Measuring vision, orientation and mobility in the wild

Authored by: Lil Deverell

The Routledge Handbook of Visual Impairment

Print publication date:  March  2019
Online publication date:  March  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138085411
eBook ISBN: 9781315111353
Adobe ISBN:


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Until recently, the orientation and mobility (O&M) profession has had no way to measure a client’s functional vision or travel capabilities in the wild – unpredictable, everyday places beyond the standardised eye clinic. Functional vision for watching, reading and near tasks can be assessed in tame environments, but during travel in the wild, dramatic lighting changes can cause low vision to plummet to functional blindness, sometimes taking seconds, minutes or even hours to recover; the affected traveller must either stop, or switch over to non-visual travel skills to make safe progress. Two new tools called VROOM and OMO have been developed to measure a client’s functional vision (VROOM) and O&M skills (OMO) during ordinary O&M assessment. These person-centred measures are co-rated, representing shared knowledge about what the client can see and do during pedestrian travel in everyday places. The word and number data generated from assessments enable us to examine the complex relationships between vision, mobility, orientation, travel aids and lifestyle choices. Poor spatial cognition can be more limiting than poor vision. VROOM and OMO results can be used to profile individuals, compare clients, evaluate and improve vision and mobility services and develop evidence-based social policies.

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