needed in order for students to benefit from public education also indicate the need for special training to develop the ability to travel safely, successfully and efficiently in home, school and community environments.
On the reverse of this document are listed modifications/adaptations for classroom instruction that also would indicate the need for special instruction in safe, successful and efficient travel in a variety of environments. If any of these modifications are required for classroom instruction, the child should be referred for an evaluation of travel skills by a certified orientation and mobility specialist.
Editor's Note: Below is the material mentioned as being on the reverse side of the document.
Instructions: When determining the need for an orientation and mobility evaluation by a certified orientation and mobility specialist, the need for any of the following modifications for classroom instruction could also impact the student's ability to travel safely, efficiently and successfully in the school, home and/or community environments. Therefore, referral for an O&M evaluation should be made.
Additionally, if a student with a visual impairment needs instruction in any of the following disability specific core curricula area, an evaluation to determine the need for instruction in travel skills in school, home and community environments should be conducted by an orientation and mobility specialist.
Whenever the following events occur for a visually impaired student, a COMS should automatically be directed by the ARD committee to perform an orientation and mobility evaluation:
O&M Screening form (39k)
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Last Revision: September 1, 2010