Tuesday Workshops

Workshop 1.1

Optical sensors for the mobility of blind people, possibilities and limits, a 25 years experience report.

René F1, José V1, Roger L1, Jordan L1, Aziz Z

1University Paris Saclay, Université paris Sud, CNRS

We develop electronic white canes with optical sensors for blind people since 1991 and we got our first everyday life efficient users in 1999. The number of users of our devices in France is now the same as the guide dog users. Half of the guide dog schools in France propose the choice between Guide dog and electronic cane to the blind people.

On a technological point of view we use laser and infrared light as far as we consider that ultrasonic waves are not efficient enough for that purpose (lack of detection of tilted planes, lack of detection of small paths with anticipation in crowded environment, difficulties of use under rain etc.).

In this workshop we will present the two actual devices Minitact (for exclusive indoor use) and Tom Pouce 3 (for outdoor and indoor) produced by our partner VISIOPTRONIC. We will explain the prerequisite for the use of the device, the training program, the detection possibilities and limits. Participants will be invited to do the first step of the evaluation and demonstration process we do for every blind person that asked for a device. We will explain how to use it in urban environment, crowded indoors, very large placed etc. The difficulties of adaptation of certain persons for these devices will be too detailed: conflicts with the spatial representation, lack of mobility needs, additional impairment etc.


Workshop 1.2

AIRA – A New Wayfinding and Information Technology

Rosen S1

1San Francisco State University

Orientation & Mobility (O&M) has been shown to be a major factor in the ability of people who are blind or visually impaired to participate fully in society and even to secure employment. Many people, however, find travel in unfamiliar environments uncomfortable and even intimidating due to concerns about becoming disoriented.

This workshop presents a novel wayfinding and information platform for people who have visual impairments. It also provides workshop participants with hands-on experience using the system in indoor and outdoor environments. Aira uses an interactive, cloud-based platform. Users, wearing smart glasses such as Google Glass (which can be fit with a user’s prescription, or worn as a fit-over), are connected for assistance to a certified remote Aira agent within 5 seconds after pressing a button on their glasses. These glasses allow agents to see exactly what the blind user would see. Simultaneously, the system processes live data streams from cameras, the internet and GPS, enabling agents — who are trained in O&M terminology and principles — to provide meaningful orientation to travelers in a myriad of situations. This makes Aira a truly personalized, one-stop approach.

Aira’s sophisticated platform provides environmental information that is O&M relevant for independent travel while assisting users in performing a wide range of daily activities — from navigating city streets and catching a bus or plane, to shopping, recognizing faces in a crowd, and literally traveling the world.

Workshop 1.3

Environmental and Task Assessments for Individuals and Clients with Low Vision.

Panikkar R1

1Arizona State Schools For The Deaf And Blind

This workshop presents an Environmental and Task Assessment for Individuals Identified with Low Vision. These assessments will assist the practitioner in working with their clients to determine the environment for safe and efficient negotiation. Checklists and samples will be shared that are currently used for best practice to complete Environmental and Task Assessments.

In this workshop, participants will:

–          gain knowledge to determine environmental and task characteristics for an individual with low vision.

–          gain knowledge to determine the impact the environment and task has on an individual with low vision.

–          gain knowledge about tools for gathering information from multi-disciplinary team members to assist with planning assessment strategies for an individual with low vision.

–          understand ways to utilize the information gathered from the multi-disciplinary team to build an assessment plan.

–          understand how to conduct and complete an Environmental and Task Assessment utilizing the support of other team members.

–          be able to generate a report from findings and data collection.

Discussions will take place to allow a better understanding environmental and task assessments for individuals identified with low vision.

These assessments will enable the individual to utilize environmental factors to complete daily tasks and guide Team members in providing services for individuals identified with low vision.


Workshop 1.4

“When in ROAM” (Remote Orientation and Mobility): Exploring new frontiers in video conferencing techniques to expand the delivery of O&M services to clients in regional and remote Western Australia.

Barrett-Lennard A1


Western Australia covers a geographical area of 2,529,875km2, almost ten times the size of the United Kingdom. Over half a million West Australians live in regional areas, presenting significant challenges for the equitable delivery of O&M services. VisAbility embarked on the ROAM (Remote Orientation & Mobility) Project as a three month pilot in early 2015. The project explored a range of technology and remote service delivery methods to establish best practice guidelines for providing O&M services via video conferencing. VisAbility is currently halfway through a subsequent two year pilot project, due for completion in August 2017.

