New practitioner identifies the need for more multilingual orientation and mobility instructional materials.
Article Type: Report
Subject: Physicians (General practice) (Practice)
Teaching (Equipment and supplies)
Teaching (Usage)
Author: Martinez, David
Pub Date: 10/01/2011
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: Oct-Nov, 2011 Source Volume: 105 Source Issue: 10
Topic: Event Code: 200 Management dynamics
Geographic: Geographic Scope: United States Geographic Code: 1USA United States
Accession Number: 272077503
Full Text: I am very thankful, honored and privileged to be a member of the orientation and mobility (O&M) community. I graduated in 2010, and I just completed my first year working as an O&M service provider in Southern California. In any endeavor, one faces many challenges and disappointments. On the other hand, it is possible to discover many innovations and creative solutions with persistence and the sharing of ideas. As inexperienced as I am, I feel that this first year has been successful, full of personal and professional growth. The first year in which one is working in a new profession can make or break the individual. This is why the foundation on which you build your professional expertise must be solid. I feel that any success that I encountered my first year did not stem solely from my own effort, but from the extraordinary professors, excellent mentors, and amazing clients that have guided my foundational knowledge, problem solving, and ability to adapt to O&M's ever-evolving frontiers. I consider the loving support and caring attention I received (and continue to receive) from my professors and mentors as the cornerstone of this field. This professional support has also prepared me well for two of the main challenges I confronted in my first year of work.

One of the greatest challenges I have faced thus far is the lack of awareness of O&M by members of the public and school staff members. School administrators and personnel sometimes cut my O&M program short because of this lack of awareness. I often had to advocate for the basic needs of some of my students, such as being able to transport students off campus for lessons during the school day. In addition, a school staff member thought that "O&M Specialist" stood for "Operations and Maintenance Services." I knew I would face challenges as an O&M practitioner, and I hope that those of us in the field can continue to work toward gaining public visibility of and professional credibility for O&M to help alleviate some of these straggles.

As the field of O&M continues to grow, ! think great importance should be placed on meeting the specific language needs of the population of each region we serve. Language needs is something I was made aware of during my university training. I am lucky to be Hispanic and bilingual in an area in which Spanish is spoken widely. My language skills and acquired cultural sensitivity has definitely allowed me to work more effectively with the growing population of Hispanic students and clients, and their families. In the past the American Foundation for the Blind published a manual to assist English and Spanish translations of O&M instructions. However, it is no longer available in print. The need for multilingual instructional materials is something we should not overlook as we offer O&M services to non-English-speaking communities.

As a fresh "O&Mer," I am very excited to see what the future has in store for us. I am optimistic about the direction in which we are headed. It is great to witness all the technological advances taking place. The mind-opening research of our field is also very promising. With all these new avenues opening up, I feel that O&M is on its way to greater and better things.

David Martinez, M.A., COMS, O&M specialist, Fontana Unified School District," mailing address: 9680 Citrus Avenue, Building 33, Fontana, CA 92334; e-mail: .
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