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(This document is written to accompany the “Orientation and Mobility Curriculum at
South Australian School for Vision Impaired”)
1 Contents etc.
2 Individual program page
3 Class Teachers, General Approach, Shared Lessons,
4 Beginner Environmental Concepts, Body Concepts, Tying Shoelaces
5 Indoor Numbering System, 8 Little SASVI Ducks
6 Introducing Canes, 321 Stop, Swimming Pool Noodle
7 Skipping, Collect the Mail, CCTV
8 Pre Road Safety Skills, Road Ready Program, Left/Right
9 Tricycles with Steering Handles, Tagalong behind a bike, Tandems
10 Bikes with Gears, Walkie Talkies
11 Clockwise & Figure 8, Parallel and Perpendicular
13 Telescopes continued
14 ID cane
15 „A Student‟s Cane‟
16 „Mobility for A Student‟
17 „Mobility for A Student‟ continued
Handout pages (see pages 12 - 17) are written to share information with parents and
other professionals regarding mobility concepts and terminology and/or when a
student is given their own cane. Information is useful for out-of-school times or when
a student attends another school part time or is preparing for transition etc. These
pages are sometimes useful to support the student who does know how to use their
cane etc but cannot convince others.
The „O&M Curriculum at SASVI‟ is for school age students.
For younger children, and those with additional disabilities, who are functioning at
early stages of development, the following two documents are available.
“Spatial Awareness for O&M” is a 13-page sequential checklist for children from 3
months to 6 years.
“From Rolling to Running – A Mobility (and Orientation) Program” is a 22 page
collection of activities relevant to O&M for children from 3 months (learning to roll)
to 6 years (running).
Both of these are available - just email firstname.lastname@example.org and please put
O&M or similar in the subject line, so I know it isn‟t spam.
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To plan a program for each student attending SASVI, the following page is used. It
can be updated during the year; and by adding dates (examples in brackets), gives a
quick overview of the spread of activities undertaken so far.
ORIENTATION AND MOBILITY PROGRAM – 2008 Student:……………..
O&M HISTORY – SUMMARY
CONCEPT DEVELOPMENT (23/4; 05/5)
SENSORY DEVELOPMENT (7/3)
MAPPING & COMPASS
CANE & MOBILITY SKILLS
A similar format is used for O&M comments presented to the Negotiated Education
Planning meeting between school staff, parents and other professionals early each
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CLASS TEACHERS etc.
Obtain up to date vision, hearing and medical information from class teacher.
Check with class teachers for student‟s language development.
May give copies of the Body, Spatial and Environmental checklist pages to the class
teacher for them (or Student Services Officer) to use as part of student‟s language
Check with class teacher for previous or current / planned mapping activities.
Obtain permission to observe the student arriving to school (safety around vehicles)
and classroom; and exiting at break times, as well as in the playground.
Observe, or even better, join in class activities such as sports or art, to build rapport.
Students frequently ask, “What are we doing today?”
My standard answer is “Let‟s see what‟s in your folder.”
At the end of the previous lesson we will have written up the notes / summary of that
lesson together (as a form of recap.); and many students write up their own notes as
well – it is interesting to read what they got from the lesson. Usually we write a brief
plan for the next lesson. So this is what‟s in the folder; however I am happy to „do a
deal‟ to make the most of fine weather or student interest in a different activity
(usually one they have heard a classmate did recently); so that we change the plan for
today, but agree to „catch up‟ next time. Even with young students, this partnership
approach works well for maintaining enthusiasm and encourages the student to take
some responsibility for their O&M.
I have shown (or read to) students the whole curriculum document, and they are often
very interested to know where they are working – it is also sometimes useful to
„convince‟ students to work on a topic that is not preferred – “Well it‟s in the
Curriculum, so I guess we just have to do it”.
“You be leader” is an effective way to find out what the student remembers or can
problem solve for orientation. One benefit is to see students who do know where they
are going, start to take safe and efficient short cuts. Another is the opportunity for
some reasoning practise when I ask how they know where they are (Nearby
Considerations etc.) and decision making when I suggest an inefficient or wrong route
Each student attending SASVI has an individual lesson planned each week, however
there are occasions where it is an advantage to have two students together. The first
example is for a student new to the school, where they accompany a classmate to help
overcome initial nervousness and so the classmate can show the type of work done in
O&M. For riding scooters, trikes and bikes it is useful to have another student to
practise riding safety etc. Road crossings, walking to the shops, using public transport
etc are often very different activities when another student is there to be a role model
or distraction – it is a good test of which behaviours have been internalised. Sharing
Walkie Talkies (see later) with a classmate is a very motivating activity. Two students
practising cane skills together is often very successful.
When adults visit school and come to an O&M lesson, I try to use them for the
student to practise asking to be guided; and then observe how effectively correct
technique is followed and whether the student can give useful directions. At other
times I‟ll ask the student to explain how they use their cane, or why they use an ID
cane, rather than a long cane; or to explain the map they are working on.
