About orientation and mobility specialists
An orientation and mobility specialist is a university-trained professional who works with children and adults who have:
- vision impairment
- conditions or disabilities with related vision problems – for example, cerebral palsy, stroke or other brain injury.
Orientation and mobility specialists teach people to use all their senses – sound, touch, smell and feeling – to notice what’s around them and where they are (orientation). They also teach people how to move around safely and find what they’re looking for (mobility).
Orientation and mobility specialists can advise people about different mobility aids, like canes, smart technologies like GPS, and specialised apps for people with low vision.
Orientation and mobility specialists work with people at home, at school, at work and in the community. This includes at playgrounds, shopping centres, road crossings and on public transport.
Orientation and mobility services are available throughout Australia from not-for-profit organisations, private providers, and some state and territory education departments.
If your child has health or development concerns, health professionals like orientation and mobility specialists are there to care for your child and help you understand your child’s condition and treatment. With the support and expertise of these professionals, you can help your child thrive.
Seeing an orientation and mobility specialist: what to expect
If your child is blind or has no vision, low vision or limited mobility, he might work with an orientation and mobility specialist to build the skills he needs to understand where his body is in space and what’s around him and to choose which way to move.
An orientation and mobility specialist will:
- assess your child’s functional vision and her orientation and mobility skills
- make a plan for the aids and programs that will best support your child’s specific needs
- review your child’s plan and skill development regularly, paying close attention to times when your child needs to learn to move around new places – for example, when she starts secondary school.
Your child might see an orientation and mobility specialist as part of a team of health professionals, including occupational therapists, physiotherapists, optometrists, orthoptists, doctors and teachers.
You don’t need a referral to see an orientation and mobility specialist from your GP or another health professional. But these professionals can help you decide about seeing an orientation and mobility specialist and help you find a service that’s right for your child.
Before going to an orientation and mobility specialist
It’s a good idea to think about the following things before you go to the orientation and mobility specialist:
- Why you’re going to the orientation and mobility specialist: what goals do you have for your child?
- When to start: it’s never too early to start working with an orientation and mobility specialist – even before your child can walk.
- Appointments: do you need to make the appointment or will the GP or another health professional make it for you?
- Costs: some not-for-profit services might be funded through the National Disability Insurance Scheme. Some private service providers charge fees.
- Location: most orientation and mobility specialists will come to your home or your child’s school for the first appointment.
- Waiting list: how long will you have to wait to see the orientation and mobility specialist? Does your child need support urgently – for example, because he’s going to a new school? It’s OK ask to see someone soon if you think it’s urgent.