Orientation & Mobility Services Program

Pilot Dogs started a two-week, in-residence training course in Orientation and Mobility in 2015. Our comprehensive training course is designed for those individuals who are blind or visually impaired wishing to learn white cane travel, improve upon existing cane and traveling skills, and further their goal of becoming independent. We provide round-trip transportation, room and board, and white cane if needed.

The mission of our Orientation & Mobility Program is to have the student become a safe and efficient traveler. Our Certified Orientation and Mobility Instructors provide sequential instruction to individuals with visual impairment in the use of their remaining senses to determine their position within the environment and in techniques for safe movement from one place to another.

The ability to use one’s remaining senses to understand their location in the environment at any given time.

The capacity of facility of movement, safe and independent travel.

The teaching of the concepts & techniques necessary for a person, with a visual impairment, to travel safely, efficiently & gracefully through any environmental conditions & situations.

During your two-week stay, you will have approximately 4-6 lessons daily. The lessons include human guide technique, upper and lower body protective techniques, squaring off and trailing, white cane techniques, and cardinal directions (north, south, east, and west).

Our lessons also include crossing streets in a residential area with stop signs, semi-business area, downtown area, and training with no sidewalks and for the student to problem solve. We will have the student solicit information in stores, ride public transportation, cross streets with simple and complex light-controlled intersections, and learn about APS (Accessible Pedestrian Signals).

For those individuals with some remaining vision, a sleep shade will be provided during some lessons to increase their non-visual skills.

Many of our Orientation & Mobility graduates have the goal of eventually training with a dog guide. During your stay, you will be included in the dog guide class that can range from 6-12 students. Before you leave, you will have the opportunity to walk with a Pilot Dog.

The Orientation and Mobility Program Experience

Qualified students enrolled the Orientation and Mobility course will spend two weeks in-residence at Pilot Dogs. The course is intended to build confidence in traveling and traveling independently with confidence. Students are requested to bring their white cane and if they do not have one, a white cane will be provided.

The typical day is waking up at 6:00 a.m. and breakfast is at 7:00 a.m. Class starts at 8:00 a.m. There are 2-3 lessons in the morning. Lunch is at 12:00 noon. Class starts again at 1:00 p.m. There are 2-3 lessons in the afternoon.

The training involves human guide technique, upper/lower body protective techniques, cardinal directions, residential area with stop signs, a semi-business area with traffic lights, driveways & parking lots, riding public transportation to downtown Columbus, soliciting information in stores, learning about APS, etc. Before a student completes the program, they will have an opportunity to walk with a Pilot Dog.

Students are asked to bring all personal toiletry items (soap, shampoo, toothpaste, etc.) Linens and towels will be provided. We have a soda machine, snack/candy machine, refrigerator, microwave and coffee in a thermos available. Bottled water may be purchased. Pilot Dogs has an exercise room, laundry room, and your laundry is done weekly by the housekeeping staff. By law, we have a no-smoking policy in the building, however, smoking is allowed in a designated area. All students need to bring enough of their personal medication for the two-week stay. Diabetic students are required to bring their insulin in pre-set or disposable syringes.

A braille writer and CCTV are always available. Mail is always welcome and a telephone is available for calls. Pilot Dogs has Wi-Fi and students are encouraged to bring their laptop computers and/or tablets.

Should you have any further questions regarding this program or would like an application, please contact Steve Hoyt at 614.221.6367 or email shoyt@pilotdogs.org.