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BEGINNER ENVIRONMENTAL CONCEPTS
One activity at SASVI, which gives a good indication regarding a student‟s
understanding of Spatial and Environmental concepts for students with functional
vision, is to put a recognisable object such as a full page „Smiley face‟ facing out the
window on the opposite side of the room from the door. Then ask the student to „Lead
the way, out the door…….. to see where Smiley face is looking”.
For students without useful vision, a ticking timer (on a ledge touching the window
from outside) can be used, but trailing skills etc. need to be developed first.
Some of the Body Concepts, such as names of body parts are necessary for teaching
skills like cane use – wrist, pointer finger etc; or describing features in the
environment – „the bench is as high as your knee‟ etc.
Some of the movements need to be checked for safe mobility - such as standing on
one foot, which impacts on safe and confident walking on steps and stairs. (Going
down stairs has been described as a „series of controlled falls‟). One way to develop
balance on one foot is the „Pirate walk‟ (think of a pirate with one wooden leg). The
technique is to walk along a raised edge, with one foot up and one down – I start
along the side of a gym mat and walk all the way around, then change feet and return;
then use a long flat piece of timber, then find edges out in the yard and playground.
Hopping can also develop one-foot balance and stamina. Hopscotch can involve using
residual vision and O&M skills walking to and from the hopscotch markings in the
neighbouring school playground
Squatting is very important for safely retrieving dropped objects – idea is to squat
behind a vertical cane, rather than bend at the waist and hit your face on an obstacle.
If students have trouble squatting, I use the wooden ladder attached to the gym wall,
but instead of climbing up, the student keeps their feet in the floor and „walk‟ their
hands down the rungs until they can touch the floor or ring a small bell attached on
the bottom rung or pick up objects etc.
Learning to tie their own shoelaces is one benchmark that is difficult for some
students. It is important for personal safety and developing independence, but
practising in class where others can already succeed can be embarrassing and result in
denial, avoidance, anger etc. However practising tying shoelaces in a 1:1 O&M lesson
is usually accepted, and the eventual success helps build rapport.
One good resource is “Do It Yourself: Encouraging independence in children who are
blind”. By the Royal Blind Society and The University of Sydney.
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INDOOR NUMBERING SYSTEMS
Fortunately we have room numbers/names designed for low vision and blind students.
The signs have high contrast raised printing and Braille and are all the same format.
We have made copies the same size and colour from laminated card and attached
Braille. So learning about Indoor Numbering at SASVI is a highly motivating
matching game. We start with the student‟s own classroom, those nearby and the
O&M office. I can present the cards in order 1-6, so as to make a logical route to
walk; or mix them up for more of a challenge. Some students have offered
information I did not expect such as naming the teachers associated with each room.
Students seem to quickly understand common uses of names and alternatives such as
the „Independent Living Skills‟ room is commonly called „ILS‟ or simply „Cooking
room‟. What is written as „O&M‟ needs some explaining but most students just then
say „Mobility Office‟. Small rooms introduce the use of „a, b, c‟ for example „Music
room a‟ which is clearly different from the main Music room.
The symbols and wording on toilet door signs offered another opportunity for
matching by making separate small cards of the male/female symbols and attaching
them to the main card by Velcro – so I can mix them up for the student to then
Once students have started working on their map of SASVI, these cards can be used
to match the relevant room shown on the map. Simply place a small piece of Blu-tac
on the card and have the student move it from the card to the correct place on their
8 LITTLE SASVI DUCKS
This is a pre mapping activity using a storybook called “10 Little Rubber Ducks” by
Eric Carle, which was turned into an activity pack (called a Sense Sack) by staff in
our Braille production unit. This story had 10 ducks and two useless directions („over
here‟ and „over there‟), so I modified it to suit our environment at school.
It is motivating for younger students who enjoy the story and then move small rubber
Two laminated cards are used – one square, with „Up, Down, Right and Left‟ in print
and Braille and a moveable arrow in the centre to spin and point in the direction stated
on that page of the story. The other laminated card is round, like a compass, and has
„North, South, East and West” on it and its own arrow.
We begin on the table, moving one duck at a time, then returning then to the box, with
lots of discussion, including how „up and north‟ go together as do „down and south‟.
Next we spread out, so a duck might go west to the cane cupboard or east to sit in my
hat, south to look out the window etc. The movement and repetition soon allow the
students to develop familiarity and confidence with the language and concepts. We
have even moved a small table out to the middle of the courtyard and had ducks
visiting the art room and checking out the staffroom fridge! Lots of good mobility.
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One (of many) advantage of attending a school specifically for students with Vision
Impairment is that using canes is perceived as normal – no stigma or reluctance to be
different from peers, because they are nearly all using either a Long cane or an
Identification (Symbol) cane. Some students who are blind or have very low vision
already have a Long cane when they start at SASVI – the others are given one ASAP.
