The Unseen Minority: A Social History of Blindness in the United States

Historical Chronologies

Dates and Events That Influenced the Development of O&M*

1860 Sir Francis Campbell experiments with long cane for "foot travel" at Perkins.
1872 Blindness and the Blind—A Treatise on the Science of Typhology by W. Hanks Levy.
1918–25 Dog guides trained for blinded World War I veterans in France and Germany.
1929 Seeing Eye, Inc. founded in Nashville, Tennessee, and the first dog guide school in United States, incorporated.
1930 The first white cane ordinance passed sponsored by Peoria Illinois Lions Club.
1931 Lion's Club International voted to support the passage of white cane laws in every state.
1939–45 World War II.
1944 Facial Vision: The Perception of Obstacles by the Blind by Supa, Cotzin, and Dallenback published.
1944 Hoover and others develop long-cane mobility techniques at Valley Forge Army Hospital. This was the real beginning of what has been called "foot travel." The term "orientation and mobility" was not common until the 1950s.
1945 The Surgeon General's office dispatched an orientor (C. Warren Bledsoe) from Valley Forge Army General Hospital at Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, to Dibble Army General Hospital at Menlo Park, California, to teach the cane method.
1947 Opening of the Veterans Administration (VA) Hines Rehabilitation Center.
1947 First six O&M specialists selected at Hines VA Hospital—John Malamazian, Stanley Suterko, Alfred Dee Corbett, Edward Thuis, Lawrence Blaha, and Edward Mees.
1948 Russell C. Williams appointed as Chief of Hines Blind Unit.
1952 The film, The Long Cane , produced through the VA.
1953 Father Thomas J. Carroll of the Catholic Guild for the Blind in Boston mounts Gloucester Conference to define mobility instructor's role and training.
1954 Through the efforts of Mary E. Switzer, Director of the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, the Vocational Rehabilitation Act supported demonstration grants in the area of preparation of O&M specialists.
1959 National Conference funded by AFB to establish criteria for the basic selection of mobility personnel, to develop a curriculum, and to recommend length of training and appropriate sponsorship.
1959 Ultrasonic Hand-Held Torch developed by Leslie Kay.
1960 Instruction in Physical Orientation and Foot Travel, A Lesson Plan Outline , published by The Industrial Home for the Blind, New York.
1960 Boston College starts first university program for O&M instructors. (Closed in May 1991.)
1961 Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, second university training program established.
1961 Commission on Standards and Accreditation of Services for the Blind (COMSTAC).
1963 Standards for collapsible cane presented at Mobility Research Conference, MIT.
1964 Mobility in Perspective by Martha J. Ball published.
1964 First Long Cane Newsletter published, Vol. 1, No. 1, jointly by Boston College and Western Michigan University.
1964 Specifications for the Long Cane published by Veterans Administration.
1964 A petition approved by the AAWB Board of Directors for a new interest group devoted to O&M; Rod Kossick appointed as chairperson.
1964 Pathsounder was invented by Lindsay Russell while a consulting engineer with the Sensory Aids Evaluation and Development Center at MIT.
1965 First meeting of Interest Group IX (AAWB), Denver, Colorado.
1965–66 Loyal E. (Gene) Apple serves as Chairperson of AAWB Interest Group IX.
1966 Ad Hoc Committee Concerned with Mobility Instruction for the Blind met in Washington, DC.
1966 At the AAWB Convention in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Interest Group IX formed a committee to study the certification of O&M instructors.
1966 Mobility Group of AAIB established, Salt Lake City, Utah. Donald Blasch, first chairperson.
1966 California State University at Los Angeles training program in O&M was funded by VRA.
1966 Laser Cane was developed and manufactured by J. Malvern Benjamin and his colleagues at Bionic Instruments, Inc.
1966 Binaural Sensory Aid (forerunner to Sonicguide) developed by Leslie Kay at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand.
1966 First Interest Group newsletter published.
1966 California Association of O&M Specialists (CAOMS) established, designated as a "professional association" instead of a more general "mobility interest group." Active membership limited to O&M specialists; associate membership available.
1966 COMSTAC Report published.
1966 Florida State University established first undergraduate O&M training program.
1966 San Francisco State University established first graduate-level programs to prepare mobility instructors of children. Grant funded by U.S. Office of Education.
1966–67 Fredick A. Silver serves as chairperson of AAWB Interest Group IX.
1967 Establishment of Midlands Mobility Center in England by Stanley Suterko.
1967–68 John Malamazian serves as chairperson of AAWB Interest Group IX.
1967 After the AAWB Convention in Florida, Interest Group IX appointed an accreditation committee, later named Certification Standards Committee.
1968 AAIB became the Association for Education of the Visually Handicapped (AEVH).
1968 Gary Coker serves as chairperson of AEVH Mobility Interest Group.
1968–69 Stanley Suterko serves as chairperson of AAWB Interest Group IX.
1968 Lawrence E. Blaha Award established in Division Nine of AAWB—Lawrence E. Blaha first recipient, Toronto, Canada.
1968 Interest Group IX adopted procedures and requirements for certification of O&M specialists; request sent to AAWB Board of Directors for approval.
1968 AAWB Board of Directors approved the certification procedures and requirements with the stipulation that the AAWB bylaws would need changing before certification can become a reality.
1968 Demonstration of Home and Community Support Needed to Facilitate Mobility Instruction for Blind Youth by Francis E. Lord and Lawrence E. Blaha published.
1969 Rotterdam Mobility Research Conference.
1969 California State Department of Education established a State Teaching Credential for Orientation and Mobility Instructors as a result of the efforts of the California Association of Orientation and Mobility Specialists. This is a definite step in the direction of high mobility standards in California public schools systems.
1969 AAWB appoints a committee representing various interests and geographical areas to implement the certification of O&M instructors.
1969 The AAWB Certification Committee met for the first time for the sole purpose of implementing the Certification Procedures as adopted by the membership at the 1968 convention, and approved by the AAWB Board of Directors.
1969 U.S. Office of Education funded two programs at the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Northern Colorado (dual certification).
1969 Model O&M Project for institutionalized mentally retarded blind—Boston College and Walter Fernald State School, Paul McDade.
1969 Model O&M Itinerant Project, Alameda County Public Schools, Haywood, California.
1969 First O&M certifications approved (56 for permanent certification and 40 for provisional certification), AAWB National Convention, Chicago, Illinois.
1969 Dr. Richard Hoover receives Blaha Award, Chicago.
1969–71 Robert Mills serves as cochairperson of AEVH Mobility Group.
1969–71 Robert H. Whitstock serves as chairperson of AAWB Interest Group IX.
1969 University of Pittsburgh O&M program begins. Funded by the U.S. Office of Education.
1970 Mobility conference held at Florida State University primarily for university personnel preparing O&M instructors at the university level. Universities represented: Boston College, California State College at Los Angeles, Florida State University, San Francisco State College, University of Pittsburgh, and Western Michigan University.
1970 The First 15 Years at Hines by John Malamazian published.
1970 New York State Association of Orientation and Mobility Specialists (NYSAOMS) established.
1970 San Francisco Low Vision Mobility Conference.
1971 Distance Vision and Perceptual Training: A Concept for Use in the Mobility Training of Low Vision Clients , by Loyal Apple and Marianne May published.
1971 Low Vision Abstracts begins publication.
1971 First Binaural Sensory Aids course taught in United States at Boston College and Western Michigan University.
1971 Vision requirements for O&M certification change from 20/20 and normal field to 20/40 acuity and field of 140 degrees.
1971 O&M certification "grandfather" clause expired.
1971 Undergraduate applicants for O&M certification defined.
1971 Interest Group IX to investigate the question of "Mobility Aides."
1971 First Regional Midwest O&M Non-Conference (NCOMA), Jacksonville, Illinois.
1971–73 Robert Crouse serves as chairperson of AAWB Interest Group IX.
1971 G. William Debetaz received Blaha Award, Richmond, Virginia. First presentation of the Sir Francis Campbell cane.
1972 First Southeastern Orientation and Mobility Association (SOMA) Conference, Daytona Bleach, Florida.
1972 Pennsylvania Association of Orientation and Mobility Specialists (PAOMS) established.
1972 Stephen F. Austin University, Cleveland State University, and Talladega State College begin O&M programs (all undergraduate).
