Area 5: Habilitation: Orientation and Mobility

This area of the CFVI, which has close alignment with sensory development (Area 2), recognises the importance of teaching children and young people with vision impairment to be able to navigate the world around them, and to be able to move safely and with confidence from one place to the next. It recognises the importance of each child/young person being supported to be as independent as possible, in an age appropriate way. It also recognises that other conditions (e.g. learning and/or physical disabilities) may have an influence on how movement is achieved and taught. Much of the teaching should be undertaken by, or under the direction of, a registered qualified habilitation specialists (RQHS) or (particularly as the young person moves into adult services) a rehabilitation worker (vision impairment).

For more information regarding this element of the framework, please download the Curriculum Framework for Children and Young People with Vision Impairment (CFVI) and accompanying guidance.

Examples of targeted intervention approaches

  • Body awareness.
  • Motor skills development (fine and gross) – the ability to move and interact with one’s immediate and distant environment.
  • Engaging actively with surroundings.
  • Using senses to navigate environment. 
  • Development of spatial cognition including mental maps of the environment.
  • Navigating home environment.
  • Walking safely indoors.
  • Navigating indoor environments.
  • Working with a sighted guide.
  • Walking safely outdoors.
  • Using landmarks.
  • Planning safe and efficient routes.
  • Using tactile maps for orientation and mobility.
  • Navigating outdoor environments, including road safety.
  • Using mobility aids, including from an early age. This would include a full range of potential mobility aids, e.g. various canes, guide dog, electronic devices (including specialist Apps and equipment), smart wheelchair with switch.
  • Using public transport.
  • Travelling alone, including interacting with the general public.
  • Travelling to unfamiliar places.
  • Accessing information in public places.
  • Understanding own needs and knowing when to ask for help.
  • Core functional skills for sports and fitness.

Use of resources in practice

When using resources signposted via or downloaded from RNIB Bookshare, consideration should be given to any health and safety risks that might be involved and it is the responsibility of the user of these resources to undertake an appropriate risk assessment where applicable. RNIB assumes no responsibility or liability to the extent permitted by law for any injury, loss or damage incurred as a result of any use or reliance upon the information and material contained within or downloaded from RNIB Bookshare.


Benefits of orientation and mobility input to children and young people with VI: Overviews

Assessing levels of support

  • NatSIP: Habilitation Eligibility Framework (External). A 2016 Framework for Scoring Support Levels developed for use by Registered Qualified Habilitation Specialists in local authority Sensory Support Services offering outreach support to children, young people and their families and educational settings.

Motor skills Development (fine and gross)

Downloadable Resources

Instructional guides:

Early mobility

Downloadable Resources
Activity Cards for parents and professionals:

Independent mobility

  • Guide Dogs: Getting around safely (External). Practical advice for individuals with VI on getting around safely, including mobility for both outdoors and indoors, such as using a long cane or protective techniques. Content for QTVIs, other professionals, CYPVI, families. 
  • RNIB: Mobility and independence at school (External). How to encourage children and young people to become independent in their learning and play.
  • RNIB: Access to Education (External). Guide looking at ways in which professionals can help reduce barriers to learning by understanding the individual needs of learners with vision impairment, providing accessible resources, enhancing communication skills. Section 4 focuses on making adjustments to the physical and sensory environment and includes information on environmental audits.