Sometimes they only use it during O&M lessons and look forward to being allowed to
keep it. Identification canes are used only during relevant O&M lessons, for students
with more vision, for several years, with the result that some even begin to
impatiently nag me about when can they finally have their own to keep. Usually this
is around years 5 or 6, but may be earlier to take it on an extended family holiday or
for students who are part time enrolled at their local school. The habit of using an
Identification cane is well established before public transport training starts, and
definitely before year 7 students begin transition to a high school.
TWO CANES are often better than one – I carry and use a cane (with an identical tip)
and walk in front of the student, so that any sound from my cane just „previews‟ what
the student is about to hear from theirs. This is very effective in directing the student‟s
attention to where it should be – their cane, rather than my voice and words I might
use to try to describe things. Changes in ground surface (from concrete to asphalt
etc.), kerbs, steps, poles, rubbish bins, fences, gates even puddles are easy to indicate.
This also works for demonstrating echolocation and even the socially correct practise
of deliberately finding a person‟s foot with a cane, (rather than bumping into their
body) when walking up to talk to them.
3, 2, 1 STOP
To give students a verbal preview – such as approaching an obstacle, steps, kerb etc, I
always count down “3,2,1 stop”. (It works much better than counting up – will you
stop after 2 or 3 or what?). I use this whether the student is using their cane
independently, trailing a surface or walking across open space etc. It avoids guessing,
frustration, wasting time etc and builds up confidence between us. For longer
distances I start counting at 5 or even 10, plus can change the speed of counting when
necessary to make a point.
SWIMMING POOL NOODLE
A pool noodle (soft, light-weight foam cylinder) is used as a „pretend post or tree‟
when introducing body protection techniques, which we simply call „Bumpers‟ (see
Handout page re Mobility). It is a fun, non-threatening item that I can hold in front of
the student so that an incorrect „Bumper‟ results in contact. It usually quickly
becomes a game. I have also used it on the bike track to encourage visual scanning
and „defensive riding‟.
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Skipping is another „benchmark‟ skill that some students have difficulty with. So,
practising it during O&M can help. I begin with a Hula Hoop that has been cut
through so it can be held open – roughly U-shape (Gaffa tape on the cut ends is good
for safety and grip) and swung more like a rope, with the hands at the sides. Then we
move on to a rope and maybe share with a classmate for the long rope technique.
COLLECT THE MAIL
Collecting the mail involves students in using their O&M skills to locate the Front
Office and letter boxes, as well as practising communicating with less well-known
adults (various adults staff the desk in SASVI and Kilparrin); carrying, using and
returning keys; and carrying letters. The walls where the letterboxes are located are
the major landmarks when walking into and out of the school, so the idea of a
boundary and safety considerations beyond there can be discussed. Landmarks for this
journey are added to the map students fill in. Students can practise the skill of
„Saying the Route” before and / or after completing the task.
Some older students also enjoy collecting the mail as a service to help office staff.
Young students, with Low Vision first notice the CCTV when they are invited to have
a look around the Mobility office. The CCTV is already on, with their name showing
– I use individual plastic letters to make the name. Even Reception students recognise
their own name and quickly become interested in the CCTV. It can then be used to
explore flat toys and shapes, make other words with the letters – the students enjoy
correcting me when they find a letter upside down or their name misspelt etc. A list of
room numbers etc can be used for matching with the Indoor Numbering cards. When
students have begun creating their own map, they like to check it under the CCTV.
The CCTV can be used to introduce the idea that maps look down from the top (a
bird‟s eye view) and ignore some features that exist, but are not seen from the top, or
are not relevant for our purpose. We sometimes pretend to remove the roof of a
building to draw a map of what is inside.
By changing the magnification, an understanding of scale can be introduced in that
the larger and more detailed each object is, the less can fit on a screen or page and
conversely, to fit in more objects, each one has to appear smaller and less detailed.
The horizontal page versus the vertical screen may need some explanation.
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PRE ROAD SAFETY SKILLS
Young students have helped me carry boxes of scrap paper to the recycling bins,
which are across the staff car park. So we practise road safety skills in this area where
we have time to stop and discuss when it is safe to cross the driveway. The students
learn to check for traffic, including bicycles, and then say clearly “IT‟S SAFE” or
“IT‟S SAFE TO CROSS”, then we walk, with absolutely no chatting while crossing
– the only thing that can be spoken about is any immediate safety issue. I definitely
avoid the question of “Are there any cars?” to which the student is supposed to say
“No” and then say “Yes, we will cross now”!!? Of course there are other dangers than
cars – so will we walk in front of a bus? What about all the parked cars or those that
have passed by already? Later on students often enjoy correcting other staff,
especially their class teacher, when we all walk to the local shops together and an
adult chats while crossing a road.
ROAD READY PROGRAM
The Road Ready Program was issued to all Primary schools years ago and more
recently a SACSA supplement was issued to align activities with current State
Curriculum. There are 9 booklets in a red plastic „box‟. It is probably on a Library
shelf or in a cupboard somewhere. It was designed more for class activities, but
individual sections are very relevant for O&M and there is a lot to choose from.
