Children's Mobility Services Learn to experience the world

We all learn how to interact with the world from the day we are born. Through safe play, work, travelling around, and being active, we learn how to connect with our community and be part of it.

Children who have low vision or blindness are no different, but need to develop alternative or additional ways of interacting with their environment. These skills are taught through Children’s Mobility Services.

Mobility Services teach children how to better understand their environment, and gives them techniques to confidently and safely move through those environments.

They offer skills for children with low vision or blindness to experience their day-to-day world, gain confidence, get active and ultimately get out and about independently.

Three girls walking through school grounds, the girl in the middle is using a cane

Children's Mobility Services Orientation & Mobility: get moving through life

Orientation & Mobility is a training framework where children learn how to navigate their home and outdoor environments safely. We believe in the potential of every child.

Education is a key part of the approach. Our Orientation & Mobility specialists teach children specific new skills by building on their existing abilities.

Just like any other set of life skills, it is important to continually strengthen Orientation & Mobility training. It should be seen as an ongoing part of a child’s education as they develop age-appropriate skills and grow into young adults.

In support of ongoing training, we offer individual programs, camps, group programs, consultant services, and workshops; free of charge.

As children progress through the programs, they:

  • Learn about body concepts and how they relate to space and the environment
  • Develop confidence and independent thinking skills
  • Explore problem solving abilities and are encouraged to seek answers independently
Smiling boy standing on a wooden playground

Children's Mobility Services Could your child benefit from Orientation & Mobility Services?

Does your child:

  • Run into objects on the ground, at eye level or at head level?
  • Bump into other children in the corridor at school?
  • Stumble or hesitate at steps and gutters?
  • Seem anxious when walking on uneven surfaces?

Can your child:

  • Locate friends in the playground easily?
  • Visually identify nearby landmarks, such as doors, letterboxes, or shop signs?

Does your child:

  • Have difficulty walking in dark or dimly lit areas?
  • Have difficulty moving from a dark room to a light area, or vice versa?
  • Have difficulty moving about in glary conditions?
  • Flinch at shadows on the footpath?

Can your child:

  • See the traffic lights?
  • Cross the road safely?
  • Follow directions well?

Does your child:

  • Appear anxious when travelling in familiar or unfamiliar environments?
  • Appear anxious in busy and crowded areas?
  • Get lost easily, even in familiar areas?

A child experiencing any of the above difficulties may benefit from the skills learned in Children’s Mobility Services.

Boy has his hand on the pedestrian crossing button and his cane in front of him

Children's Mobility Services What are Orientation & Mobility skills?

Our training programs are undertaken in accordance with the Orientation & Mobility Framework. The framework covers a range of practical skills to help with daily life.

1. Self & sense

Understanding the body, the body’s position in space and the environment around it.

2. Spatial concepts

Developing orientation awareness and a variety of techniques to remain comfortably oriented while travelling.

3. Thinking and problem solving

Identifying a problem, learning to understand options, actions and possible consequences, planning and implementing a strategy, and evaluating the results.

4. Communication

Understanding of a variety of communication methods, and where, how, and when they can be used for best results.

5. Safety

Developing awareness of potential dangers and hazards, and taking appropriate steps to increase safety.

6. Exploration

Understanding how to access information from the space around you, and learning specific movements to help in comprehending environments quickly.

7. Environment & access

Developing knowledge of a variety of common environments, their structural features and strategies for safe navigation in different areas.

8. Route travel

Learning how to travel safely from one destination to another, with a focus on mapping concepts and orientation skills.

9. Traffic

Understanding road concepts, road configurations, road rules and traffic flow, and safe crossing procedures and decision making skills.

10. Mapping

Understanding of key mapping concepts and use of a variety of maps and mapping tools, such as digital, audio, mental and tactile maps, to aid orientation and independent travel.

11. Mobility aids

Understanding how and when to safely use a variety of physical mobility aids, and when and where each variety of aid is most appropriate.

Deverell, L., Taylor, S., & Prentice, J. (2009). Orientation and mobility methods: Techniques for independent travel. Melbourne, Australia: Guide Dogs Victoria.

Children's Mobility Services Programs and group workshops

In addition to ongoing training, we offer a range of support programs and workshops.

Before developing an individual training plan, our Orientation & Mobility Specialists conduct assessments with each child, their parents, teachers, and a range of relevant professionals.

We then begin work in whatever environment your child is most comfortable, for the best chance at success: home, school, work, or within our specialised training facility in Kew.

At home:

Our Mobility Specialists aim to establish a strong and ongoing relationship with every child and their family.

We work closely with families to develop individual program goals. We also encourage children to play a role in directing their own mobility program, to further improve confidence and independence.

At school:

Specialists can attend a child’s school and also participate in Student Support Group Meetings. This involves meeting at the school to discuss the specific goals of the mobility program, and can include professional development sessions for personnel at the school.

Our Mobility Specialists can also complete an assessment of the specific school grounds. After looking over the environment, we can make recommendations to create a safer and easier setting for the student.

At workshops, camps and events:

We run four to five Orientation & Mobility group programs each year. The ‘camps’ give children opportunities to develop social networks while honing their mobility skills.

Occupational Therapists are involved in our group programs and encourage additional practical independent living skills, such as:

  • Food preparation
  • Kitchen safety
  • Personal care
  • Money handling

Some of the group programs are based on site at Guide Dogs Victoria, while off-site events have been held in Ballarat, Melbourne’s CBD, and on the Great Ocean Road.

Technology training.

Want to know more about how technology can assist your mobility needs? We can help you to use technology you already own in different and more effective ways – like your smartphone for example – or we can assess you for specific mobility technology like GPS devices.

child exploring blocks and textures to make a construction

Children's Mobility Services Service charges

Children’s Mobility Services are available to children of all ages and their families, regardless of whether you have access to government funding.

Any child with low vision or blindness can be referred to our Mobility Service for assessment and training. We recommend planning ahead and referring a child well before any significant milestones in their life: for example, before a child transitions from kindergarten to primary school.

If you have access to funding by a government agency such as Better Start, the National Disability Insurance Scheme, the Transport Accident Commission, or are subject to a court case, we will seek costs for the services directly from these departments with your permission.

As a philanthropic organisation, we will always support people to access services regardless of your financial position.

We welcome all referrals and enquiries from children, parents or guardians, health professionals and visiting teachers.

Contact the Children’s Mobility Service for more information:

A small model of a neighbourhood built by kids at a CMS camp

Children's Mobility Services Free resources

We’re excited to launch a new interactive and accessible website ‘Gabby’s Going Places’. Visit the site to learn more about vision loss, orientation and mobility, guide dog mobility and play fun games as well!

Proudly supported by the auDA Foundation Gabby’s Going Places is an educational website for use by children, teenagers, their parents and teachers to understand the challenges of living with low vision or blindness.”

‘GABBY’S GOING PLACES’

Growing up with low vision.
An activity book for children aged 8-14.

Meet Gabby: a 14 year old girl with very low vision. She uses braille for literacy and a long cane for mobility, but she really wants a Guide Dog.

The book introduces children to the challenges of living with very low vision and identifies the extra people Gabby has in her life because of her vision.

Complete the activities to learn more about very low vision.

‘LOOK OUT, MARCUS!’

Growing up with low vision.
An activity book for children aged 8-14.

Find out about Marcus, a 10 year old boy with Stargardt’s Disease. His central vision is deteriorating, but he is definitely not blind.

Meet the extra people Marcus has in his life because of his low vision.

Do the activities to learn more about low vision.

Kids may like to work through Look Out, Marcus! independently; teachers can use this resource in the classroom with minimal preparation.

Click here to download a copy of the book

front cover of the Gabby and Marcus books