A man walks down a sidewalk in front of a white brick building with a white cane while a woman walks behind, observing. Both are smiling

Orientation & Mobility FAQs

Our Orientation & Mobility (O&M) Training program is designed to personalize and accelerate your O&M training, offering you the opportunity to learn and enhance mobility skills at no cost to you. Whether or not you plan to get a guide dog, our O&M program will expand your existing travel skills and help you to feel confident in your daily travel. Below are some questions we frequently hear when someone is considering O&M training at Leader Dog.

If you want to talk to a Leader Dog team member about whether O&M training is a good fit for you, what training will be like, or you wish to discuss your application, give us a call at 248.651.9011 or toll free 888.777.5332.

What are the eligibility requirements?

Candidates must be:

  • At least 16 years of age
  • Legally blind
  • Possess self-care and self-medication skills
  • Able to walk for 30 minutes without taking a break, multiple times per day
  • Residents of the United States and Canada who speak English fluently

Can I still participate in O&M training if I don't want a guide dog?

Yes! Leader Dog's O&M Training is open to individuals in the U.S. and Canada who would like to improve their O&M skills whether or not you are currently using a long cane, interested in pursuing a guide dog or currently utilizing a guide dog. See eligibility requirements for more details.

How much does the program cost?

Our Orientation & Mobility Training program (including travel, meals and the training itself) is provided free of charge to clients.

How would I travel to Leader Dog?

Leader Dogs for the Blind pays for public transportation to and from our campus for clients traveling within the United States and Canada. Accepted clients receive instructions for making travel arrangements in their approval letter.

We ask that clients provide travel details (airline, arrival time, etc.) in advance of their class date so that we can arrange to have someone meet them at the airport terminal, train station or bus station.

Where would I stay?

The Polk Residence and Training Center is home to all clients in training; accommodations and meals are provided free of charge. Each individual has comfortable accommodations in a private room equipped with a small refrigerator, television, internet access, temperature controls and immediate access to a secure outdoor area. The facility is furnished with multiple lounges, a fitness center, and a library with books on tape, Braille materials and computers with internet access.

How much should I expect to walk?

You should expect to walk for up to 30 minutes without taking a break, multiple times per day.

What if there is inclement weather?

Our goal is to work in as many environments as possible, both indoors and outdoors. You should expect to work outside in inclement weather, however, if the weather becomes severe, training will occur indoors.

Do you require that I have previous cane skills?

No. Our program is customized to each individual and can be tailored to new and current cane users.

What if I have a special diet?

We have a full kitchen staff onsite that can work with you to meet your dietary needs.

Will I get to interact with the dogs?

The training schedule focuses on orientation and mobility with a white cane. However, if a guide dog is your ultimate goal, your instructor will discuss requirements and recommendations. Additionally, guide dog training and O&M training takes place in similar environments.

Am I guaranteed to eventually get a Leader Dog if I participate in O&M Training?

No. Participation in the program does not guarantee you will possess all of the skills and qualifications needed to work with a guide dog by the end of training. However, our O&M program gives you the opportunity to work one-on-one with an instructor who is familiar with the skills needed to work with a guide dog and who can assess your current skill level, identify the areas that need improvement in order to reach your goal and provide individualized training in those areas. Throughout the training process, the instructor will have open conversations with you about your progress towards your goal.

What happens when training is done for the day?

Training finishes around 3:30 p.m. daily. Clients can expect some homework; however, evenings are typically unscheduled. Clients may plan evening hours as you wish. We have an open campus policy, so you may leave campus to explore the surrounding area or visit with friends and family once training is completed for the day.

May I have visitors during training?

Yes. You may have visitors during your free time but they must follow our visitor policy including checking in with our staff on duty and wearing a visitor badge at all times. You must accompany your visitor everywhere and notify the staff on duty when they depart. For safety and confidentiality reasons, visitors are not allowed in all areas of the residence. Visitors are not allowed prior to 4 p.m. or after 10 p.m. due to our training and staff schedules. We have an open campus policy, so you may leave campus to visit with friends and family once training is completed for the day.

I've already had O&M Training. Why do I need more?

Orientation and mobility is a lifelong process. Over time you can lose skills due to a lack of consistent practice, experience environmental changes (such as an increase in traffic or a move to a new area) or experience lifestyle changes (such as traveling somewhere new for work or to visit friends and family). For these reasons, it may be recommended that you participate in additional O&M training.

Still have questions? We are here to help! Please contact our client services team at clientservices@leaderdog.org with your name and phone number and we will get in contact with you as soon as possible.