Many of the diagrams are difficult for students with low vision and there are no
Tactual resources at all. Some of the wording needs attention – worksheet 1:1:1 has
the students reading, “When I grow up, I will drive a car” – this will probably not be
the case for most students with Vision Impairment.
However, by enlarging work sheets, using the CCTV or working verbally and the
adult scribing answers; or choosing worksheets that the student can manage, much of
this valuable resource is very useful. Younger students enjoy playing matching games
with bits of Blu-tac as markers or playing guessing games when pictures and words
are covered with small post-its.
LEFT / RIGHT
One source stated that on average, children learn left/right about age 6; but it is so
useful for O&M that it is worth teaching ASAP. Check with the classroom teacher to
find out if it is a whole class activity – some have a few days wearing a paper bracelet
on the left hand or similar idea.
In O&M I use the usual trick of making a letter L with the left thumb and pointer
finger, then use a bright coloured post-it note on that hand if students have difficulty
with the Beginner Spatial Concepts A5. I also use post-its for the Intermediate Spatial
activities, especially those involving recognising my left side.
The „human shape model‟ is a wooden figure approximately 40cms. tall, which has
moveable joints and does not look anything like a doll. On this figure we can attach a
short Wikki stix bracelet on the left wrist and note the change of position relative to
the student as the move the model around. An extension activity is to ask the student
to say aloud which limb they intend to move on the model, and to what position – this
can become as involved as “I‟ll move the right arm up until it is horizontal and
parallel to the table top”.
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TRICYCLES WITH STEERING HANDLES
Several bike manufacturers in Australia now make modified bikes for people with
disabilities. One I have found very useful is a tricycle with a handle attached to the
back – not just for pushing (or stopping the eager rider), but also for steering. At
SASVI, we have a small one for young students plus a large one capable of
adult/teenager use. Some students are happy to climb on and start pedalling, but others
want (need) to explore it first. I have been surprised at some students with very low
vision managing to push the trike and understand the sideways movement of the
handle to steer, as well as allowing for the width and length. Other students have had
great fun „taking me for a ride‟ on the large trike – on the track and off.
With the student sitting on the trike, an adult can prompt „left‟ and „right‟, then
immediately reinforce the correct movement.
Students enjoy the moment when I let go of the steering handle, and run up in front,
so they are doing it themselves. Most handles can be easily removed for safer riding
TAGALONG BEHIND A BIKE
Many adults attach a „Tagalong‟ behind their own bike to take their young child
riding. Advantages are mainly that the child is safely connected at all times and will
always keep up, even if they don‟t pedal. The movement is more natural than a bike
with trainer wheels – but this can be scary for students who are blind or vision
impaired. After some description and plenty of time for exploration, I stand next to
the bike and Tagalong, holding both very steady while the student climbs on. First
thing is for them to try back pedalling – they have to have feet on pedals (i.e. off the
ground) and it gets then moving. Next I ask them to wobble the Tagalong as much as
they dare – they feel they have some control and learn that wobbling isn‟t so bad. I
then walk the bike and Tagalong and ask them when they are ready for me to climb on
and start pedalling. Soon we are taking it in turns to have a „free ride‟ while the other
one pedals. Note: some of the joints between the bike and Tagalong move up and
down plus sideways; this is okay until you turn very sharply, then the two joints
combine to let the Tagalong fall sideways. Check this without a student on it, and be
careful when walking the bike/Tagalong combination.
Tandem bikes have been used with people with Vision Impairment for many years. At
SASVI we have used them for very capable students with low vision to team up with
peers who are blind. I learned the hard way to stand with my feet spaced very wide
when the student behind me tries pedalling backwards as soon as they get on –
however, once I am ready for it, this is still a good way to get their feet up on the
pedals to start off. They can be responsible to get the pedals in the correct „power
position‟ ready to start. If the student tries to start with one or both feet on the ground,
timing and balance are very difficult – they may also then put feet down too early
when stopping, which is dangerous.
I use tandems to take students out of school and experience road riding or exploring
nearby bike trails. We also can cover distances more quickly than walking to move
around the local suburb to find street names and landmarks for mapping exercises.
After riding for a few minutes and turning several corners it can then be a good
orientation exercise to ask the student to navigate the way back to school.
The addition of a speedo, that also shows distance travelled, has added an extra
dimension to our tandem riding.
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BIKES WITH GEARS
Running alongside or riding another bike behind students with Vision Impairment as
they try to learn how to manage gears on a bike doesn‟t work very well.
Instead I attach the bike to an Indoor Trainer, which fits on the rear part of the frame
and has a pressure wheel that can be adjusted against the bike‟s back tyre so it works
like an exercise bike. No running, no riding behind and yelling instructions, and can
be done on rainy days. This is also a good place to demonstrate the dangers of long
shoelaces or baggy trouser cuffs. The importance of using the ball of the foot on the
pedal can be practised – more power and less likelihood of the foot slipping off (if
using toes on the pedal) or dragging toes on the ground (if using heels to pedal).
I set the gears to Low and 1, and then have the student start pedalling at a steady pace;
then I change the Low-Medium-High side while the student changes 1-6. I explain the
need to be pedalling while gear changing, but not with too much force. When in High
6, I move to the rear wheel and lightly touch the spokes with a rolled up piece of
paper – the sound gives a good idea of speed. Next I demonstrate how this High 6 has
speed but little power, by pushing the pressure wheel against the spinning tyre with
my foot – it is easy to over-power the student and slow or stop the bike, then the
student will find that it is difficult to start in High 6. Once moving again, we change
gradually down to Low 1; then I try (valiantly, but unsuccessfully) to stop the student
who now has more power but less speed – demonstrated by the rolled paper again. We
discuss why I use paper for my safety and to avoid damage to the spokes. The student
can also learn and practise which handbrake lever works the rear brake and which one
doesn‟t – leading to a discussion about „flying over the handle bars‟, or having the
wheel slide out sideways, if only the front brake is applied. Then they can practise
adjusting both gears unassisted and they can stop, get off and inspect the relative
positions of chain, derailer and sprockets at any time.
Using Walkie Talkies with students with Vision Impairment has been a recent
innovation at SASVI and has proved very successful.
Motivation is no problem, when a student hears that a classmate has used the Walkie
Talkies, they want to try ASAP.
First I turn on and set the Walkie Talkie to „lock‟, so that students cannot change the
channel. We discuss use of radios etc and how they differ from phones – that is they
only transmit (talk) OR receive (listen), and almost everyone knows to say „Over‟.
We practise talking and listening in the Mobility office, then move outside and
increase the distance between us. Soon we are giving directions to each other and the
students learn that if I can misinterpret their instructions I will – they begin to
understand how to use specific landmarks and to think from another person‟s point of
view and how to confirm if a message is understood by careful questioning.
Students are usually keen to increase the distance between them and me – it is so
motivating they „forget‟ to be anxious. They will walk solo around the school area,
they will walk using their Long cane, a good distance ahead and react to directions
they hear through the Walkie Talkie better than if I am standing next to them. I can
ask them to stop and explore a place to practise finding relevant details for
Orientation. We can use compasses and Walkie Talkies.
When the time comes to walk down the street without me close by, students are more
willing to try when they have the Walkie Talkie. Soon I will be trying it on public
transport and in larger shopping centres.
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CLOCKWISE and FIGURE 8
For students at an Intermediate level, an understanding of concepts such as Clockwise
can be very useful. Previous experience with the movement of the hands of an
analogue clock and the positions of the 12 numbers is required.
Start with the student standing at the side of a table with a clock (real, large print
model or Tactile) flat on the table. They are standing at 6 – always, for this part of the
exercise. The question is then where is 7? 8?, 9? Etc – have the student point, then
imagine a clock as large as the table; repeat where is 7?, 8?, 9?, point first, all the way
up to 12, then continue around to 6. Next ask the student to walk around the table
counting aloud as they go. Repeat, and then just walk, no counting. Next find
something else to walk around, eg a chair. No matter which direction the chair or
student is facing, they are at 6; point, say aloud, then walk.
Move outside to a large area such as the court yard- starting position is always 6 –
point, say, and then walk.
Discuss other things that move clockwise such as turning off a bathroom tap – this
brings in the idea of anticlockwise if it hasn‟t already come up. Students at SASVI
ride bikes around the bike track only in a clockwise direction. What would happen if
someone rode anticlockwise? Vehicles travel around roundabouts clockwise. City
Free buses in Adelaide CBD and Circle Line buses around the suburbs, have one route
going clockwise and the other route going anticlockwise – discuss advantages and
SASVI school bike path has a large oval shape, plus a smaller circle section going
around Teenager Park. Draw this or make using Wikki stix, then have the student
trace direction of movement with their finger. They will find clockwise around the
main track plus anticlockwise around Teenager Park. Put together it looks like an 8,
and is called figure 8. Challenge the student to describe the movement in any easier
way than figure 8 – you‟ll probably get a lot of „left/right/north/east/this way…you
Using clock directions, such as „The chair is at 2 o‟clock‟ involves only a slight
modification. The student now stands in the centre of a large clock with 6 directly
behind them. Try a Hula Hoop on the floor with print or Braille numbers taped in
position. Point first at 12, then 1, 2, 11, 10. Next note that 3 is directly right and 9 is
Practise inside the office with the student following directions, then nominating
directions before they walk, then reverse roles with the student telling you where to
go(?). Then practise in the yard, playground etc.
The Hula-hoop exercise can also be used to practise accurate 90 and 180 degree turns
for blind students, as the verbal feedback is simple, such as „Not quite, you only
turned to 2 o‟clock‟.
PARALLEL and PERPENDICULAR
If students already know these from Maths lessons, simply apply them to walking
relative to a wall etc. If they are unsure, it may help to use the student‟s own arms to
hold out parallel in front of themself, then move one to perpendicular (or 90 degrees).
Relate parallel to the O&M term „trailing and perpendicular to „squaring off‟.
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INTRODUCING THE MONOCULAR OR MINI-TELESCOPE TO STUDENTS AT SASVI.
TAPS; Foundations of O&M; SPEVI newsletters volume 3, issues 5&6.
Headings listed in texts include:- “Familiarisation, Localisation, Fixation/Focussing, Spotting,
Tracing, Tracking, Scanning, Skill Integration”.
Binoculars may be more suitable for some students – young, Nystagmus, CVI.
Or, may be useful to patch one eye to begin telescope use.
Re sharing – this is their telescope, sharing might result in catching eye infection; or at least,
keep hold of the cord, for safety and to prevent damage.
At SASVI, I immediately replace the clip attaching the telescope to the cord with a (stronger)
key ring – clips have stretched and opened.
The front knurled (grip) section is for assembly and repair – it is not a „speed focus‟ as one
student said. I wrap sticky tape around it to prevent opening, then also tape the student‟s
initials there. Also useful to attach initials or name to outside of pouch.
After considering eye condition, the best option for holding is left eye and left hand for those
who write with their right hand. This allows for most convenient classroom use, but if not
possible, then other combinations are used.
Student looks at telescope first – wind open to read the barrel section, using CCTV or hand
held magnifier. Note 40cm, 60cm, 1m and then introduce the symbol for infinity (discuss
concept for telescopes, cameras etc.). Set to 40cm. May be useful to estimate 40cm distance –
approximately arm length for some students.
Show student a scrabble letter; up close, to read unaided (so they know the answer – no
failure at this early stage). Use tape measure to hold letter 40cm away (may need contrasting
backing eg folder). Also check there is no background glare (window).
NOW have student look through telescope, and I move letter closer and further away to
demonstrate in focus and out of focus. Resting elbows on desk is good for stabilisation.
Repeat for 60cm and 1m. Discuss possible uses, such as group activities – cooking or sewing
demonstrations or science lessons (especially at high school, with large groups).
Hold at either 60cm or 1m and have student adjust in and out of focus.
For infinity setting, introduce a letter or number card (approx. 70mm high and 60mm wide) –
up close to see unaided first. Move well beyond 1 metre, hold card in front of body and have
student set telescope between 1m and infinity, then spot the adult, then the card, then adjust
focus toward infinity to see clearly. Repeat for different cards.
Incorrect answers at this stage can be described as “You are guessing”, rather than “You are
wrong”, which can damage confidence and acceptance of the telescope. Later, guessing by
using partial information and context can be a good strategy to use.
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DRAFT May 2008
TELESCOPE continued - SPOTTING, TRACKING AND TRACING
Demonstrate incorrect spotting with random and unsuccessful waving around telescope.
Introduce cardboard tube, with dark line along it – demonstrate successful spotting of objects,
and then, the student‟s face.
Student to look along the line first to spot adult‟s face, then keep eye looking while raise tube
– you will be able to see if they succeed and give feedback.
Practise with the tube at objects that do not need magnification – eg find, then look along the
edge of the desk, for toy ducks etc; find then look along a line taped to the floor; find then
look along ledge at a row of number cards; follow a rolling ball etc.
Use telescope for spotting – look along/above it to locate target, then hold gaze while raising
telescope. Repeat position and distance used previously for number/letter cards. Next, hold a
card out to side/ up high (check for glare) / down low etc.
Hold two cards – one each side etc. Line up cards on ledge to mis-spell easy words or have an
error in a number sequence for student to identify.
Attach scrabble letter to a toy train and pull by string across the floor, between two cardboard
boxes. Begin with one letter against a box to set focus. Vary speed, direction, number of
letters, simple words etc (from student‟s right to left is easier).
Hang a Hula-hoop from a cupboard handle, then Blu-tac scrabble letters around the hoop.
Blu-tac letters along edges of cupboard – student to locate edge, then trace along. Place an
unknown object up on top of cupboard to locate, describe (very useful) and perhaps identify.
Attach random letters on cupboard for search patterns.
Walk across the room holding one then two letter/number cards – close together, held apart,
up high etc. Have the student spot the clock and say when the second hand passes 12 etc.
Present student with cards to read (on desk) and try to match information on a wall poster.
Sit student on office chair (with casters); focus on an object, then move student closer, while
they adjust to maintain focus. Discuss difficulty and danger of moving self while looking
SASVI taxi area – find a safe place to stop and stand – not in a walkway, not on driveway etc.
Resting on a rail or leaning against a post is good for stabilisation. Reinforce NO walking
while looking through telescope. (NO running while carrying telescope at any time.)
Spot parked cars, track along then focus and read number plates.
Introduce the term and idea of „skyline‟ – flat, straight roof of a building versus the top of
trees. Trace around skyline, then return to start – try to identify school buildings, houses,
shade cloth (so there is the playground), highest tree, and any other items such as light poles.
