RE: Orientation and Mobility Instruction for Children

Resolution Number: 

Resolution 2015-01

Regarding Orientation and Mobility Instruction for Children

WHEREAS, skills in orientation and mobility (O&M) are essential for the successful transition of blind children, including children with low vision, to full and productive lives as adults; and

WHEREAS, local and state laws recognize the use of the long white cane as a tool for both safety and independence for blind people, yet too many school systems statewide do not promote the use of the white cane by blind students; and

WHEREAS, regulations of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Section 300.34[c][7], Related Services, clearly define O&M as “services provided to blind or visually impaired children by qualified personnel to enable those students to attain systematic orientation to and safe movement within their environments in school, home, and community”; and

WHEREAS, although IDEA clearly lists O&M as an essential service for blind and visually impaired children, too often these children are denied O&M instruction because the Individualized Education Program (IEP) team assumes that these children do not need this instruction; and

WHEREAS, another reason for denial of O&M instruction is insufficient evaluations, e.g., only examining a child’s movement in familiar areas, failing to consider environments in different lighting, not requesting input from parents, or not considering such factors as the child’s medically indicated expectation of further visual deterioration; and

WHEREAS, the IEP team should treat O&M instruction as a presumption for youth who have an IEP based on visual impairment, as it does with Braille, unless a proper assessment determines that O&M instruction is not necessary; and

WHEREAS, two states, Maryland and Texas, have incorporated the mobility presumption and stronger evaluation requirements into state law, which will ensure that more students who need O&M instruction in those states will receive it: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Arizona in Convention assembled this thirteenth day of September, 2015, in the city of Phoenix, Arizona, that this organization strongly urge the state of Arizona immediately to enact legislation that contains a presumption similar to the Braille presumption that explicitly states that all blind and visually impaired children need orientation and mobility instruction unless a proper evaluation demonstrates that such instruction is not appropriate for the child.