Join Us in Creating a Better, Research-Based Orientation and Mobility Assessment

A group of blind students, teachers, and mentors walking in Alexandria, Virginia as part of the NFB-BELL Program (July 2013)

When you—a teacher of blind students, a parent, or concerned classroom teacher—want to objectively understand a visually-impaired student’s ability to travel safely, effectively, and efficiently, what should you do?

We know that:

  • When schools want to know in what math class students will be challenged but not overwhelmed, they administer placement exams.
  • When parents want to know if their son or daughter may have the “early warning signs” of a medical condition, they find a checklist from a reputable medical web site.
  • When teachers want to know whether a low vision student should use large print or braille, hopefully they’re using the National Reading Media Assessment (NRMA), the only standardized and research-based tool in the field.

Until now, there has been no logical, evidence-based metric to assess a student’s ability to travel regardless of their visual acuity. Sure, there are dozens of teacher-created checklists, but—even if you’re able to finish the 50-plus item checklist—you’re left to interpret the results on a case-by-case basis. So, if your student can do 35 out of the 50 points, does he need more training? How well can the student really perform in the environments that you’ve checked off? Does he even need a cane? Fortunately, there will soon be a tool to solve these questions. With your help, the tool will be practical, complete, and based on the experiences of blind and low vision students from around the country.

Regardless of your role in the education of blind students, we’d like to invite you to help us to pilot test the new National Orientation and Mobility Assessment (NOMA).

The National Orientation and Mobility Assessment (NOMA) is designed to identify difficulties that youth who are blind or visually-impaired may be having in their day-to-day travels, to pinpoint those problem areas, and to result in appropriate recommendations for professional mobility services.

The NOMA consists of two separate sections which are intended for two distinct target populations.

The first section, a screening inventory, is intended for use by the parents, classroom teachers, and teacher of the blind (TBS or TVI) to assess the extent to which observable mobility problems are occurring and whether those problems warrant a referral to a qualified O&M professional.

The second section, a formal O&M assessment, is intended for use by a qualified O&M professional. This component consists of four instructional domains used to determine the level of proficiency on various aspects of travel. After documenting a student’s proficiency levels, instructors are better equipped to construct lesson plans, develop IEP goals, and report on IEP progress.

This objective, quantitative tool is meant to be easy enough for parents to administer on their own kid and fast enough for a qualified O&M instructor to incorporate into their daily work.

Sign up to join the pilot testing today!

To participate, we’ll need you to sign a few documents about consenting to be part of a research study and not to share the assessment with those who haven’t agreed to abide by the terms of the study, but after that, we’re excited to see what the assessment unlocks for you and your students.

Please complete this form to receive more information. We won’t share your information outside the confines of this study.

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Edward Bell, Ph.D., CRC, NOMC

Edward Bell, Ph.D., CRC, NOMC

Dr. Bell is the Director of the Professional Development and Research Institute on Blindness at Louisiana Tech University.
Edward Bell, Ph.D., CRC, NOMC

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One thought on “Join Us in Creating a Better, Research-Based Orientation and Mobility Assessment

  1. Pingback: Unique Certification Organization Recognized with $20,000 Award | Blog on Blindness

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