Foundations of Orientation and Mobility (3rd edition): Vol. 1 History and Theory and Vol. 2 Instructional Strategies and Practical Applications.
Article Type: Book review
Subject: Books (Book reviews)
Authors: Emerson, Robert Shawn Wall
Leja, James
Pub Date: 08/01/2011
Publication: Name: Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness Publisher: American Foundation for the Blind Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Health Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2011 American Foundation for the Blind ISSN: 0145-482X
Issue: Date: August, 2011 Source Volume: 105 Source Issue: 8
Topic: NamedWork: Foundations of Orientation and Mobility, 3rd ed.: History and Theory (Nonfiction work); Foundations of Orientation and Mobility, vol. 2, 3rd ed.: Instructional Strategies and Practical Applications (Nonfiction work)
Persons: Reviewee: Wiener, William R.; Welsh, Richard L.; Blasch, Bruce B.
Accession Number: 265870242
Full Text: Foundations of Orientation and Mobility (3rd edition): Vol. 1 History and Theory and Vol. 2 Instructional Strategies and Practical Applications. William R. Wiener, Richard L. Welsh, and Bruce B. Blasch (Eds.). New York: AFB Press, 2011, 1580 pp., $150.

How does one review a work of such breadth as the third edition of Foundations of Orientation and Mobility? To gain some sense of perspective, a tome such as "big red" must be viewed by stepping back from it to review its roots. In the introduction, the editors note that, since the original publication of this text from the Foundations series 30 years ago, the field of orientation and mobility (O&M) has undergone tremendous change. Those of you who have the first and second editions of this Foundations book will, however, have a sense of deja. vu when reading the third edition, as many topics and references remain intact. For example, a reference to Mandler and Sarason's (1952) work about how anxiety lessens learning in Welsh's chapter on the psychosocial dimensions of O&M appears across all three editions. But, do not despair, Welsh also cites fresh material related to vision loss and the family from Bambara, Wadley, Owsley, Martin, Porter, and Dreer's (2009) Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness (JVIB) article entitled, "Family Functioning and Low Vision: A Systematic Review." This method of blending old and new research appears to be the approach favored by all the authors of the third edition.

The third edition of Foundations of Orientation and Mobility serves as both a text for students, as well as a reference for professionals. Each chapter begins with a "Learning Questions" section, which is intended to guide the reader toward what the authors believe to be key points of the chapter, and ends with sections on "Implications for O&M Practice" and "Learning Activities.' As mentioned previously, the references for each chapter demonstrate the editors' desire to showcase both historical and current literature for the reader. The appendices relate to the collective chapters, and they keep professional ethics and clinical competencies at the forefront.

As a compendium of the foundational knowledge of the field of O&M, as well as a tool for explicating best practices, this text balances the preservation of key historical knowledge while still adapting to a changing field by the addition of new material. The decision to separate the text into two volumes, one devoted to history and theory and one devoted to instructional strategies and practical applications, is a useful way of serving these two masters. The separation of this text into two volumes allows the reader to more quickly access the kind of information he or she is looking for.


The first of the two volumes discusses the history and the theories associated with the field of O&M. Part One discusses human systems and brings together current thinking about human perception and locomotion and spatial orientation while traveling. It also includes the essentials of low vision as applied to O&M; the role of hearing in O&M; sensorimotor functioning in children, adults, and elderly individuals; the psychosocial dimensions of O&M; and how a chapter on how learning theories informs our teaching and our consumer's learning.

Part Two of the volume explores mobility systems and adaptations. The first of these chapters discusses adaptive technology for O&M. In addition to defining various forms of adaptive technologies, their pros and cons and evolution, the authors of this chapter discuss historical devices and introduce many new ones. A rather large section of the chapter is devoted to electronic orientation aids (EOAs). The reader will notice that the chapter "Dog Guides for Orientation and Mobility" is virtually the same as it was in the second edition. However, a new section presents the outcomes of a 2007 graduate survey conducted by The Seeing Eye regarding the impact of a dog guide on mobility. Chapter 10, by Bentzen and Marston, discusses orientation aids for students with vision loss. In addition to many of the essentials of orientation devices, they introduce a new section on digital maps and digital maps coupled with GPS technology. One chapter in this section, "Environmental Accessibility for Students with Vision Loss," reviews past standards and those under revision. In addition, the authors highlight radio frequency identification devices (RFID) and remote infrared audible signage (RIAS). A large section of this chapter is devoted to street crossings, their detection, information gained from accessible pedestrian signals (APS), issues related to the placement of APS, and how to maintain alignment with or without the use of tactile guide strips or audible beacons that may be a part of APS.