Footpath area – stand next to a pole - note pole is adjacent to a kerb, so when looking for pole
across road, find kerb first (good contrast), then track along to pole, then up pole to read sign.
Start with big signs such as speed, then simple such as „S‟ or „P‟, then move on to street
names. Check literacy – student may be able to see but not read and say name, so ask re first
letter or is it “St” or “Rd” or…? Next, house numbers, if easy to spot and read.
Look east toward busy Marion Rd and ask student to say when trucks or buses go past. Later,
walk to bus stop and watch approaching traffic. Try watching Lawn Bowls.
Factors influencing success include – size, distance, contrast, familiarity and speed of moving
object. Lack of success can be “That‟s as far as your telescope works” (which we do need to
know) rather than “You are wrong”. Clues and context may help here.
At shopping centre – look for signs under veranda ceiling, post box, and aisle numbers etc in
supermarket. Note, literacy skills need to be considered.
USE FOR CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES
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DRAFT May 2008
Reading from whiteboard; TV; group stories – books, posters; experiments and
demonstrations; cooking? Excursions need management re student safety, and care for
telescope, lens caps and pouch.
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DRAFT May 2008
I D cane (Handout page)
The ID cane (or Identification Cane) is different from the long (white) cane in several
important ways. Although they are both for use by people with vision impairment and are
both white, the ID cane does not…have any other colour on it, have a rubber grip, have a
rolling ball tip; and is not as strong, nor as long as a „long‟ cane. The ID cane is not meant to
continuously touch, tap or roll on the ground.
THE MAIN USE FOR AN ID CANE IS TO IDENTIFY THE PERSON CARRYING IT AS
SOMEONE WITH A VISION IMPAIRMENT.
This can be very useful when using public transport (Eg simply hold the ID cane in clear view
of on-coming bus drivers, hail every bus and then ask the driver for information). Also carry
the ID cane in clear view of other pedestrians when moving through crowded areas.
No cane will stop traffic and no cane should ever be used as a pointer.
The ID cane can either be gripped across the palm or held in a „pencil grip‟; and is then held
diagonally across in front of the body so the top end sticks out just beyond the hand, which is
held in front of one side of the body. The tip is just off the ground in front of the opposite
foot, not sticking out too far past the side of the body, but far enough in front to act as a
„bumper‟ to detect obstacles (and still allow the user one more half pace to stop before the
obstacle). A good way to start in the correct position is to „Touch your toe, and then
forward‟ by rolling the wrist. The ID cane must not interfere with the feet of anyone else, nor
should it contact wheels of baby strollers, wheelchairs, trolleys etc. Care must be taken when
walking around corners so that the ID cane tip does not stick out into a walkway.
Folding and unfolding the ID cane should be done vertically, in front of the body and
segment by segment – not sideways and never by flicking. When seated, the ID cane can be
held vertically with the tip touching the ground between the feet and one hand holding the top
above the knees; this keeps it visible and out of other people‟s way (Eg at a bus stop seat), but
it is usually safer to have folded when travelling in a vehicle.
Down kerbs: When standing on a kerb or step, the ID cane can be used as a „probe‟ to check
the depth; and then moved out forwards to clear for objects and to be safely in front of feet as
you step down then forward (it also signals to other people that you are about to move
Up kerbs and clearing: After walking across a roadway, to step up a kerb – briefly contact
the riser (vertical surface) of the kerb, then roll your wrist to lift the ID cane tip up and over
the kerb edge in a sweeping motion to clear in front of your feet and body (especially to
locate posts, poles, objects on the grass or path etc.), then step up and return the ID cane to the
usual diagonal position.
Stairs and being guided: It is recommended to hold the ID cane up vertical („Carry your
cane‟ position) when going up stairs (change grip if necessary) and it can lightly touch the
edge of each step on the way up. This vertical grip / „Carry your cane‟ position is also
appropriate when holding the arm of a person who is guiding.
Children and students: The ID cane is only for use by the student (owner) it was given to
by the Orientation and Mobility teacher/instructor. If other students are interested to try using
it, this should only happen with the permission of the owner and under very close adult
supervision. Adults may carry the ID cane for the student, and may chose to hold it diagonally
in front of both of them in busy areas (eg markets) when they are guiding the student.
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DRAFT May 2008
This Handout page is rewritten with the student‟s name at the top and in place of
he/she. “………‟S CANE”
1. He/she can use her cane in either hand – it is good to be able to use both.
2. Banging the cane tip is not to be encouraged – instead we tell He/she to “Use
your cane” – the aim is for her to roll the tip across the path (approximately
equal to shoulder width) in front of herself.
3. He/she can walk following an adult – so the adult should walk exactly where
you want her to follow and make footsteps loud enough to hear. There is no
need to talk continuously or clap hands etc etc. Also discourage other people
distracting He/she – even saying hello as they pass or making compliments on
her progress will interfere with her concentration on using her cane.
