California Association of Orientation and Mobility Specialists

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About Us
Mission  Goals  Bylaws  Membership Information
About O&M  Roles and Responsibilities of the O&M Specialist


CAOMS Officers and Board of Directors 2018


Our Mission

CAOMS is a statewide organization whose mission is to facilitate professional growth and to support the roles of the O&M Specialists in the rehabilitation and education of individuals with visual impairments.

Our Goals

1)  To facilitate professional growth of the members through periodic meetings and conferences; dissemination of pertinent technical and professional information; and informal and formal exchange of knowledge, services and ideas pertaining to the orientation and mobility profession.

2)  To promote and encourage the employment of orientation and mobility specialists where the need for such is indicated.

3)  To provide statements of position concerning quality standards, professional ethics, liability, and service criteria updated as necessary to account for changes in the profession, legislation, population trends, and technology which may be used by administrators, legislators, other government agencies, and consumers as a means for understanding the role of orientation and mobility in rehabilitation and education.

4)  To maintain awareness of, disseminate pertinent information concerning, and propose, support, or oppose legislation on a local, state, and federal level affecting the profession of orientation and mobility, and service delivery in general to individuals with visual impairments.

5)  To promote cooperation among disciplines of professionals and consumers concerned with the rehabilitation and education of individuals with visual impairments.

6)  To increase public awareness of the function and role of the orientation and mobility specialist in the education and rehabilitation of individuals with visual impairments.

7)  To increase the public awareness of the nature, causes, and effects of blindness and of programs serving individuals with visual impairments.


To download a copy of our bylaws click here

Membership Information

To download a copy of our membership application click here

Our membership includes three categories: Active, Student, and Associate.

Active Members are individuals who show evidence of successful completion of an Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER) approved college or university orientation and mobility specialist training program and who have paid the annual dues.

Student Members are individuals who are enrolled in an AER-approved college or university training orientation and mobility specialist training program, and who have paid annual dues. Students members are afforded the rights and privileges of active members with the exception of voting rights, board election, and officer elections.

Associate Members are individuals who are engaged in the education or rehabilitation of individuals with visual impairments, or who are involved in the administration of programs serving individuals with visual impairments, parents, consumers, and other interested individuals who have paid their annual dues.


About Orientation and Mobility

A visual impairment usually affects how the individual learns about and functions within various environments.  The individual with a visual impairment, therefore, will need special skills to understand and become oriented to these environments and to move, travel, and live independently and safely within them.

Developing a conceptual understanding of:

Body image; e.g., planes, parts, laterality, and directionality in relation to objects and environmental feature

Concrete environmental concepts; e.g., grass, lawn, cement, wood, carpet, tile, tree, bush, and street

Spatial concepts; e.g., far, near, close, high, low, above, below, facing, in front of, behind, beside, away from, next to, forward, backward, sideways, and 90-, 180-, and 360-degree turns

Compass direction concepts; e.g., north, south, east, west relationships, sides of streets, names of corners, and relationships among changes in direction

Traffic and traffic control concepts; e.g., fast, slow, parallel, perpendicular, same direction, opposite direction, near side, and far side 

Learning to travel independently at home and at various settings throughout one's school  career

Learning appropriate trailing and protective techniques and techniques for locating objects to facilitate independent orientation and mobility at home and school

Learning to use appropriate sighted guide skills in all travel situations when needed, such as traveling in normal situations; going through narrow passages; ascending and descending stairways; using escalators and elevators; switching sides; seating oneself in chairs, in sofas, and at tables; and establishing and maintaining control of the sighted guide situation with familiar and unfamiliar guides

Learning to use remaining vision and distance low vision aids, as appropriate, to the maximum extent possible for independent, safe orientation and mobility

Developing an understanding of the importance, dangers, responsibilities, and behavior appropriate for independent travel in increasingly sophisticated settings

Developing an understanding of the services various business establishments provide; e.g., grocery stores, department stores, banks, post offices, and shopping malls

Learning to carry out increasingly complex personal business transactions independently

Understanding and being able to use public transit systems

Developing, if nonverbal, a feasible communication system for acquiring information and communicating needs

Learning to use adaptive mobility skills as necessary for use with ambulatory aids, such as wheelchairs, walkers, braces and orthopedic canes, to provide for maximum independent mobility; e.g., bus lifts or rail ramps

Use of alternative mobility devices when appropriate

Being able to develop and travel alternative routes and, if necessary, travel specific routes in limited areas to care for basic needs


Hazekamp, J., & Lundin, J. (Eds.) (1997). Program guidelines for students who are visually impaired. Sacramento: California Department of Education.


Roles and Responsibilities of the Orientation and Mobility Specialist

Instructs students with visual impairments in the development of skills and knowledge that enable them to travel independently, to the highest degree possible, in accord with the students' assessed needs and the students' IFSP/IEP/ITP

        Teaches students to travel with proficiency, safety, and confidence in familiar and unfamiliar environments

        Possesses the skills and abilities necessary to provide and coordinate this instruction

        Provides consultation and support services to families, regular and special education teachers, other school personnel, and sighted peers

        Confers regularly with parents, classroom teachers, physical education teachers, and/or other special education personnel  to assist in home and classroom environmental modifications, adaptations, and considerations and to ensure reinforcement of appropriate orientation and mobility skills that will encourage the student with a visual impairment to travel independently in these settings

        Works with the teacher of the visually impaired to conduct the functional vision assessment as it relates to independent travel

        Conducts assessments which focus on both long-term and short-term needs of the student

        Includes in the assessment report the needs and strengths of the student and an estimate of the length and frequency of service necessary to meet identified needs

        Prepares sequential and meaningful instruction geared to the student's assessed needs, IEP goals and objectives, functioning level, and motivational level

        Prepares and uses equipment and materials for the development of orientation and mobility skills; e.g., tactual maps, models, distance low vision aids, and long canes

        Transports students to various community locations as necessary to provide meaningful instruction in realistic learning environments

        Is responsible for teaching safe techniques to use at all times and in all environments while fostering maximum independence

        Provides orientation and mobility instruction, where appropriate, in the following areas:

Body imagery


Environmental concepts

Gross and fine motor skills related to independent travel

Sensory awareness, stimulation and training

Spatial concepts

Compass direction concepts

Sighted guide procedures

Basic protective and information gathering techniques

Orientation skills

Map skills

Cane skills

Use of residual vision

Low vision aids related to travel skills

Residential travel

Travel in business districts and malls

Procedures for crossing streets, including traffic control signals

Use of public transportation systems

Procedures for use of the telephone for information gathering and for emergencies

Procedures for interacting with the public

Knowledge and application of community address systems

Procedures for travel and independent functioning in places of public accommodation

Skills of daily living

Sensory/motor skills in coordination with the physical or occupational therapist and teacher of the visually impaired

     Evaluates students' progress on an ongoing basis

     Keeps progress notes on each student

       Participates in necessary parents' conferences and meetings

Provides in-service training to regular and special education personnel, sighted peers, and family members concerning the orientation and mobility needs of the student with a visual impairment and appropriate methods and procedures for interacting with the individual who is visually impaired that will foster maximum independence and safety


Hazekamp, J., & Lundin, J. (Eds.) (1997). Program guidelines for students who are visually impaired. Sacramento: California Department of Education.



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