For years, Leader Dogs for the Blind had to turn down requests for guide dogs because the applicants did not have adequate orientation and mobility (O&M) skills. In many cases, O&M training was not available in the areas where people lived or even if it was, it was not offered in a format that worked for everyone who needed it.
That’s why we began offering our accredited Orientation & Mobility Training program.
Orientation is knowing where you are in your environment and where you want to go. Mobility is being able to safely move through the environment to get there. Our program is “accelerated” because we train clients one-on-one for a week to quickly get them traveling independently with a white cane. (Most O&M programs offer a few hours of training once or twice a month over a longer period of time.)
One recent client, Bob Rock, admits that he knew very little about how O&M training would help him. “I’ll be totally blind eventually and I wanted to learn how to get around,” he says. “Erica, my instructor, showed me the different ways to cross intersections, read traffic using my hearing, and remember streets.”
Since returning home, Bob has been finding real enjoyment in putting him O&M skills to good use. He walks 25–40 miles each week through his home town and on trails at a local park. He’s also noticed a difference in people around him: “They used to blow by me when they didn’t realize I couldn’t see. Now the white cane lets them know I’m blind.”