Orientation and Mobility Skills

Move as safely and independently as possible through all environments

An Overview of the Technical O&M Skills Needed if You Are Thinking about Applying for a Guide Dog

Before one applies for a guide dog, the mastery of the following list of technical O&M skills and abilities is assumed of the student. These skills are necessary if there is to be a successful outcome to instruction. The guide dog is a complimentary tool to be used in conjunction with a strong foundation of one’s O&M skills.

Ability to move about one’s living, neighborhood, community, and work environment.

  1. Uses appropriate body movements and maintains good posture.
  2. Demonstrates possession of fine motor skills (eye-hand coordination).
  3. Demonstrates possession of gross motor skills (running, throwing).
  4. Explains how to get from house to the sidewalk or road, or mailbox.
  5. Safely enters/exits automobiles/cabs.
  6. Describes olfactory/auditory/tactile clues to orientation and mobility within the home.
  7. Demonstrates basic cane and/or adaptive visual travel skills.
  8. Knows basic differences among all forms of public transportation (bus, train, plane, taxi).
  9. Uses appropriate upper and lower hand self-protective (O&M) techniques.
  10. Moves about own home independently and safely
  11. Explains relationship between curb and street, objects in yard, etc.
  12. Explains the common location of outside steps, bushes, trees, driveway and other land marks/obstacles.
  13. Follows prompting for training and/or taking direction from environmental features (squaring off).
  14. Describes layout of familiar rooms (e.g., friends/relatives’ homes, classroom, doctor’s office, church).
  15. Can independently find bathroom in own house.
  16. Uses and explains sighted guide techniques.
  17. Determines appropriate time to cross residential streets.
  18. Demonstrates concept of relative distance between various locations in familiar environment (i.e., knows far/near, longer/shorter distances, etc.).

Ability to use any public transportation that is available and for which the customer can realistically (as evaluated) be expected to use.

  1. Safely enters/exits public transportation (e.g. buses, planes, or trains).
  2. Plans and adapts routes in familiar environment.
  3. Negotiates specific travel obstacles, cars, snow banks.
  4. Uses and describes most cane techniques with some assistance.
  5. Localizes sounds and use cues to face areas of activity.
  6. Travels independently within 2-3 block radius of home.
  7. Chooses preferred mode of travel for short distances knowing specific characteristics (e.g., costs, schedules) and defends choice.
  8. Uses safe exploration techniques to negotiate new environments.
  9. Understands and follows rules of safety in travel.
  10. Demonstrates use of non-visual senses in travel (some prompting is acceptable).
  11. Uses clues and landmarks to assist with orientation.
  12. Demonstrates step-over-step pattern of walking when ascending or descending stairs.
  13. Descends stairs independent of handrail.
  14. Uses protective arm and tracking techniques.
  15. Demonstrates knowledge of environmental concepts.
  16. Compares travel time to pace.
  17. Reads compass.
  18. Reads and interprets simple maps.
  19. Demonstrates self-familiarization techniques.
  20. Describes public places (e.g., park, museum).
  21. Describes a city/neighborhood block, several types of street intersections, etc.
  22. Uses and describes appropriate cane techniques (including diagonal, diagonal trailing, ascending/descending stairs, touch, touch and slide, touch and drag, constant contact, 3-point touch).
  23. Travels independently and safely within own residential neighborhood.
  24. Crosses at traffic light-controlled intersection at right time.
  25. Uses public transit to go to familiar locations.
  26. Uses escalator.
  27. Operates turnstiles and revolving doors.
  28. Independently negotiates common travel obstacles in local environment (including curbs).
  29. Can enter and exit with ease all forms of transportation.
  30. Appropriately asks for assistance when using public transportation.

We are keen to support your success in developing ease and mastery of the O&M concepts and skills discussed here. So please feel free to contact the Admissions Team at 760-329-2375 if you should have questions or concerns.

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Berger Foundation
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Guide Dogs of the Desert | California
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