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Vision Science Research Center School of Optometry | School of Medicine

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UAB Orientation and Mobility (O&M) Certification Program

DPevsner  Dr. Diane Pevsner 
 Contact Information:
 EB 124
 Phone (205) 975-5351

Orientation and mobility (O&M) is defined as “services provided to blind or visually impaired students by qualified personnel to enable those students to attain systematic orientation to and safe movement within their environments in school, home, and community.  During the past six years, 54 students have been enrolled in the O&M courses at UAB, 26 are nationally certified by ACVREP, 10 are currently preparing for the national exam, 6 completing their practicum, and 6 students are beginning the program in the Summer of 2013.

Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals (ACVREP), the recognized certification body of the professional organization of the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER) lists a total of 40 Certified O&M Specialists (COMS) in Alabama with current certification.  Of those 40 COMS, two are employed at Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind (AIDB)  adult facility which is a full service education and rehabilitation facility that offers employment training, college preparation classes, and independent living skills; two COMS are employed at the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation services which is a state agency that provides various services to children and adults with disabilities; and seven COMS are employed with the local Veterans Administration Hospital which provides services to visually impaired veterans. This leaves the remaining 29 COMS to service the school aged children in Alabama’s 132 school districts.          

The last annual report of the Alabama Instructional Resource Center for the Blind (AIRCB) (2011) was presented to the administrators at Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind (AIDB), Alabama State Department of Education, and the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services (ADRS).  The report indicates that there are 1,660 school aged students in Alabama who are identified as legally blind or low vision students.  According to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), it is very important for blind and visually impaired children, including those with other disabilities, who need O&M services, to receive appropriate instruction as early as possible.  Based on the 29 COMS available to provide services to the 1,660 school aged students who are identified as having a visual impairment and would be eligible to receive O&M services, each COMS would need to carry an approximate caseload of 57 students.   The National Agenda for the Education of Children and Youths with Visual Impairments, Including Those with Multiple Disabilities (2003) suggest a maximum caseload for a COMS to be 15 students.  Based on these numbers, Alabama will need a minimal of 82 additional COMS to meet the current needs of our students with visual impairments.

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