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Education Mobility Service

This page is known as: www.birmingham.gov.uk/mobility

Habilitation – or Mobility and Independent living skills for children and young people with a visual impairment

The Education Mobility Service offers free Habilitation or mobility and independence training to blind and partially sighted children and young people across the city. The team comprises four Mobility Officers all of whom are qualified Habilitation Specialists registered with the MISE professional practitioners’ register. Pupils will be assessed; then may be offered individual mobility lessons in school or in their home area and/or independent living skills on a one to one basis or in small groups in our specially designed mobility teaching room. It is difficult to separate mobility and independence skills for children, so the new term Habilitation is used for both.

What is Mobility?

Mobility is the skill to move from one place to another independently. Training enhances this ability by teaching specialist skills and strategies to help children cope with their visual impairment. Each child is individually assessed and identified needs are met through one to one mobility lessons to help them become safe independent travellers both indoors and out.

Great emphasis is placed on safety and work appropriate to the age and ability of each individual child. Pupils will be assessed in school and also in the surrounding area. Mobility sessions will normally take place at school, but mobility officers work throughout the year, including school holidays when home visits can be arranged. Parents will be provided with regular progress reports but are encouraged to be actively involved so they can support their child more effectively.

Topics covered will vary depending on age and ability, but may include:

  • body awareness: understanding body parts and how the body moves;
  • listening skills: how to listen and what to listen for;
  • orientation: knowing where you are and how to get to where you want to be, including long cane training where relevant;
  • maximising vision: making the most use of residual vision and using appropriate low vision aids;
  • basic personal safety: keeping safe and seeking help; and
  • social and life skills: dealing with other, shopping, money and using the telephone.

What are independent living skills?

The Mobility Service aims to prepare blind and partially sighted pupils for safe independent living in the future. By the time pupils leave school, the majority should at least be able to make a simple meal and a drink for themselves. ILS can be delivered on a one to one basis or in small group sessions.

Topics covered will vary depending on age and ability, but may include:

  • social and emotional development; asking for assistance, including contacting the Emergency Service; social conventions, manners; confidence and motivation;
  • independent living skills (ILS) eating skills; personal hygiene; dressing; money handling and Snack Attack, a progressive course in basic food preparation skills; and
  • moving on is offered to older students to prepare for life away from home and includes a range of practical skills from washing and ironing to changing a bulb.

The Mobility Service also offers training to parents and carers to help them support mobility and ILS more effectively. Contact your School or Visiting Teacher (QTVI) for more information or download our leaflet at the foot of this page.