Using Maps While Teaching Grocery Shopping to Students with Visual Impairments

Using Maps While Teaching Grocery Shopping to Students with Visual Impairments

Last summer, I did the most daring thing an Orientation and Mobility Specialist could do. I signed up to teach an elementary summer school class. For two sets of one week sessions, I was given a set of 8 brand-new-to-me students, aging from 7 to 8 years in age. The objective was to help them learn about their worlds in a fun, motivating, and impactful way. Kind of like O&M 101 camp.

On Day 1, we learned how to go grocery shopping. I had made 8 copies of light-weight maps, both tactile and high-contrast print versions.

What has happened since I left my full time Orientation and Mobility Specialist position

What has happened since I left my full time Orientation and Mobility Specialist position

“How did you get this job at the International Orientation and Mobility Online Symposium?”, one of our planning committee members asked the other day.

I shrugged, not knowing how to answer her. “I made it up!” I said.

It has been a long time since we got to chat about what I am up to now, so I figured we could sit down together, grab a cup of decaf coffee or sparkling water, and chat.

How to Increase Academic Performance through Orientation and Mobility

How to Increase Academic Performance through Orientation and Mobility

Academic performance is at the heart of every piece of data that our administrators collect. 

We know it's not their fault. They need to prove that we are doing our jobs. But our job, although arguably the most important educational component to any student/ client/ consumer's curriculum, is not always seen as the pivotal piece. 

Often, as related service staff for a low incidence population, our bosses don't even know what we do. 

Easy Activities to Celebrate Blindness Awareness Month

October is a great time to focus our attention on what really matters. It isn’t the paperwork. It isn’t managing the bureaucracy. Nor is it finding the coolest new invention for people with visual impairments.

October is our time to educate the people around us about visual impairments. It is our time to celebrate with our loved ones, our students, and our peers who have a visual impairment.

Here are a few easy ways that you can educate our students’ community and celebrate their uniqueness with them!

How I set up my conference presentations to get maximum engagement

How I set up my conference presentations to get maximum engagement

During my first presentation, I was SO NERVOUS! I was 13 weeks pregnant and honestly could not tell if I was nauseous from the pregnancy or the nerves.

It was probably the nerves.

I want to take all of that away for you and share exactly how you can set up your presentations easily, without fuss, and get the maximum engagement from the crowd.

2 Most Important VoiceOver Gestures for Orientation and Mobility

2 Most Important VoiceOver Gestures for Orientation and Mobility

Do you ever feel like you missed the Tech-train as it left the station a few years ago?

Now the topics people talk about are above your head and you feel like you don’t speak the language.

Yes. Yes. and more YES. In a recent blog post, we talked about hard it is to keep up with all of the technology these days.

For those of you who want to get your feet wet, but haven’t yet, this vlog is for you.

There are 2 most important VoiceOver gestures that you NEED to know. Everything else is based on these two. Also, if you ONLY know these two, you can get a teenager to teach you the rest of them while still being a confident O&M Specialist. #win-win.

3 Simple Techniques to Increase Your Students' Independence

There has been a 16% increase in children with disabilities over the past decade.

The good news is, Asthma is down. The bad news is, neurodevelopmental disabilities are on the rise. That's CVI, ONH, and Autism.


We, as educators, are charged with leading our students’ teams in the fight for their independence.

Collaborating with Your Students' Team Members

During my first year as an O&M Specialist, I had a student with multiple disabilities that I walked to the dorm after school. He was a non-verbal 13 year old male student with Autism. When I inherited this student upon accepting the position, he was using a Connecticut- style AMD.


It worked great for him for the first few months. Then, he started to throw it. Every day. He also started to hit me, bite me, and throw himself on the ground.


Not too bad, unless you are 22, have NO idea what you are doing, and have to get this kid across a community-college size campus right after his gentleman “recreation” time. None of those things were in my favor.


Never-the-less, I noticed that he no longer needed the full AMD. It was time to move towards a less restricted cane.


So, I suggested an L-bar for him.


His teacher adamantly disagreed.


In this week’s vlog post, I share exactly how I navigated the situation and how I approach collaborations with other teachers.



If you like this information, you will definitely want to check out the O&M for Students with Multiple Disabilities Study Group. 

The good news is... STUDY GROUP REGISTRATION IS CURRENTLY OPEN! (As of August 20, 2018).

In case you are wondering, Study Group Registration will be open until we have 30 people in each group. I fully expect them to fill up before registration closes in September.


How to Get the Most Out of Your Planning Sessions

All too often, I see O&M teachers who once had a zest for their job get caught up in the “Not enough” story that we can start to tell ourselves. Not enough time. Not enough money. Not enough resources.


Where we once felt an abundance of life-giving energy, we now see it all as a sea of hardened concrete.


I know some people who don’t even attend conferences any more because they tell themselves that there is nothing more to learn. They don’t have enough time to implement their new ideas, so they don’t even bother.


Check out this video where I explained where most O&Mers get stuck and how to get out of the O&M rut.


My challenge to you today is to flip that switch. What if what we have IS enough. What if we can make miracles happen with what we do have?


For years, my planning periods were split into two 15 minute sessions in any given day. Now, I’m not paid for any planning time. It is all on me.


This is how I make the most of my planning periods, and how you can too:

  1. Brain Dump. At the beginning of every week, do a brain dump. Write down everything you have to do for the foreseeable future. Make this one list. One life, one list. Write down all of your upcoming IEP meetings, your client needs, your child’s dentist appointment, your taxes.. Everything. Break them down in to 10 minute tasks if you can. For example, 1. Gather tactile map supplies. 2. Tactile map layout. 3. Glue tactile map. Do this part with pen and paper if you can. If not, just a note in your phone will be fine.

  2. If you want to take an extra step here, you can separate them in either:

    1. TODAY, UPCOMING, and LATER; or

    2. I. Important and Urgent, II. Urgent, but not Important, III. Important, but not Urgent, IV. Not Important and Not Urgent (from 7 Habits of Highly Effective People)

  3. Choose 3 things to get accomplished this week. ONLY 3. Choose the most urgent and important at first, then move on to the upcoming or important but not urgent items.

  4. Every day, start at least one item on your list. Aim to accomplish it.


By being prepared for your planning sessions, you will cut out a lot of wasted time trying to figure out what to do with your planning session.


Then, you can start to see your way out of the O&M Rut, and be able to fit in time for other things.


Like data.


Just kidding. Like study groups, obviously. If you are ready to leave that O&M Rut behind and use your newly acquired time to help your students become better travelers, you are more than welcome to join the O&M Study Groups this fall.


In the study groups, we will meet 4 times over the course of the semester in live, interactive webinars. Each webinar topic will give you specific strategies to use with your students.


There are two study groups to choose from. Head over to the website to see if you would prefer to join the MIVI study group or the technology study group!


Registration for the study groups opens next week!