As of 10/1/2017, this manual has been retired. For current policies, procedures, and standards for the Texas Workforce Commission Vocational Rehabilitation Division, please refer to the following manuals:

In this manual, references to DARS now refer to TWC. The manual includes both links to public content and links to content available only to staff.

Chapter 21: Orientation and Mobility Services

(Revised 07/09, 02/13, 07/16)

21.1 Definition

(Revised 10/07, 07/16)

An orientation and mobility instructor (O&M instructor) prepares DBS consumers to travel independently with competence and confidence. Orientation refers to the process of applying the available senses to establish the consumer's position and relationship to the environment. Mobility is the act of moving in the environment with the use of an established tool to aid in travel. Tools may include white canes, dog guides, and electronic travel aids.

21.2 Contracted O&M Services

(Revised 10/07)

For detailed information regarding contracted O&M services, review the following sections of the DBS Standards Manual for Consumer Services Contract Providers, Chapter 5: Services, 5.11 Orientation and Mobility Training:

21.3 Services Provided by In-House Orientation and Mobility Instructors Employed by DBS

(Added 10/07, 07/16)

21.3.1 Role of the Orientation and Mobility Instructor

Orientation and mobility (O&M) is a core skill that helps blind consumers to achieve an effective employment outcome. Both the counselor and the O&M instructor should encourage consumers who do not travel efficiently and effectively to learn O&M skills.

Independent travel skills are learned nonvisually with a fiber glass rigid cane with a metal tip, so that the consumer develops the necessary skills and confidence to travel safely and independently regardless of available visual information. In rare exceptions, an aluminum cane may be needed to fit non-metal tips such as a roller tip. In all cases, use of remaining vision may be transferred to training when the O&M instructor believes it would be helpful to the learning process, usually after nonvisual skills are mastered. The O&M instructor may teach consumers the following travel skills (list is not inclusive):

In teaching these skills, the O&M instructor may work with

21.3.2 O&M Employment Assistance Services

O&M instructor services support the consumer's ability to achieve an employment outcome. O&M instructor services require coordination with the counselor through all phases of the rehabilitation process, including

21.3.3 O&M Instructor and VR Counselor Staffing Sessions


The purposes of the staffing sessions are to

Session Focus

The session focus is on

The O&M instructor must notify the VR counselor by case action that the assessment is completed.

21.3.4 Consumer Referral Process

(Revised 02/13)

If O&M services are required, the VR counselor refers adult consumers to the O&M instructor.

Consumers who are blind should be referred to the O&M instructor for assessment, unless there is pending eye surgery or the consumer recently completed training at CCRC. Visually impaired consumers with severe functional limitations may also be referred if O&M services are needed.

Consumers demonstrating immediate critical needs before surgery may be referred to the O&M instructor, depending on availability.

Consumers are referred to the O&M instructor by a service record in ReHabWorks.

21.3.5 O&M Assessment Report

The O&M assessment provides critical information to the counselor and consumer in the development of the consumer's Individual Plan for Employment (IPE). This information can help determine training needs and potential length of training. A rigid white cane and blindfold may be provided for evaluation purposes.

The O&M assessment focuses on the alternative skills needed to live independently and obtain or maintain employment.

O&M instructors provide assessments that may include such areas as

When the assessment is completed, it is entered into a case note titled "O&M Assessment." The assessment should include at least the following information:

After the O&M assessment is pasted into a case note, the O&M instructor determines with the counselor if and when training should begin.

Except for assessment-only requests, O&M services should never begin before the case is moved into either the Extended Evaluation or Active phase.

21.3.6 Assessment Focus and Employment Outcome

Although the O&M instructor does not determine the consumer's employment outcome, the O&M instructor's assessment is completed with independent functional travel as the ideal goal. The travel-skill areas are critical to an employment outcome, but different employment outcomes require different skill levels.

If the assessment is developed before an employment outcome is known, the assessment focus is on independent functional travel and its general application to employment.

21.3.7 O&M Training Process

Based on consumer needs and the O&M instructor's input, the range of training services must include

21.3.8 O&M Services Monthly Progress Report

During active training, a monthly progress report must be completed and entered into a case note titled "O&M Services Monthly Progress Report." The monthly report must include at least the following:

21.3.9 Completion of O&M Services

When services are completed, the O&M instructor

Providing Additional Services after Service-Record Closure

If additional services are needed after the service record is closed, a new service record is required, with the VR counselor specifying what skills are needed. When O&M services are purchased, the vendor submits the posttraining report to the counselor. The counselor writes the "Summary Report" and closes the service record.

21.3.10 O&M Case Services Management and/or Case Notes

The O&M instructor must document all consumer contacts and other pertinent information in case notes. The case note title may be edited, but should always begin with "O&M." Titles for O&M instructor case notes are

21.3.11 Action List

For more information on searching action lists, see the ReHabWorks User Guide, Chapter 6: Case Actions and Action Lists.

21.3.12 Ordering Rehabilitation Orientation and Mobility Instructor Supplies

For information on ordering O&M instructor supplies, see Chapter 43: Purchasing Goods and Services for Consumers.

21.3.13 Recommending Counselor Purchase of Equipment

The orientation and mobility (O&M) instructor may recommend that the counselor purchase equipment that is not immediately available, or else the O&M Instructor may purchase it by:

The O&M instructor must determine before the purchase how the counselor would like to complete the purchase.

Justification must be provided for all purchase recommendations.

21.3.14 Consumer or Staff Purchases from Control Account 40

For information on ordering O&M instructor supplies, see Chapter 43: Purchasing Goods and Services for Consumers.

21.3.15 Guidelines for Electronic Travel Aids (ETA)

Examples of electronic travel aids may include the following:

21.3.16 Maintaining Inventory Levels in the Local Office

Use the following procedures to maintain inventory in the local office:

21.3.17 Accountability

Accountability for adaptive supplies and equipment issued to consumers is verified by

21.4 Orientation and Mobility Interns

Currently, DBS has the following types of orientation and mobility (O&M) interns:

Internships are typically initiated by O&M-accredited universities. The statewide O&M consultant (the blindness, training, and development specialist) in charge of coordinating internships contacts the appropriate full-time DBS O&M instructor to determine if he or she is available to supervise an intern. The field director approves supervision of interns. DBS O&M instructors approved to work with O&M interns must be certified by either the

The DBS O&M instructor must

For contracted services, see the DBS Standards Manual for Consumer Services Contract Providers Chapter 5: Services, 5.11 Orientation and Mobility Training or contact the DARS Regional Program Support Specialist (RPSS).