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Rehabilitation of Individuals Who Are Blind
or Have Vision Impairments

Orientation and Mobility (O&M) Specialists and Rehabilitation Teachers provide essential services that are designed to empower blind and visually impaired people to live and travel independently. Successful practitioners are personable, creative, and insightful to the viewpoints of others.

Orientation and Mobility Specialists
work closely with people who are blind or visually impaired to help them develop the skills necessary for independent and safe travel. The use of the sighted guide technique, the long cane, and electronic travel aids are some of the systematic techniques by which blind or visually impaired people orient themselves to their surroundings and move about safely and efficiently. Orientation and Mobility Specialists also monitor and support the development of the basic concepts, sensory skills and protective techniques for safe travel.

Daily professional activities of Orientation and Mobility Specialists may include interviewing and making assessments and referrals as well as providing direct, one-on-one orientation and mobility services. Some opportunities are available in low-vision clinics for assessing vision and determining training needs.

Rehabilitation Teachers perform a broad variety of activities to teach independent living skills, activities of daily living, homemaking skills, and personal management. They are the ones who teach blind and visually impaired people how to read and write Braille, use assistive technology to communicate, and perhaps hire and manage personal care assistants. Activities of daily living are the routine acts we perform every day to look after ourselves to be productive and enjoy life—telling time, preparing meals, eating, dressing, grooming and personal hygiene. Rehabilitation Teachers coach blind and visually impaired individuals in those areas and in the use of technology such as computers, telephones, and Braillewriters. .

Rehabilitation Teachers often work with vocational rehabilitation counselors to evaluate and plan teaching activities to meet a client’s needs, and with home health workers to make individual assessments. They sometimes work with blind and visually impaired individuals in their homes and places of work to set up their physical environments and adaptive equipment. .

It takes a team of professionals from several fields to meet the needs of people who are blind or have vision impairments. Orientation and Mobility Specialists and Rehabilitation Teachers often work with allied health professionals such as ophthalmologists, opticians, rehabilitation counselors, special education teachers, low vision practitioners, and deaf-blind specialists. It is important that these professionals understand each others’ roles and functions and the complementary nature of the rehabilitation team.


The positions of Orientation and Mobility Specialist and Rehabilitation Teacher typically require a bachelor's degree in rehabilitation or related fields, with specialized training related to serving people who are blind or visually impaired. A master's degree is usually preferred. Orientation and Mobility Specialists hold a degree in rehabilitation or education with an emphasis or major in Orientation and Mobility. The Association of Educators and Rehabilitators of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER) must have approved the degree program.


Graduates of approved university programs are eligible for certification in Rehabilitation Teaching or in Orientation and Mobility from the Academy for the Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals.


Orientation and Mobility Specialists and Rehabilitation Teachers work in public and private rehabilitation agencies, including state vocational rehabilitation agencies for the blind and visually impaired, low vision clinics, and educational institutions. Many professionals provide services under contractual arrangements with agencies.


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Find out more about Vocational Rehabilitation
(Excerpts from the Careers in Vocational Rehabilitation Booklet)
Who makes a good rehabilitation professional?
Preparing for a Career in Vocational Rehabilitation
Questions about a Career in Vocational Rehabilitation

Vocational Rehabilitation Professions:
Rehabilitation Counseling
  Rehabilitation Counselors
Rehabilitation of Individuals Who Are Blind or Have Vision Impairments
  Orientation and Mobility Specialists
  Rehabilitation Teachers
Vocational Evaluation and Work Adjustment
  Vocational Evaluators
  Work Adjustment Specialists
Job Development and Placement Specialists
Rehabilitation of Individuals who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing
  Deafness Rehabilitation Professionals
  Interpreters for Deaf Individuals
Undergraduate Education in the Rehabilitation Services
  Rehabilitation Practitioners
Rehabilitation Administration
Other Vocational Rehabilitation Professions
  Rehabilitation Medicine, Physiatrists, Rehabilitation Nurses

  Prosthetics & Orthotics
  Rehabilitation Technologists
  Rehabilitation Psychologist
  Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists