Appropriate O&M Instruction and Professional Preparation

Resolution 2014-03
Whereas, the safety of individuals who are blind or who have low vision while traveling in their communities depends on good orientation and mobility (O&M) skills; and
Whereas, success in the workforce requires being able to navigate city streets, public transit, and the work environment independently with a long white cane or guide dog; and
Whereas, while a few schools for the blind in America continue to provide highly competent training in O&M resulting in their graduates truly being able to travel effectively and independently, many students receiving O&M instruction in both public school and specialized school environments do not graduate as competent and independent travelers; and
Whereas, many blind children who are placed in public school programs receive limited O&M training and are not challenged adequately to develop independent travel skills; and
Whereas, many professionals who are trained to work with people who are blind or visually impaired may have a functional knowledge of O&M skills, but unconsciously reflect the same myths and misconceptions as society as a whole, and so do not believe in the capabilities of blind individuals; and
Whereas, many state and local educational agencies are overly cautious in terms of the O&M training that they in fact allow to take place because of concerns about liability and safety of instructors and students, and thus  discourage proper O&M instruction by restricting access to important teaching environments and related travel skills; and
Whereas, it is indisputable that traveling in the built environment has become more complex than ever before for all pedestrians, thus requiring a higher degree of teaching competence than in the past by professionals teaching O&M to students;
Now, therefore, be it resolved by the American Council of the Blind in convention assembled on the 16th day of July, 2014, at the Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada, that this organization deplore the failure of many schools and districts to provide effective O&M instruction for students who are blind or who have low vision and calls upon the U.S. Department of Education and state and local educational agencies to develop and implement standards and monitoring procedures that will ensure that these students receive instruction which will enable them to travel competently and independently; and

Be it further resolved that this organization, through its Special Education Task Force, develop recommendations and tools to assist ACB state and special interest affiliates to more effectively advocate for proper, comprehensive, and effective O&M training by schools for the blind, public school special education programs, and state and local educational agencies generally; and

Be it further resolved that this organization call upon standard-setting bodies, including but not limited to the Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals (ACVREP), the National Blindness Professional Certification Board (NBPCB), and all university programs providing training to meet the standards of either of these certification entities, to strengthen their working relationship with the American Council of the Blind and its Special Education Task Force, as well as ACB affiliates in each state, in order to incorporate blind consumer perspectives in testing and standards and requirements for O&M professionals.
Ray Campbell, Secretary