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Hi Bill and thanks for providing us with yet another networking opportunity. This is my first post on here. I think one area in which I need to be more self-confident is orientation&mobility. I have had only light perception since birth and I previously had some top-quality O&M instruction by various professionals in the field. I use a white cane to get around. I was a pretty independent traveler, both indoors and outdoors. I did require some assistance with things like getting on trains, because of a balance problem. But for the most part I was pretty independent. However, this is not the case anymore. In August of 2004 I made the decision to move out of my parents' house and into an apartment in a nearby city. This apartment is part of a nonprofit organization which creates living opportunities for people with special needs. My apartment building happens to be in an area which seems to be constantly under construction. When I approached my state VR agency and requested some O&M instruction, they basically told me no way. These people told me that I needed a job first, before they could work on the O&M part. I immediately thought to myself, "Something is very wrong here!" This was also the thinking of my parents and the staff of this organization. Given the fact that my building is virtually surrounded by construction, however, we had put the O&M issue on the back burner. But now it is time to start looking at it again. At this point I'd like to bring up a question. What do you and others think about the argument that we need jobs before O&M? What if the process were reversed? I was going to bring this up with my VR counselors, but they wouldn't let me. Now I don't even go out of my building alone unless I am waiting for someone, in which case I wait close to the building or just inside the front door if the weather is not cooperative. Thoughts anyone?

Hi Jake,

Thanks for visiting and posting. You bring up a great question.

I know for sure what you mean about needing extra help with orientation and mobility (O & M). I could use more help in that area myself.

Not sure where you are located or if your VR is provided by Department of Rehabilitation (DR) if in the US. If you are in another country they might have some service that is equivalent, but not sure. If so I would argue that without proper O & M you could not successfully go out to interviews when you want or needed. What would happen if the potential employer called you and wanted to see you immediately. Without the O & M training to allow you to leave your residence safely and immediately without having to wait for help you might miss that job prospect.

Without the ability to practice your O & M skills anytime you feel like you may loose some of your well defined skills it took you most likely years to hone. If your VR decided to pay for O & M at some later date you would require more hours to get back up to speed which will cost more money in the long run. If you live in the US they would even save more money once you found a job because the state would not have to pay you social security.

I hope these suggestions help. Does anyone else have any suggestions or advice that may help.

Look forward to hearing from you.

Bill Tipton
Contributing Author,
Global Dialogue Center

Thanks for your suggestions. Actually, I have attempted to explain to my rehab agency that if I needed to get out of my building for whatever reason, and I was alone, I wouldn't really know where to go. My counselors just made the excuse that "any smart person would know that they would need a job first." The rehab people just kept on pushing that excuse and I had absolutely no say in the matter whatsoever. I am located in Illinois, and currently funding has been a huge issue, but I don't necessarily think rehab people should use this excuse to justify not getting an O&M instructor to come out and work with me.

I have asked around some more about the O&M issue both here in this organization and online. Everyone seems to think that my VR agency is dead-on wrong in claiming that I need a job first before O&M is even considered. I have even asked around here if people would mind taking the time to do a bit of informal O&M training with me. As much as everybody cares and wants to help out, their schedules are all tight and they just cannot afford to spend all that time with me. On the one hand I honestly feel like just giving up, but I really don't think I should do that, at least maybe not yet. This weekend I am going to my parents' house for Mothers' Day, and I am going to ask if they might have any more suggestions. I really don't know why the VR agency is doing this to me. I fully understand the funding problem, but I have also heard of other VR clients who don't have jobs and who have been provided with at least some formal O&M instruction. I still have to kind of laugh when I think of what the VR people told me: that I need a job before I need O&M instruction. Some very serious logistical questions come into play here I think.

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