November-December 2016  Volume 110  Number 6

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Book Review

O&M for Independent Living: Strategies for Teaching Orientation and Mobility to Older Adults. Nora Griffin-Shirley and Laura Bozeman, Editors. New York: AFB Press, 2016, 286 pp. Paperback, $39.95; e-book (ePUB or Kindle), $27.95; online, $23.95; or by online chapter, $10.95 each.

Kevin Hollinger

Print edition page number(s) 481-482

I was honored when AFB Press asked me to review O&M for Independent Living: Strategies for Teaching Orientation and Mobility to Older Adults, edited by Nora Griffin-Shirley and Laura Bozeman. In my current roles as a board member for the Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation & Education Professionals (ACVREP), past-chair of the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER) O&M Division, and member of the AER University Executive Panel, I immediately recognized the potential impact this book will have on our profession and in the lives of the aging population living with blindness or low vision. As two of the leading professionals in O&M university personnel preparation programs, Drs. Griffin-Shirley and Bozeman deliver a stellar resource through their recruitment and collaboration with other forward-thinking contributors. This book will make an immediate and lasting impact on the profession of O&M and will likely influence university personnel preparation programs internationally.

Specific strategies and research-based, practical implications

Throughout every chapter of the book, the authors demonstrate a deep passion for promoting efficient, independent travel, as well as advancing problem-solving skills. There is no doubt that each O&M professional is being challenged by this book to pursue and maintain high expectations for their teaching, collaboration, professional development, and contributions to the field. This book offers insights and research-based implications for practitioners in the areas of sensory changes that are common in aging; ways to modify instructional techniques for older people; a thorough review of mobility tools; environmental adaptations and modifications; the importance of exercise, health, and wellness; and the vital need for collaboration among related professionals.

O&M for Independent Living repeatedly offers specific implications and strategies for O&M professionals. I gained tremendous insight from the numerous sidebars sprinkled throughout the book. All of the contributing authors committed themselves to providing practical implications for teaching and collaboration. For Example, James Scott Crawford provides "Sidebar 4.4, Training Clients to Use Distance Devices," to offer strategies for utilizing monocular telescopes, binoculars, and bioptics, and he includes added implications for the aging population within his narrative. Another example is the full spectrum of mobility tools that practitioners can consider to improve client-focused travel needs, including a fair balance of identified advantages and disadvantages of various orientation tools and mobility systems.

Problem solving, creative thinking, and the importance of family

The editors did well to ensure each contributing author focused on the promotion of problem solving and creative thinking coupled with the assessment of environmental adaptation and modification. The themes presented by this book will challenge university professors and internship supervisors to provide opportunities for their students to consider how clients use self-examination to identify current or future needs or both based on prior experiences. In addition, discussions of the implications of accessibility and universal design will surely occur between students and supervisors. The students will then likely utilize strategies to identify and combat environmental barriers, obstacles, and hazards in regard to promoting efficient, independent travel skills. Ultimately, the editors provide practitioners an opportunity to reflect upon their own personal strengths and challenges in the areas of evaluation, instruction, and collaboration.

The way in which the editors and contributing authors promoted the importance of family is also commendable. They repeatedly encourage practitioners to provide client-driven initiatives while including the family by identifying family values and considering the client's quality of life and how to maximize re-engagement and self-confidence. I appreciate the authors' recognizing that not every service-delivery team functions in the same way while also expecting every team to achieve meaningful, self-identified goals. They charge practitioners to make practical recommendations through collaboration, role-release, and "joint problem solving" by evaluating various team models while explaining many inherent barriers that may contribute to challenges in service delivery. The importance of family also extends to a brilliant chapter appendix by John Clare, a teacher of students with visual impairments and an O&M specialist who works in Alaska. His contribution, "Appendix 3A, O&M for Older Individuals with Visual Impairment in Rural Areas: Reflections from an O&M Specialist in Alaska," discusses respecting life choices and their influence on the lives of individuals while also helping clients internalize their capability of learning to become a better traveler. Every O&M specialist needs to consider Mr. Clare's wisdom regarding the impact of local geography and climate as well as community values in their own instructional planning and collaboration.

Proactive strategies and initiatives

Finally, Dr. Griffin-Shirley's thought-provoking "Epilogue, Current and Emerging Issues for O&M Service Provision," is a must read for every blindness professional. In it, Dr. Griffin-Shirley provides "Table 9.1, Response to Challenges to the Provision of O&M Services for Older Adults with Vision Loss," a call to action for the field of visual impairment in which she discusses the need for increased research and best practices, exploration of funding sources, curriculum development, advocacy and empowerment, public education, and fostering a push for the certification of more O&M specialists. As a former board member for AER and a current board member for ACVREP, I agree implicitly with Dr. Griffin-Shirley's desire to see proactive strategies and initiatives emerge from all leaders in our field--consumers, consumer groups, researchers, practitioners, agencies, certification bodies, and membership organizations. Each of us must contribute by doing our own part for the growth and sustainability of our profession! This book will surely become a go-to resource for O&M specialists who work with the aging population. Those who work with children, however, will also glean many practical insights from this text, and these practitioners should be encouraged to read this book, as well.


Kevin Hollinger, M.A., M.Ed., COMS, NBCT, teacher of students with visual impairments and orientation and mobility specialist, Francis Howell School District, 4545 Central School Road, St. Charles, MO 63304; and Lighthouse for the Blind-St. Louis, 10440 Trenton Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63132; and consultant, and director, Hollinger Consulting, 1280 Stephenridge Drive, St. Charles, MO, 63304; e-mail: <kjhollinger@sbcglobal.net>.


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