The ROAM Project pilots have been effective in delivering O&M services remotely, fostering independence for our regional clients by overcoming the barriers of distance. Various techniques and technologies have been trialed and fine-tuned to establish best practice guidelines. The ROAM Project has significantly increased access to and regularity of O&M services for West Australians.

This workshop will present current data and findings from the two year ROAM pilot project. Workshop participants will have the opportunity to trial equipment used within a ROAM session, and participate in mock ROAM sessions under blindfold or simulation.


Workshop 1.5

Geocaching, Let’s go for a Walk, Mobility, Maps, Treasures and Adventures

Robertson M1

1Mass. Commission For The Blind

Geocaching is a worldwide fun outdoor activity. This workshop will provide a practical, hands-on introduction to using Geocaching tools for O&M for families, students and adults with visual impairment and blindness. Individuals with blindness have limited opportunities to get outdoors. Geocaching is an outdoor activity which families can all participate and have fun while taking a walk around a neighborhood or one’s community. The workshop will have a quick review of what Geocaching is, how to place or find a cache and different O&M applications. At the end of the workshop, we will plan to find a cache nearby. Learn about muggles, travel bugs and adventures around your communities.


Workshop 1.6

An ‘artificial’ view and man’s best friend working together – an ‘artificial’ vision system and a guide dog working in partnership

Fisher A1, Muldoon C1

1Second Sight

The Argus II electronic retinal prosthetic system is the world’s first FDA approved and CE marked ‘artificial’ vision system in the world. To date, over 200 people worldwide, who have retinitis pigmentosa (RP) and are functionally blind, have been implanted and fitted with the Argus II system. The Argus II system provides ‘artificial’ vision through the provision of light, shape and form feedback – which enables people to visually identify light sources, such as windows and electric lights, detect outdoor objects, and determine changes in contrasting surfaces such as paths and grass verges. Many people that have had the Argus II system fitted are very capable ‘blind’ people, and are independently mobile using a white cane, and some people are also guide dog owners.

Second Sight have recently produced a good practice guide for Orientation and Mobility (O + M) Specialists throughout Europe, working with people who have had the Argus System implanted. The purpose of this guide is to integrate the Argus II system and O + M long cane skills and principles, into a workable mobility process to support the cane users overall mobility functioning and performance.

This practical workshop will demonstrate a range of skills, to show how an ‘artificial’ vision system can work successfully with a guide dog to enable the guide dog owner to use a new level of functional vision to access all environments and travel routes efficiently and independently.


Workshop 1.7

Moving together – a team approach to advancing mobility skills with children with complex needs

Darby A1, Heffernan K1, Neill G1

1Childvision National Education Centre For Blind Children

This workshop will be presented by two Occupational Therapists along with an Orientation & Mobility Specialist.

Acquiring competence in O&M requires that a child has attained many underlying skills. For example if a child doesn’t understand their own body how will they know how to move their body effectively and safely in space? When a child has many or complex needs, it is often a challenge to support their learning of these new skills.

This workshop will be an experiential journey. The aim will be to help participants experience and understand what it might be like to have additional needs through practical activities. We will explore areas such as sensory processing, behavioural and physical difficulties.

After analysing how additional needs might affect the learning of O&M skills, we will then engage in group brainstorming and problem solving to explore creative strategies that can be used to enhance the learning process.

We welcome any examples of challenges you may have faced in your practice in order to make this workshop an interactive and practice development opportunity.

Workshop 1.8

The New Open Access Tools Available for All O&M Specialists

Anderson D1

1Western Michigan University

This workshop will unveil the standard protocols for administration of the New Birth to Six Orientation and Mobility Skills Inventory and plans for app development so that the inventories can be accessed on handheld devices.

Access to the inventory will be provided, a learning lab process will be used to introduce it, demonstrate scoring and the calculation of the inventory results. Examples of using inventory results to gather data, report progress of student performance and as an O&M assessment will be shared.

Website information will be provided to all participants that will provide access to each of the O&M Skills Inventories. These tools you will provide you with what you need to assess O&M skills for students of all ages from birth through adulthood.

Join us for this important workshop and learn how to use the O&M Skills Inventory to document understanding and skills demonstrated by your O&M students.


Workshop 1.9

Collaborating together to provide mobility services to wheelchair users who are visually impaired

Best M; Henshaws, Harrogate, Stanway L1

1 Guide Dogs UK

In 2009, Alan Brooks set up a UK training programme for guide dogs working with visually impaired people in a wheelchair. By the end of 2016, there were 14 people with specially trained dogs, which also provide support with tasks such as retrieving dropped items, opening and closing doors and helping with dressing and undressing.

