Orientation and Mobility (O&M)

It is critical for people with vision loss to have the skills to travel independently and safely. Having the right skills and use of mobility aids enable them to continue with their normal routine, and regain their quality of life.

The importance and benefits of O&M skills include:

  • Overcome the fear of travelling alone
  • The ability and confidence to perform one’s own essential errands without having to wait for others to help

  • The ability to commute to school or workplace independently
  • The freedom to travel to meet friends and hence staying socially connected and active
  • Annie walking on a pavement independently with white cane
  • Orientation And Mobility White Cane User Gerald Walking under HDB block with White Cane talking to GDS staff
  • White Cane User Halimi Going up escalator with White Cane assisted by public member
  • A vision-impaired man walking up the staircase holding a white cane
  • Orientation And Mobility White Cane User Halimi Coming down escalator with White Cane Independently

Orientation & Mobility training is conducted by qualified O&M Specialists at Guide Dogs Singapore Ltd (GDS). It is suitable for:

  • People of all ages and with multiple disabilities.

  • People with varying degree of vision impairment as they will benefit from making the most of their remaining vision, and learn techniques to avoid falls or collision with obstacles.

  • Anyone who wishes to move around independently and not allow his/her vision loss to limit their mobility and routine.

Our Instructors

Orientation and Mobility focuses on two principles:

1

Knowing where you are at the moment using information from the surroundings

2

Getting to a destination safely and independently or with some assistance

It teaches the proper use of mobility aids to ensure safe travel which includes:

  • White Cane

  • Support Cane

  • Sighted Guiding (guiding by a person with sight)

  • Mobile Phone Applications

GDS’s Orientation and Mobility training programme comprises of the following stages:

Our O&M Specialists will first conduct a detailed assessment on the clients’

  • Mobility needs
  • Remaining vision
  • Current support systems
  • Health conditions
  • Schedule

Following that, they will suggest a customised training programme and discuss goal setting with the clients. These are some of the skills taught:

Sighted Guiding

  • This is usually taught to the immediate community such as family members or friends of the clients.
  • It is a safe and respectful method of guiding people with vision loss.
  • Sighted guiding from passer-by is helpful when clients use crossing without audible signals (example: traffic lights with no beep sound).

Indoor Orientation & Mobility

  • Clients learn upper and lower body protection techniques to avoid knocking onto things.
  • Clients with low vision learn to scan the environment to look out for obstacles.
  • Clients learn techniques to retrieve dropped objects.
  • Clients learn to remember the layout of their home/workplace/school in order to move around efficiently.

The Use of White Cane

  • The white cane can greatly reduce the travel anxiety of people with vision loss.
  • It is useful for clients with varying degree of visual impairment, from low to no vision.
  • It helps the user to detect changes in ground gradient and obstacles ahead (example: kerbs, staircases, drains)
  • It protects the user from falls, collisions with pedestrians and bumping into objects.
  • It alerts sighted people to be thoughtful around people with vision loss (example: being more careful to avoid collision)
  • With proper use, it can significantly enhance safety during travel.

For GDS clients with more complex travel routes, they will be taught the following techniques:

  • Navigate by using other senses and mental mapping
  • Use of technology to plan travel routes and wayfinding
  • Learn road crossing with the help of one’s hearing, traffic light audible signals and sighted guide from passer-by
  • Learn to use public transport and understand the interior layout of stations, trains, bus terminals and buses
  • Know how to solicit help to get the information they require

Ultimately, we aim for every person with vision loss to have the confidence to step out of their house, and the ability to travel independently. O&M training is free of charge for Singaporeans and Permanent Residents. Training fees are applicable to residents with long-term visit passes.

Sessions can span from 1 to 3 hours each time, once or twice a week. The first white cane is given free to a client who embarks on a training programme with us. Subsequent canes and accessories are chargeable.

Our Instructors

Simone Oh, Orientation & Mobility Specialist

Simone Oh
Orientation & Mobility Specialist

Cheryl Yeo, Orientation & Mobility Specialist

Cheryl Yeo
Orientation & Mobility Specialist

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