1973 How Does A Blind Person Get Around? published by AFB.
1973 O&M Paraprofessional Training Program funded by Virginia Commission for the Blind and RSA, directed by Robert Scheffe.
1973 O&M Code of Ethics adopted by AAWB Interest Group IX.
1973 Introduction of the Code of Ethics Enforcement Procedures, which was not accepted by Interest Group IX membership.
1973 Report of the Ad Hoc Committee on Mobility Aides presented to Interest Group IX.
1973 Stanley Suterko received Blaha Award, Cleveland, Ohio.
1973–75 Bruce Blasch (elected), Frank Ryan (served) chairperson of AAWB Interest Group IX.
1974 Robert O. LaDuke serves as chairperson of AEVH Mobility Group.
1974 First comprehensive 6-week postgraduate courses in ETAs offered in United States at Western Michigan University.
1975 First questionnaire sent to Interest Group IX members on the role of paraprofessionals in the field of O&M.
1975 Low Vision Mobility Workshop at Western Michigan University.
1975 Hunter College, New York and University of Arkansas, Little Rock, begin O&M programs (terminated in 1982).
1975 AFB Conference on Travel in Adverse Weather, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
1975 Certification Committee of Interest Group IX includes representative from AEVH.
1975 Russell C. Williams received Blaha Award, Atlanta, Georgia.
1975–77 William (Bill) Wiener chairperson of AAWB Interest Group IX.
1975 Establishment of the Interest Group IX Code of Ethics Committee.
1976–78 David Loux serves as chairperson of AEVH Mobility Group.
1976 Orientation and Mobility Techniques: A Guide for the Practitioner by E. Hill and P. Ponder published by AFB.
1976 Travel in Adverse Weather Conditions by R. Welsh and W. Wiener published by AFB.
1977 Mowat Sensor developed by Geoff Mowat.
1977 A second O&M techniques book published, Center for Independent Living.
1977 Donald Blasch received Blaha Award, Portland, Oregon.
1977–79 Robert Mills serves as chairperson of AAWB Interest Group IX.
1978–80 Bob Bryant serves as chairperson of AEVH Mobility Group.
1978 Illinois O&M Association established.
1978 RSA funds university O&M programs for all disabilities ("Generic O&M") at University of Wisconsin, Madison (funding discontinued in 1983).
1979 First International Mobility Conference (IMC‐1), Frankfurt, West Germany.
1979 ETA Certification for O&M specialist first considered.
1979 Vision requirements for O&M certification change from measured acuity/fields to functional vision requirements.
1979 Interest Group IX self-study and on-site review process of university O&M programs begins.
1979 Northern Illinois O&M program begins.
1979 Recognition of Talladego College O&M program by Interest Group IX (removed in 1990).
1979 Interest Group IX votes to support changes in certification requirements to provisional and professional; profession certification must be renewed every 5 years with documentation of professional activities.
1979 John D. Malamazian received Blaha Award, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
1979–81 Kent Wardell serves as chairperson of AAWB Interest Group IX.
1979 Historian/Archivist, Berdell (Pete) Wurzburger, appointed by Interest Group IX chairperson.
1979 AAWB appoints a Board Committee to review certification documents presented for Board approval. Committee referred to as Certification Standards Committee, later named Certification Review Committee.
1979 Association of University Educators in O&M and Rehabilitation Training established.
1980–82 Andrew S. Papineau serves as Beal Pickett cochairperson of AEVH Mobility Group.
1980 Foundations of Orientation & Mobility edited by R. Welsh and B. Blasch published by AFB.
1980 Recognition of University of Wisconsin O&M program by Interest Group IX (removed in 1990).
1980 Recognition of Peabody College of Vanderbilt University O&M program by Interest Group IX (removed in 1995).
1981 Second International Mobility Conference (IMC‐2), Paris, France.
1981 AFB (National O&M Consultant, Mark Uslan) takes over publication of Long Cane News.
1981 Formation of the Alliance, which served as a vehicle for the consolidation of AAWB and AEVH.
1981 Interest Group IX votes to support the requirements for ETA certification.
1981 John Eichorn received Blaha Award, Toronto.
1981–82 James Liska serves as chairperson of AAWB Interest Group IX.
1982 Toni Heinze serves as chairperson of AEVH Mobility Group.
1982–83 Gala Saber-Brooks serves as chairperson of AAWB Interest Group IX, Orlando.
1982 ETA Certification Standards approved by AAWB Board of Directors.
1982 Leadership Program (Doctoral Level) at Peabody starts.
1983 Lee Farmer receives Blaha Award, Phoenix, Arizona.
1983–84 Stephen Sanford (AAWB) and Berdell Wurzburger (AEVH) cochairpersons of Division Nine.
1983 AFB funds National O&M Competency Study.
1983 Third International Mobility Conference (IMC‐3), Vienna, Austria.
1983 Western Michigan University granted funds to look at professionals' attitudes toward the formation of a professional organization.
1983 Dominican College undergraduate O&M program begins (removed in 1988).
1983 Orientation and Mobility Association of Oregon (OMAO) established.
1983 Research and Demonstration Project (A. Bradfield)—Distance Vision Curriculum for O&M Instructors funded.
1983 NIHR Research and Demonstration Project, Pennsylvania College of Optometry/Peabody College—O&M for Low Vision Individuals funded.
1984 Geneseo (New York) O&M Program begins (lost funding in 1986).
1984 Peabody Preschool O&M Project (HCEEP Model Demonstration Project) is funded.
1984 AAWB and AEVH consolidate to become the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER).
1984 Warren Bledsoe received Blaha Award, Nashville.
1984–86 Patricia Coffey Bucci (elected, served 1984–1985); Jim Newcomer (served 1985–1986) chairperson of AER Division Nine.
1986 Recognition of Texas Tech University O&M program by Division Nine.
1986 Fourth International Mobility Conference (IMC‐4), Jerusalem, Israel.
1986 Electronic Travel Aids: New Directions for Research published by National Research Council, Committee on Vision, Working Groups on Mobility Aids.
1986 Peggy Madera and Judy Davidhizer-Homes receive the First Citation for Excellence Award for outstanding O&M direct services presented by Division Nine, Chicago.
1986 Approved, revised Bylaws for Division Nine establishes seven Regional Directors and a Professional Issues Committee.
1986 Walter G. Olenek received Blaha Award, Chicago.
1986 "Provisional" O&M certification changed to "Initial Professional."
1986 Centralized processing through AER central office of O&M certification applications.
1986 Initiation of the "biannual review" of existing university preparation programs.
1986–88 Jim Newcomer serves as chairperson of AER Division Nine.
1987 AFB sponsors The Visually Impaired Traveler in Mass Transit: Issues in O&M Conference, Washington, DC.
1987 Certification Appeals Process approved by the AER International Board.
1987 M. Kronick provides early discussion of alternative mobility devices (AMD) in The "Wheel" Cane , published in Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness.
1988 The O&M Archives officially opened, Maryland School for the Blind, Baltimore, Maryland.
1988 "Mobility Assistant" Division Nine position paper supported by majority via the first mail ballot.
1988 Richard Welsh received Blaha Award, Montreal, Canada.
1988 Joan Levy received the Citation for Excellence Award, Montreal.
1988–90 E. (Butch) Hill serves as chairperson of AER Division Nine.
1989 Fifth International Mobility Conference (IMC‐5), Veldhoven, The Netherlands.
1989 The Profession of Orientation and Mobility in the 1980s by M. Uslan, E. Hill, and A. Peck, published by AFB.
1989 Sonic Pathfinder evolved out of the work of Tony Heyes at the Blind Mobility Research Unit at Nottingham University, England.
1990 Recognition of Northern Illinois University O&M program by Division Nine.
1990 Preschool Orientation and Mobility Screening by B. Dodson-Burk and E. Hill published by Division Nine.
1990 Hugo Vigorosa receives Blaha Award, Washington, DC.
1990 Judy Hayes receives the Citation for Excellence Award, Washington, DC.
1990 Approval of the revision of Division Nine Bylaws establishing the University Review, Research and Publication Review, International, Code of Ethics, Archives, and Continuing Education as standing committees. Election of officers will be by mail ballot.
1990 Position paper on "University Trained Mobility Specialists."
1990 Division Nine recommended that individuals who possess a bachelor's or master's degree in a related field of study can become eligible for AER O&M certification by completing all O&M core curricula at the same AER-approved O&M university preparation program. Requirements for individuals who possess a bachelor's or master's degree in a field not related to vision study were also approved. (Approved by the AER Board of Directors in 1992.)
1990–92 Bruce Blasch serves as chairperson of AER Division Nine.
1990 Code of Ethics Enforcement Process approved by the AER International Board.
1990 Access to Mass Transit , edited by M. Uslan, A. Peck, W. Wiener, & A. Stern, published by AFB.
1991 Recognition of University of Texas at Austin O&M program by Division Nine.
1991 Regional Trainers Workshop of Orientation and Mobility Assistants at Western Michigan University.
1991 AER Board approved certification programs for Trainer/Supervisors of OMAs and Orientation and Mobility Assistants.
1991 Recognition of Massey University in New Zealand O&M program by Division Nine. First international O&M program recognized by AER.
1991 Sixth International Mobility Conference (IMC‐6), Madrid, Spain
1992 Development of a computer model of cane techniques (RoboCane®) by Bruce B. Blasch and William De l'Aune.
1992 Recognition of Michigan State University O&M program by Division Nine.
1992 Recognition of Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO) O&M program by Division Nine.
1992 Division Nine recommends a revision to the professional activity requirement for AER certification renewal. This revision is comparable with other professional certification renewal activities.
1992 Butch Hill receives Blaha Award, Los Angeles, California.
1992 Darick Wright and Bonnie Dodson-Burk receive Citation of Excellence Award, Los Angeles.
1992 Establishment of the Newcomer Hill Service Award. This award is to be presented at each international AER Conference by the Chair of Division Nine to recognize major contributions made to Division Nine during the previous 2 years. First recipient Susan S. Simmons, Los Angeles.
1992–94 William Jacobson serves as chairperson of AER Division Nine.
1992 Recognition of University of Arizona O&M program by Division Nine.
1992 Central-Eastern O&M Association (COMA) first meeting.
1993 AER Board of Directors votes to remove the requirement of a physical examination or a completed physician's statement from O&M renewable professional certification.
1994 Seventh International Mobility Conference (IMC‐7), Melbourne, Australia.
1994 Berdell H. "Pete" Wurzburger receives Blaha Award, Dallas, Texas.
1994 Colleen Calhoon and Carol Otten receive Citation for Excellence Award, Dallas.
1994 Sandy Kronick Distinguished Service Award received posthumously, Dallas.
1994 Dona Sauerburger receives the Newcomer-Hill Service Award, Dallas.
1994–96 Dennis Lolli chairperson of AER Division Nine.
1996 Eighth International Mobility Conference (IMC‐8), Trondheim, Norway.
1996 International Mobility Conference establishes the Suteiko-Cory Award.
1996 The Professional Standard for the Practice of O&M and the University Orientation and Mobility Competency Form approved by AER Division Nine.
1996 William Wiener receives Blaha Award, St. Louis, Missouri.
1996 Sharon O'Mara Maida receives Citation of Excellence Award, St. Louis.
1996 Kathleen Newman receives Sandy Kronick Distinguished Service Award, St. Louis.
1996 William Wiener and Elga Joffee receive Newcomer-Hill Service Award, St. Louis.
1996–98 Eileen Siffermann serves as chairperson of AER Division Nine.
1996 Mohawk College, Ontario, Canada, recognized as an approved O&M program.
1996 Appointment of an ad hoc AER Division Nine committee to develop a national certification examination in O&M.
1997 Second edition of Foundations of Orientation and Mobility , edited by B. Blasch, W. Wiener, and R. Welsh, published by AFB Press.
1998 Ninth International Mobility Conference (IMC‐9), Atlanta.

* Source: Reprinted from W. R. Wiener & E. Siffermann, "The Development of the Profession of Orientation and Mobility," in B. Blasch, W. R. Wiener, R. L. Welsh, Eds., Foundations of Orientation and Mobility (2nd ed.) (New York: AFB, 1997), pp. 570–579.

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