Although instruction in orientation and mobility skills is an essential component of the educational experience of students with visual impairments, little is known about the provision of these services in public secondary schools nationally. What percentage of secondary school special education students who are classified as visually impaired receive orientation and mobility services as part of their school program?1 Does the receipt of such services vary with instructional setting? How well do youth classified as visually impaired perform on specific orientation and mobility tasks? Does the level of orientation and mobility skill vary with the presence of coexisting disabilities, level of severity of visual impairment, or demographic characteristics?
These questions are addressed by using data from the National Longitudinal Transition Study-2 (NLTS2) Student's School Program Survey, conducted in 20022. At that time, students were 14 through 18 years old and were attending secondary schools in grades 7 through 12 or were in ungraded classrooms. School personnel who were most familiar with students' school programs3 completed self-administered questionnaires about the students' characteristics, school programs, services, and performance. Data to identify the presence of a coexisting disability were taken from a list of disabilities indicated by school personnel in response to the request to "mark all of this student's disabilities." Additionally, if the student had a visual impairment, school personnel were asked o rate the student's orientation and mobility skills.
Basic demographic data and data to distinguish the level of students' severity of visual impairment are drawn from information provided by the students' parents or guardians during the NLTS2 parent telephone interview conducted in 2001, when students were 13 through 17 years old. During a telephone interview, respondents provided information about students' individual and household characteristics. Regarding disability characteristics, respondents were asked "With what physical, sensory, learning or other disabilities or problems has [the youth] been diagnosed?" Response options related to visual impairment were "blind" and "partially sighted."
The phrase "students with visual impairments" used in this report includes only students with visual impairment as their primary disability category, as reported to NLTS2 by the school district or special school and designated according to the criteria specified by each state. The primary disability classification is central to the statistical weighting methods used in NLTS2, and including students in this report who had visual impairments but were assigned to other primary disability categories would have obscured the population to which the findings generalize. Thus, this report does not include students who had visual impairments but received special education services under other IDEA disability categories (i.e., for whom visual impairment was not the primary disability) or who did not receive special education services at all.