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Orientation and Mobility (O&M) specialist education: Reflecting on the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Graduate Diploma in O&M



Orientation and Mobility (O&M) is the practice of enabling and empowering people with low vision or blindness to know where they are (orientation), so they can navigate and move around their surroundings independently and safely (mobility) (Deverell and Scott, 2014). O&M specialists work with people of all ages, tailoring interventions to suit individual client needs. The first Australian trained O&M specialists graduated in 1971 (Deverell and Scott, 2014). Since then, programmes to train O&M specialists in Australia have migrated between universities and between states. Traditionally, industry supported their O&M workforce by selecting, managing, and supporting students financially during their training and in some cases providing in-house training. The introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) (rolled out from 2013–2020) has seen a shift in the O&M profession, with more O&M specialists moving to private practice or between organisations. This shift necessitated a change away from industry-driven training to independent student-initiated university training where the university is responsible for the selection, training, and competency of the graduate. Thus, the Graduate Diploma in Orientation and Mobility (Australian Qualifications Framework-8 level qualification), was established at UNSW, Sydney to create a sustainable programme to strengthen the Australian O&M workforce. This manuscript, written from the perspective of the UNSW O&M education team, which includes academic and professional staff with expertise in O&M, Optometry and Vision Science, will describe the initiation of the Graduate Diploma in O&M at the UNSW School of Optometry and Vision Science. It explores and describes the education agenda, including challenges, and innovative initiatives for teaching O&M preservice specialists.

Frequenza di pubblicazione:
Volume Open
Argomenti della rivista:
Medicine, Clinical Medicine, Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine