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How to stimulate the orientation of people with blindness? 5 keys

How to stimulate the orientation of people with blindness? 5 keys

May 23, 2024

Orientation and mobility are fundamental skills for the development of autonomy, which are particularly relevant in the case of people who have blindness or reduced vision . Among other things, these skills facilitate the use of the cane and other important technologies for displacement, as well as strengthening awareness and recognition of oneself in relation to the environment.

In this article we explain in what way can we encourage orientation and mobility in people with blindness and what is the relevance of these functions in psychomotor development.

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Orientation and Mobility

Orientation and mobility are two psychomotor processes of fundamental importance for our development and autonomy. Being psychomotor processes include elements of two distinct, but interrelated orders: elements of the psychological order, and elements of the motor order .


The first are those that are related to the processes necessary to execute actions, to perceive and interpret the phenomena of the world, to plan actions, make decisions, and so on. The second are those that have to do with the motor system, that is, with our voluntary and involuntary movements, our balance, our position, our extremities, among others.

Both orders are linked through the participation of our senses : touch, smell, taste, hatred and vision. Thus, according to the functioning of the latter, our psychomotricity can work in one way or another. Both psychomotricity, orientation and mobility are processes that are related to our body consciousness. Orientation is the process by which we use our senses to establish a position and a relationship with the objects of the world. And mobility is the ability to move between these objects.


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Sensory scheme, orientation and mobility

As we have seen, the participation of the senses is fundamental for the development of orientation and mobility, and in the case of the total or partial absence of vision, its stimulation (that of the senses) becomes even more important. Likewise and as fundamental skills for the development of autonomy, the development of orientation and mobility are especially relevant in the case of people with blindness or visual weakness. In fact, these are two of the skills that are an important part of training for the use of the cane and other support technologies.

Beyond being the fundamental acts to move from one place to another, orientation and mobility they give us the possibility to organize and familiarize ourselves with the world through physical contact, knowing where we are and where we are going.


How to stimulate orientation and mobility in people with blindness?

The stimulation of the orientation and mobility of people with blindness depends on many factors that may be different according to the needs and circumstances of each person. For example, the process may be different between an adult who has acquired blindness and a child who has been born with blindness.

In the latter, orientation and mobility can be pre-stimulated through gross and fine motor skills, as well as through the acquisition of different concepts. This is because until 2 - 3 years old the child will be ready to begin the process of displacement. In the case of adults, the process may not require motor pre-stimulation, but it does a restructuring of the perception of space in relation to one's own body .

Likewise, blindness in many cases is not presented totally, but partially, or with a reduced vision, and in these cases, the strategies for stimulation may also be different.

In any case, it is not only about skills and processes, but orientation and mobility are two needs that the person himself develops by himself, through physical contact with the elements of the exterior . In this sense, the professionals or relatives that we intend to facilitate the process of autonomy must be aware and remain respectful to the rhythms of each person, as well as be flexible in the face of the individual need to explore and locate themselves bodily.

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5 strategies

Broadly speaking, some dimensions that we can stimulate to favor the orientation and mobility of people with blindness are the body outline, the concepts related to space and time, the concepts related to the environment or the city, fine motor skills and thick, and sensory perception.

All of them are part of the psychomotricity, are related to each other and have the common characteristic that allow us to relate our body to the material and semiotic elements that surround it and place it in a certain position.

1. Body outline

The body scheme is the representation that we build and acquire on our own body. It refers both to the parts of itself, and to its functions and movements. It includes the personal exploration of the body, and its relationship with external elements.

It also involves a social element, since the acquisition of the corporal scheme occurs in correspondence with the social norms that tell us how it is and what the parts of the body are, and that allow us to establish different relationships with ourselves. And also with external objects, because they allow us to engage in spatial relationships, identify stimuli that we recognize are not part of ourselves .

2. Spatial and temporal concepts

The spatial concepts are what allow us to establish relationship and position schemes. They make reference to the surfaces and the terms with which we can refer to these. They also relate to notions such as magnitude, distance, size, quantity, weight or volume ; and with concepts like left-right, up-down, recognize one side or the other.

We know that there is a development of spatial concepts such as position categories, forms and measures when the person has established an idea of ​​reference point and systematic search models through hands. This usually occurs from 2 or 3 years of age, and can be stimulated later.

In the same sense, the notions like yesterday, today, tomorrow, day, night favor among other things the spatio-temporal appropriation of the environment and the location of one's own body in this .

3. Environmental / urban concepts

Spatial concepts are basically the names of the objects that surround us. Above all it is important reinforce the recognition of the objects that are used more frequently . They also include concepts related to what exists in the immediate environment. For example, the elements of the environment, such as the floor, the room, the corridor, the traffic light, the cars, and so on.

It is about identifying salient elements of the environment, learning what places exist and where they are, and then establishing routes or sequences that connect all these elements together. Likewise this allows the identification of obstacles and generate avoidance tools (protection techniques).

From there the traveler can identify a path that directs him by a specific path or path, then update their positions with respect to signals on the road and finally use general concepts about space.

4. Thick and fine motor skills

It is about favoring elements such as posture, walking and balance, on the one hand, and other skills related to the manipulation of small objects, which helps in the estimation of distances and coordination. The gross motor and fine motor skills are fundamental for reinforce cognitive processes as well as the perception of one's own body and understand their relationship with external objects on a large scale.

Depending on the age of the person, many different activities can be carried out that favor these skills, and can range from driving a tricycle and skewering small accounts, to doing complex physical activity.

5. Sensory perception

Sensory stimulation is of fundamental importance because it allows us to establish reference points and discriminate between different stimuli in the environment as well as relationships with it. Specifically in the case of hearing, it is important to take into account concepts such as identification, discrimination, monitoring, and detection of "shadow of sound" areas.

In the case of touch it is important the direct experience of the skin in contact with objects , although there may also be intermediate contact (for example, the recognition of a fruit with a fork). The olfactory and gustatory senses can receive stimulation from discrimination and the identification of different stimuli, even the most daily ones.

Bibliographic references:

  • Martínez, C. (2010). Training in Orientation and Mobility: Must be done. Retrieved June 21, 2018. Available at //www.tsbvi.edu/seehear/fall98/waytogo-span.htm.

Bill Gates's Top 10 Rules For Success (@BillGates) (May 2024).


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