2023 Donald Blasch Scholarship
The Orientation and Mobility (O&M) Division of AER is now accepting applications for the 2023 Donald Blasch Scholarship through March 10th, 2023.
AER’s O&M Division presents an annual scholarship competition for students enrolled in an AER-approved O&M program. The scholarship recognizes the vital contributions of the late Donald Blasch to the profession of O&M during his long tenure at Western Michigan University.
Individuals selected for the scholarship receive an unrestricted award of $1,000.00. Two scholarships are awarded each year (depending on the availability of funds).
The deadline for receiving applications for the Blasch Scholarship is March 10th, 2023.
All O&M students enrolled in AER-accredited programs are encouraged to apply.
Please click here to access the 2023 Scholarship Application. For questions, contact Margaret Winn, Chair of the Blasch Scholarship Committee. BlaschScholarship@gmail.com
With nearly 1,000 members in Orientation & Mobility Division, we are the largest and most comprehensive professional organization for Orientation and Mobility (O&M) specialists in the world.
Our purpose is to encourage and promote professional standards and improvement of O&M practices and services by:
• Offering professional development opportunities;
• Encouraging quality university preparation of O&M specialists, and
• Working to improve and expand O&M services for individuals with visual impairments.
O&M Scope of Practice
A scope of practice paper was developed to more clearly define what we do as professionals. This document was shared to solicit feedback and then the final document was approved by a 97% vote from division members. Please click here to review this document.
What is an Orientation and Mobility Specialist?
O&M specialists teach people who are blind or visually impaired the skills and concepts they need in order to travel independently and safely – in the home and classroom, and in the community and city. O&M specialists provide services across the life span — they teach children who are visually impaired in school programs and adults in rehabilitation settings. READ MORE.
The profession of O&M formally developed during and immediately after World War II, when soldiers who had been blinded in battle were taught how to travel independently. Since that time, the profession developed to serve children, people with low vision, elderly people, deaf-blind people, and visually impaired people with multiple disabilities. Read about O&M: The Living History.
O&M specialists are trained at university and college programs. Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialists (COMS) meet professional standards developed by the Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals.
The revised O&M division strategic plan was approved by the membership in November 2022. Updates will be provided to the membership through division newsletters, virtual meetings, and a presentation at the AER international conference in 2024.
Past Chairs in St. Louis
Past and current chairs of the AER Orientation & Mobility Division are pictured at the 2022 AER International Conference in St. Louis, Missouri.
Division Chair Raychel Callary hands the microphone to Eileen Siffermann during the O&M Division business meeting at the 2022 AER International Conference in St. Louis, Missouri.
AER International Orientation and Mobility Conference 2017
Thank you to attendees, presenters, organizers and volunteers who made the conference a wonderful success.
Justin Kaiser, AER O&M Division Chair, at the podium welcoming attendees to the AER International Orientation & Mobility Conference & Meeting 2017 on July 19 in Pittsburgh, with Lou Tutt, AER Executive Director, and Susan Langendonk, Conference Program Committee Chair.