University of Edinburgh
 

Mobility Education Policy Statement

Presented in November 2003 by Martin McLaughlin

North Lanarkshire Council Sensory Support Service (VI)
Knowetop Primary School, Motherwell

Background
What is mobility education?

Many children with visual impairments require extra help with movement skills. Mobility Education, therefore, is a vital part of the school curriculum which teaches VI children a range of orientation and mobility skills and concepts aimed at increasing their safety, confidence and independence when moving around in different environments.

Mobility education is concerned with the development of movement skills required for all activities. These include orientation skills and concepts, eg: distance concepts, directional concepts and learning how to use sensory clues and landmarks which can help a person understand his position in space.

Movement skills include sighted guiding skills, long cane techniques and outdoor mobility skills (eg: road crossing skills, shopping skills and using public transport).

The importance of mobility education cannot be overstated as there is clear evidence that without a well-structured programme of mobility education, young people with visual impairments suffer socially, emotionally, economically and physically.

The aims of the mobility education service

Mobility education aims to provide an inclusive approach where all the VI children are important members of the mainstream school.

By formulating well-structured, individual based training programmes, the Mobility Education Specialist aims to increase the children’s safety, confidence and independence when travelling around in different environments.

By the end of Primary 7 the children should have developed a range of mobility skills and concepts which will maximise their independence as they prepare to enter secondary school.

How is mobility education delivered in North Lanarkshire?

North Lanarkshire Education Department employs a full-time Mobility Education Specialist, Martin McLaughlin, who is based at Knowetop Primary School.

He provides orientation and mobility skills training to all pupils with a visual impairment in Knowetop and also provides a peripatetic service where he visits VI children based in nurseries and primary schools throughout North Lanarkshire.

Although mobility education programmes usually begin at nursery level, Mr McLaughlin also provides an advisory service to parents and staff involved with very young children with visual impairments.

During the school holidays, Mr McLaughlin is based at North Lanarkshire Council Psychological Services in Chapelhall. Over this period he visits VI children at their homes in North Lanarkshire and provides mobility training which increases their safety, confidence and independence when travelling around their local communities.

Referral process

The referral process and reporting procedures can be illustrated by the following flow chart:When a referral is made for a child to receive a mobility assessment, the VI Support Teacher completes a Mobility Referral Form prepared by the mobility education specialist.

Copies of the Mobility Action Plan, IEP and Annual Report are given to the VI support teacher, class teacher and the parents. A copy is also kept in the pupil’s individual file.

Throughout a child’s mobility training programme, the mobility education specialist has regular consultations with all relevant people involved with working with the child. They include parents, teachers, auxiliary staff and even the child’s classmates.

Other responsibilities of the mobility education specialist include conducting awareness-raising sessions to highlight the mobility issues affecting children with visual impairments. He also carries out mobility audits of schools and nurseries to assess the accessibility for VI children.

Conclusion

North Lanarkshire Council Education Department has identified that mobility education is crucial for the personal development of a child with a visual impairments. By formulating well-structured, individualised training programmes, the mobility education specialist teaches VI children a range of movement skills which will increase their safety, confidence and independence when travelling around in school grounds and in the local community.

The orientation and mobility skills learned are vitally important and will remain significant throughout the child’s life as s/he prepares to enter adulthood.

Martin McLaughlin

Target setting and mobility