Why Might My Child with Low Vision Need Orientation and Mobility Training?

four children, two with canes, two without, smiling as their     orientation and mobility instructor holds the door open for them

Imagine yourself, typically a fine traveler, walking up to the ticket counter to purchase one ticket for The Jungle Book. No problem, right?

Double checking your ticket, you walk toward theater 10. You open the door and step forward. It’s dark. “Oh great,” you think, for you cannot navigate well in a dimly lit environment and this time you came alone. You stumble up the stairs; can’t quite figure out which rows have empty seats; and half-way through the movie you question if you should risk a bathroom break.

Yes, as many of you already know, low vision can be complex.

Your child may be an excellent traveler in a familiar, well lit, high-contrast environment with even ground. This would of course beg the question, “Why is my child’s TVI suggesting my child be evaluated for travel training from an orientation and mobility specialist?”

Because, as the above example demonstrated, your child may find traveling difficult or dangerous in less-than-ideal circumstances.

Difficulty traveling may occur with:

  • Uneven ground
  • Lack of light or an abundance of light/ glare
  • Changes in terrain (rocks, curbs, damaged sidewalk)
  • Poor contrast (white road alongside a white curb, all brown stairs, etc.)
  • A visually complex environment (busy intersection, colorful classroom, etc.)
  • Unfamiliar environments
  • Fluctuating vision occurring from fatigued eyes, use of medication, or as a result of your child’s visual diagnosis

The bottom line: If your child has a visual impairment, whether a brain-based visual impairment known as CVI or a diagnosis of the eye, advocate that your child be evaluated for Orientation and Mobility lessons.

For more information on this topic, you may purchase Orientation and Mobility Services for Children and Youths with Low Vision, an online chapter of Foundations of Low Vision.