Part Three is about the profession of O&M and its development. Chapter 12, "Administration, Assessment, and Program Planning for Orientation and Mobility," almost tripled in its content from the previous edition. This expansion is due to the inclusion of assessment and program planning information, which was virtually absent from the second edition. Although C. Warren Bledsoe passed away in 2005 at age 92, his chapter on the originators of O&M training remains in this edition as the decisive history of our profession's founders.

Wiener and Siffermann expand their chapter on the history and progression of the profession of O&M by discussing the growth in distance education as a result of recent shifts in education. However, they also discuss the need for evaluating programs as they apply to O&M. The authors discuss the rigorous university program review process and spend considerable time discussing the establishment of an autonomous certification body--the Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals (ACVREP). The authors admirably go beyond ACVREP to include the creation of the National Blindness Professional Certification Board (NBPCB) by the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) to establish the National Orientation and Mobility Certification (NOMC) for individuals trained in what the authors define as the "alternative approach" to O&M.

The chapter on the development of the profession of O&M around the world only differs from the second edition by expanding the number countries that have recognized the importance of O&M to consumers. The editors have also increased the number of photos showing O&M instruction in these countries.

One of the first sentences in Wall Emerson and De l'Aune's chapter on research and the O&M specialist best describes the purpose of the chapter: "This chapter concerns the way research fits into the field of orientation and mobility (O&M) and the role practitioners can play in conducting, disseminating, and reading research" (p. 569). The authors cover different approaches to research, provide examples of O&M research using different designs, and finally examine the different approaches to research and how these approaches may be applied to the field of O&M. This chapter would serve as an excellent supplement to an O&M research methods course.


Rather than remaining a pure compendium of the field's knowledge base, Volume 2 focuses the reader's attention on practical applications of that knowledge. Most of the chapters in this volume present information in the context of procedures for teaching skills or concepts, some even include lesson plans or lesson ideas. Although much of the material in some of the chapters will be considered by experienced practitioners as basic or fundamental knowledge, the beginning practitioner will benefit from having a single text for reference on how to teach basic skills and the rationale on why those skills are important and how they relate to other content areas of O&M instruction.

This volume contains a great deal of new material over the second edition. In addition to chapters that take older material and apply it in a practical manner, application of teaching methodologies and loci are separated by early childhood, school-age, adult, and older adult learners. Each of these sections has been expanded to address classic and current pedagogical practices for the specific age group discussed, with plenty of practical guidance for O&M practitioners. The chapter on orientation devices introduces developments in GPS systems and other digital aids, but the chapter on electronic travel aids develops this topic further, providing sample lesson sequencing for instruction with advanced devices. In a similar vein, the chapter on environmental accessibility from the previous edition has evolved into a chapter on complex intersections, as well as a chapter on transportation systems. These chapters reflect an increasing recognition that O&M instructors must act as liaisons between their clients and an increasingly complex environment. In order to serve in this capacity, O&M instructors must become "travel engineers," that is, they need to have intimate knowledge of traffic engineering, urban planning, and transport system design.

The most important aspect of O&M, of course, is the learner. There are instances in the chapters up to this point in the volume in which material carried over from the second edition seems to take the focus away from the learner and stray more toward the theoretical. However, the final chapters of the volume make up for any such lapses by expanding previous chapters on different learner populations (including those with hearing loss, physical impairments, or cognitive impairments) and including a long overdue chapter on students with cortical or cerebral visual impairment.

The names of many of the chapter authors will be familiar to O&M instructors. Our field is not so large that we do not know who the person is with the most knowledge in a given area. The editors have done well by selecting those individuals from our field who most would acknowledge as the authorities on the topics of their assigned chapters. As such, this text continues to serve the field well by reflecting current best practices as demonstrated by the most recent research and by the established practice of those practitioners most respected in the field. The third edition of Foundations of Orientation and Mobility does an admirable job of upgrading to keep pace with an evolving world and a changing field while still maintaining the highest standards. This two-volume textbook is a good read for anyone interested in O&M, and it is an indispensable resource for those in the field.

Robert Wall Emerson, Ph.D., professor, Department of Blindness and Low Vision Studies, College of Health and Human Services, Western Michigan University. 1903 West Michigan Avenue, Kalamazoo, MI 49008-5218; e-mail: . James A. Leija, Rh.D., chairperson, Department of Blindness and Low Vision Studies, College of Health and Human Services, Western Michigan University; e-mail: .
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