One of the requirements of an orientation and mobility specialist working in an itinerant service delivery model is to recommend the type and amount of O&M service for each student. This decision is often made in a variety of ways, but this recommendation is critical in ensuring student success. There are two types of service provided to students with visual impairments:
Direct instruction from the O&M specialist, and
Support for others on the educational team, including other special education and general education teachers, paraeducators, family members, related service providers, other school personnel, and community partners.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires that instructional goals be based upon evaluation of present levels of performance (United States Department of Education, IDEA, 2004, [§300.320(a)(1)]. The Service Intensity Subcommittee of the Texas Action Committee for the Education of Students with Visual Impairments embarked on a journey of creating a tool that connected itinerant TVI service recommendations to Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC) programming based upon student need as demonstrated in the results of student evaluations, the VISSIT for TVIs (Pogrund, Darst, & Munro, 2015). With the success of the VISSIT for TVIs, the subcommittee was asked to create a similar tool for O&M specialists.
Evaluation, instruction, and collaboration in the ECC area of Orientation and Mobility are the primary roles for an O&M specialist. Therefore, the O&M VISSIT was developed around the scope and sequence of orientation and mobility skills. Evaluation for students with visual impairments related to O&M includes all relevant evaluation results, including results from the student’s current O&M evaluation, evaluation of other areas of the ECC, functional vision evaluation, and learning media assessment.
Based on evaluation results, an O&M specialist will use the O&M VISSIT to determine the recommended amount and frequency of O&M services. For the purposes of this scale, services are defined in two separate categories. The first type of service addressed on the O&M VISSIT is direct intervention from an O&M specialist. The second type of service addressed by the tool is collaborative consultation from the O&M specialist with members of the student’s educational team, including family. A student may have a very high need in some skill areas of O&M, but some team member other than the O&M specialist may be providing the service to meet this need (e.g., concept development may be an area of high need for the student, but the TVI and special education teacher could be providing the majority of the services in this area.) Family support needs are crucial for ensuring carryover and generalization of orientation and mobility skills, and they are included as a separate element in the scale.
The O&M VISSIT will help develop recommendations for the amount of time for O&M instructional services (direct and collaborative consultation) per individual student. The O&M VISSIT does not consider any other factors other than student need. Other factors that might impact overall O&M specialist workload are not addressed by the O&M VISSIT. These workload factors include material preparation, travel distances between schools, number of IEP meetings, or case management time.
Based on an initial validation study conducted in 2017, it was determined at that time that the O&M VISSIT is a moderately valid and moderately reliable tool that can be used to recommend amount of service in O&M for students with visual impairments.