UNSW and Guide Dogs NSW/ACT have partnered to offer a new graduate diploma in orientation and mobility. The Graduate Diploma of Orientation and Mobility will be delivered from Term 2, 2021 with intakes across all terms.
The course will be undertaken online and supplemented by face-to-face practical requirements and Work Integrated Learning (WIL) to enable students to acquire skills in context. The WIL component can be arranged locally through appropriate agencies to ensure the course is available throughout Australia and Australasia.
Role of Orientation and Mobility Specialists
Orientation and mobility specialists are trained in providing individualised programs for people with blindness or low vision, so they have the skills to move around their home or local area independently. This includes everything from wayfinding and using mobility aids like white canes and other forms of technology, to catching public transport – with the training designed to build confidence, and independence in both familiar and new environments.
The proposed graduate diploma… aligns with the School’s mission statement of ‘advancing vision and eye health in society through world-class, innovative, multi-disciplinary education and research
Practitioners work with both children and adults who have long-term low-vision or blindness as well as those experiencing recent changes in their vision. Beyond being an important skill to develop for the entire low vision and blindness community, orientation and mobility skills are also an important foundation for people looking to work with a Guide Dog in the future as their primary mobility aid.
Ryan Jones, Orientation and Mobility Specialist at Guide Dogs NSW/ACT, said there are many rewards for this work.
“The joy of a career in orientation and mobility is working with clients to understand what their life could look like with greater independence and freedom, then working with them to make that a reality,” he said.
“We’re likely to need more support in this field in years to come, which is why we’ve partnered with UNSW to make it a more accessible career path. For those looking at a career change, perhaps to something more fulfilling, it’s a great option. It’s incredibly rewarding to work with someone to regain their confidence to access their community.”
The profession has applications across the disability, health and education sectors with highly transferable skills that can be applied to other roles in the vision rehabilitation/habilitation sector.
Dale Cleaver, CEO of Guide Dogs NSW/ACT also predicts an ongoing need for orientation and mobility specialists in the future.
“Guide Dogs NSW/ACT’s orientation and mobility experts support more than 4,000 clients annually across the state. With an ageing population, there will be a constant need for employees with these specialist skills,” he said.
“This partnership with the UNSW School of Optometry and Vision Science is an important step in building strength in the ophthalmic industry and across the vision and eye health sector, which will be imperative in providing people the services they need.”
Associate Professor Sieu Khuu, Deputy Head of School at UNSW Optometry and Vision Science said, “At the School of Optometry and Vision Science, UNSW we are committed to forming partnerships with the ophthalmic industry and across the vision and eye-health care sector and are very excited to be partnering with Guide Dogs NSW/ACT to create this new Diploma in Orientation and Mobility. The proposed graduate diploma is complementary to our existing educational programmes and aligns with the School’s mission statement of ‘advancing vision and eye health in society through world-class, innovative, multi-disciplinary education and research’.”
At present, there are no other openly available qualifications on offer in Australia that specifically address this unique profession, and have not required a prior employment placement.
Applications for the Graduate Diploma of Orientation and Mobility open in early 2021. For more information or to discuss your specific pathway into this postgraduate course, visit www.unsw.edu.au or contact UNSW on (AUS) 1300 864 679.