4. In well-known, safe areas He/she can be left to walk alone in her own time to a
specific destination such as a door or outside table etc. One example at school,
is to guide He/she to the end of the cricket pitch, then ask her to walk alone to
the adult waiting at the other end. He/she uses her cane to „shoreline‟ along
the grass edge and can do the same along other edges such as kerbs or
5. If He/she needs to be guided by holding your arm, she should then be
reminded to “Carry your cane”, which is then vertical and to the side away
from her guide, and does not touch the ground unless she is walking up steps,
in which case the cane contacts the riser of each step up one step ahead of her
feet. Do not use the cane like a walking stick
6. When standing still, to talk with others, He/she can be asked to “Hold your
cane” so cane is vertical, with the tip stationary on the ground, very near their
7. Do describe or label objects that the cane contacts eg „Good cane work
He/she, your cane has found the wheelie bin‟ or „Your cane has found the
kerb, now step down‟. Watch carefully that He/she meets kerbs, ramps etc
straight on so her cane contacts well before her feet (i.e. gives a preview of the
change in surface).
8. Of course, no cane will protect the user from obstacles above waist height –
guides need to avoid overhanging branches, signs etc.
9. When walking near a wall etc He/she may choose to trail one hand along the
surface while using the cane in her other hand – this is very good practice.
Careful observation may show how He/she uses echolocation and sound
shadowing to help her orientation.
10. One effective way to help He/she to stop accurately when approaching a
person is to prompt her with “He/she, find my foot”. A cane contacting the
feet of a stationary person is far better than bumping bodies or heads, and
stops He/she at the appropriate distance to talk to you.
In general terms, if He/she is using her cane either as a probe to feel the ground
surfaces or as a bumper to protect herself then she is using it properly. If he/she is not
using the cane as well as they can, try calling the cane „lazy‟ (not he/she) and suggest
that he/she should make it work harder to keep them safe.
Orientation and Mobility teacher South Australian School for Vision Impaired
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DRAFT May 2008
This Handout page is rewritten with the student‟s name where relevant
MOBILITY for ‘A STUDENT’
1. MAINLY RELIANT on sighted guide by adults.
GRIP – at present, the student and the adult are holding hands, which is
fine for Mum and special adults, but school staff etc. should work
toward a more professional approach.
The first step is for the adult to straighten their fingers for her to
hold. Eventually, she will hold their wrist. With students guiding
the student, she can still hold hands for now, but will eventually
hold their elbow.
STANCE – with her elbow bent, she should walk ½ a pace behind
the adult, to follow the guide‟s movements.
“NARROW SPACE” (this is what we call anywhere we cannot
walk with the normal grip and stance) – the guide moves their arm
behind their back, so that she is directly behind them. The guide is
in front to deal with obstacles and locate steps etc first.
DOORS – adult controlled at this stage.
STEPS AND STAIRS – Always use hand rails when they are available.
For up-steps, the guide stops with toes near the step and moves their arm forward to
bring the student along-side. Use a gentle „toe-kick‟ to locate the riser, and when the
student toe-kicks, step up so she can follow your movement.
For down-steps; stop at the top and bring the student along side so she can use one
foot to locate the drop-off edge (and may rock the ball of this foot), and the n step
down, so The student can follow your movement. If the student wants to step with
two feet per tread, this is okay – she will develop more confidence over time. When
the student wants to use steps without holding a guide, the adult should position
himself or herself below the student.
CHAIRS – tell the student and place her hand on the chair.
WAITING – do not leave her standing alone in an open space. It is better to stop next
to a place that the student can touch or explore by hand.
Note – adults need to check places for safety (to avoid bumping her head) if the
student moves unexpectedly or quickly as she can do when happy or excited.
(continued page 2)
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DRAFT May 2008
2. MOBILITY for ‘A STUDENT’ (continued)
a) WALKING ALONE (to play, explore etc). The adult should check the area is safe –
consider steps, stairs, kerbs, ramps, poles, half-open doors, head high obstacles, other
people moving past etc. Remember that an interesting and challenging environment is the
best way to encourage movement and develop skills and self-confidence. Recognisable
permanent features are useful „landmarks‟ to use as reference points; temporary features
are just called „clues‟ – because they may not be there next time.
b) TRAILING – trailing along a wall or fence is a very useful skill - especially to get
somewhere in particular. The „trailing‟ hand is in front of the body, with fingers curled
down, ready to safely contact edges etc.
c) PROTECTION – contacting posts, edges of walls, poles etc will happen, so the student
should be encouraged to use „bumpers‟ with either arms folded or hands together as a
beginner technique – this requires using both hands. Next try a „one-arm bumper‟ – up
across her body, with palm facing forward. A „head high bumper‟ has the hand up to
protect the head / face. She has shown that she understands this technique and can use it
while trailing or using her cane. A „low bumper‟ is useful for finding tables or the back
of chairs – one hand is held out in front with fingers pointing down, palm towards her
now, and the wrist at about navel height, so that knuckles make first contact.
Bumpers Bumpers One-arm Trailing
-fold arms - hands together bumper
Orientation and Mobility Teacher
South Australian School for Vision Impaired
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