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National Center for Special Education Research


Facts From NLTS2: Orientation and Mobility Skills of Secondary School Students With Visual Impairments
NCSER 2008-3007
November 2007

Summary

NLTS2 provides a national picture of the extent to which orientation and mobility services are provided to students in the category of visual impairment who receive special education services from or through public school districts or state-operated special schools during the secondary school years. Most of these students attend regular public schools (81 percent), and a minority attend special schools (19 percent). Across both settings, 54 percent receive orientation and mobility services. However, significantly fewer students with visual impairments who attend regular public schools receive orientation and mobility services than do those who attend special schools.

No statistically significant differences are noted in the receipt of orientation and mobility services for students who differ in having coexisting disabilities or in their gender, age, grade level, race/ethnicity, or household income. However, students who were blind are more likely than students who are partially sighted to receive orientation and mobility services (77 percent vs. 48 percent, respectively).

The overall percentages of students with visual impairments who are reported to perform "very well" the 10 functional mobility skills investigated in NLTS2 range across skills from 46 percent to 82 percent. On the majority of skills, students with visual impairments and no other disabilities significantly outperform students with coexisting disabilities; the differences between the two groups range from 40 to 50 percentage points. Exceptions are traveling with a sighted guide to familiar locations and traveling indoors using rotely learned routes, which do not differ significantly between the two groups. Similarly, students who are partially sighted significantly outperform their peers who are blind on all tasks except travel with a sighted guide to familiar locations (differences range from 23 to 41 percentage points).

Finally, no statistically significant differences are found in the performance of individual orientation and mobility skills for students with visual impairments who differ in demographic characteristics, with one exception. Performance in soliciting help is significantly higher for students from higherincome households (incomes more than $50,000), with 84 percent performing "very well" as compared with 47 to 56 percent for the middle and lower income groups.