Guide Dogs looked for help to develop the training programme and began collaborating with Henshaws, a UK based organisation with a long history of providing services to people who are visually impaired with more complex needs including wheelchair users. The result has been a Specialised Wheelchair Mobility Practitioners Programme. This programme won an award in 2015 from the UK Vision 2020 Committee in recognition of the quality of training and the difference it has made to a growing number of people unable to get out independently.

The workshop will explain how the collaboration began, what the training programme included and how it has equipped Guide Dog staff with the essential skills to better understand the needs of people with a physical disability in addition to their sight loss.

The workshop will also explore the difference that the training has made to the people who now have a guide dog and have received mobility training to help them on their individual journey. It will provide feedback from staff who have benefited from the on-going collaboration between Guide Dogs and Henshaws.

In line with the theme of the conference, the workshop will show the transition from the early success in 2009 to the current programme and show how some of the barriers and challenges to success have been met and overcome. Above all it will show the transition for the people who have trained in relation to their independence, confidence and sense of wellbeing as a result of becoming more independent.

Workshop 1.10

Cane Repair and Construction

Stirnweis S1

1Washington Elementary School District

As practitioners we all have a cupboard or closet with damaged canes and cane parts that we do not throw away but do not know what to do with. This workshop will show you how to make simple repairs and construct new canes out of old parts. Participants will learn to do the following:

–          replace reflective tape (and learn about sources of attainment)

–          retrieve the elastic from the inside of the cane

–          interchange slip-on and insert style tips

–          Take a cane apart and replace the elastic

–          Identify good and bad cane parts for construction of new cane

–          construct canes from various parts

–          create a basic cane repair toolkit

Participants will be encouraged to share and methods that they use for any of the above as well.

Cane parts and other cane building materials will be provided but participants are encouraged to bring a broken cane or two for to work on during the workshop.



Wednesday Workshops

Workshop 2.1

Geocaching with and for visually impaired children and adults

Doorn M1

1Bartiméus Education Centre

Orientation is knowing where you are, and to reach that place you need to navigate. This makes navigation one of the most important aspects of our training.

Geocaching is a navigation game where you search with a GPS for treasures hidden by other players. A game based on O&M, therefore suitable for people with visual impairments. Geocaching was introduced at IMC15 in Montreal, in the two years since then we have used it with our students. We developed a curriculum of 6 lessons and provided lessons for a period of 10 months.

In this workshop we will describe the contents of the 6 lessons and our evaluation of the curriculum reaching the conclusion that Geocaching can be an activity for people with visual impairments. It will give an overview of the findings of the evaluation.

Despite some limitations the majority of my (blind) pupils are having fun with this game which gives them a good insight into the use of GPS and navigation in general. This presentation will be followed by a practical experience in the centre of Dublin.


Workshop 2.2

Improving Orientation with at Tactile Navigation Belt

Wache S1, Kärcher S1, König P1, Wache J1

1University of Osnabrück, feelSpace Gmbh

Commonly used navigational aids used by blind travellers during large-scale navigation divert attention away from important cues of the immediate environment (i.e., approaching vehicles). Sensory augmentation devices, relying on principles similar to those at work in sensory substitution, can potentially bypass the bottleneck of attention through sub-cognitive implementation of a set of rules coupling motor actions with sensory stimulation. We present here a study with a tactile compass belt as a sensory augmentation device.

The workshop will present the results of our study and explain how the results can be used to improve everyday mobility and orientation of blind and visually impaired people through usage of tactile belts. We will show how the complementary information provided by the belt lead to a positive emotional impact with enhanced feeling of security. The present experimental approach demonstrates the positive potential of sensory augmentation devices for the help of handicapped people.


Workshop 2.3

How Can Bluetooth Beacons Be Used As A Helping Hand Or An Aid In Mobility?

Haldbaek G1, Christensen B1

1The National Institute for the Blind and Partially Sighted (IBOS)

In this workshop, participants will learn about and get to test out the Blinfo app which utilises Bluetooth beacon technology.

Blinfo is a simple and free iPhone app and a Content Management System (CMS). Together with iBeacon technology, Blinfo makes it easy to automatically give location specific information to people with visual impairment in and around buildings. Location specific information makes buildings more accessible for visually impaired people. It works perfectly with the VoiceOver, which automatically reads out load the messages you as a building owner have created. Blinfo is developed by Living IT Lab (a non-profit organisation).

After a brief oral presentation of the system and the background, the participants will have the opportunity to try the Blinfo app/system in and around the campus to see how people with visual impairment can benefit from the Blinfo system. We will, in advance, have prepared a short route with Blinfo beacons. The participants will get the opportunity to create information via the CMS.


Workshop 2.4

The ‘guide-dog’ lost his legs; DogSim new version

Lasaroms P1, Damm H2

1P.C. Lasaroms vof, 2Fondation VISIO

DogSim has been used for training for several years in Guide Dog Schools all over the world. It has proved to be an effective tool but could be improved to be lighter in use, cheaper and easier to handle for both instructor and client. The need for these improvements has led to a new training aid: DogSim NV (New Version).

The DogSim NV is a revolutionary tool to train blind and vision impaired people and be used in O&M training with both children and adults.

In this workshop you will:

–          Learn more about the conception of the first and the new simulator

–          See, touch and try it in pairs under the qualified supervision of his inventor

–          Discuss your experience and share it with the whole group.

This workshop is for everyone: mobility specialists, guide dog instructors and everyone interested in modern training tools.


Workshop 2.5

They call me an Expert but I don’t feel like an Expert! How to become the Expert you really are!

Robertson M1

1Mass. Commission For The Blind

As Vision Rehab Professionals we are really the experts who work with individuals who have a vision loss or legal blindness. However, many of us do not feel we are the experts and feel uncomfortable in this role. This workshop will review why we are the experts, how we as a field can better advocate for our field and the needs of the individuals we work with and empower our consumers.

Although this presentation is geared towards O&M Specialists, this workshop can allow all Vision and Blind professionals to learn about resources and how to be able to comfortably collaborate with other professionals.


Workshop 2.6

How to Measure Functional Vision and O&M Outcomes – The VROOM and OMO Tools

Deverell L1,2

1Guide Dogs Victoria, 2Swinburne University of Technology

Measuring functional vision and O&M outcomes is problematic. There is a clinical/functional divide with contending rhetoric, different indicators of robust inquiry and antithetical approaches to knowledge. The notion of measurement is founded on standardization, but the goals of person-centred O&M practice vary from one person to the next.

This workshop will identify the defining characteristics of a functional paradigm and present new models of functional vision and O&M that were derived from the lived experience of adults with advanced retinitis pigmentosa (n=43) using grounded theory methodology. It will then explain how the VROOM and OMO tools standardize professional observations, data records and reporting, without standardizing tasks and venues or compromising O&M clients’ freedom of mind and movement.

In this workshop, participants will pair up, wear low vision simulators and test the VROOM and OMO tools in a simulated O&M assessment session. Participants will then return to debrief, interpret the measurement data and critique the tools.


Workshop 2.7

Orientation and Mobility for Visually Impaired Wheelchair Users

Crawford J1, Crawford P2

1Affiliated Blind Of Louisiana, 2Michigan State University

This focus of this workshop will be to demonstrate strategies for teaching people with visual impairments to use wheelchairs. Topics will include monitoring safety, emergency stopping, using the long white cane in conjunction with the wheelchair, strategies for navigating tight spaces and navigating doorways.

Workshop 2.8

Licence to Move

Behan B1

1Access All Arts, 2NCBI

Can participation in Dance / Movement / Drama support blind and visually impaired people in their mobility and orientation training?

This workshop will explore the use of tailored programs in dance, movement and drama as beneficial tools in teaching mobility and orientation skills throughout the life cycle. The methods used draw from a variety of disciplines including: Drama / Dramatherapy / Dance / Movement / Laban Community Dance combined with Mobility and Orientation Training.

Participants will gain knowledge on how participation in creative activities are potentially beneficial to blind and visually impaired people, increasing confidence and motivation to attain greater independence in travel and social life.


Workshop 2.9

From Mobility to Inclusion: the role and impact of Universal Design for Learning

Bruce A

The significant barriers experienced by people with disabilities in all countries result from many factors. These range from inherited prejudice, legacies of stigma, discrimination, institutionalisation and the physical design of buildings, equipment and structures. Perhaps the strongest barrier is the one of negative attitude. This produces significant blockages to participation at all levels from employment to social Interaction, from transport to education or training.

Over the last five decades these barriers and the attitudes behind them have been tackled by a significant movement called Universal Design (UD). Originating in ergonomics and architecture, UD has taken a fresh and innovative approach to removing obstacles and barriers by considering the maximum application of access to all people, of all ages in all environments. This Workshop will look at the origins, principles and methods of UD and how issues around disability have profoundly shaped the movement and discourse. The Workshop will then consider the second phase of UD, which started in 1985, through its application to education and training: Universal Design for Learning. UDL challenges traditional forms of education and schooling and has already opened vast new areas of personal learning and competence development to new categories of people.

The Workshop will be highly interactive and will give examples of learning, best practice, standards and international networking.

Register Now

Delegate registration for IMC16 is now open.