SPVI 368:  Mobility Training for Persons with Visual Impairment


Unit 7:   Navigational and Familiarizational Techniques


Any familiar object, sound, odor, temperature or tactual clue that is unique, easily recognized (identifiable), is constant (fixed), and that has a known, permanent location in the environment.

Landmarks are constant and permanent and have at least one unique characteristic to differentiate it form other objects in the environment.  Landmarks may be recognizable by their visual, tactual, olfactory, kinesthetic, or auditory characteristics or a combination thereof.  Indoor landmarks may include elevators, drinking fountains, rest rooms, bulletin boards, soda and candy machines, and stairwells.

A landmark should be defined from a user's point of view, for the main purpose of a landmark is to identify the location and directional information of a specific environment to specific individual user.  Therefore, an object, for example, a drinking fountain along a wall, is a landmark for John but not necessarily for Jack, if Jack is not aware of the drinking fountain's location in relation to objects in the environments nor can he use it to help himself orient to the environment.

As a result, O&M instructors should identify things could be used as a landmark for a specific student and then teach the student to use the teacher-identified "thing" so that the "thing" would become a landmark for the student.

Another example, a resident of a city when she sees a store front, say MacDonald Restaurant, she would know exactly where she is located in the city. However, for a visitor, the MacDonald Restaurant does not necessarily provide him with location and directional information.  As a result, the MacDonald is a landmark for the resident, but not for the visitor.

Landmark can be used:

Techniques and procedures in sequence for utilizing landmarks:


Hill defines a clue as any auditory (including object perception), olfactory, tactile (including temperature), kinesthetic, or visual (including color, brightness, and contrast) stimulus affect the senses which can be readily converted to give the student information necessary to determine his position or a line of direction.

Jacobson uses cues instead of clues to represent the same concept.  He describes cues as "some environmental objects or situation, such as the sound of a typewriter or other equipment in the secretary's office or of someone drinking from a water fountain, may cue the student as to his current location.  Environmental cues signal in the student's mind an instant recognition of his location" (p. 49).
 The Difference Between Landmark and Clues:

The only difference between landmark and clue is its permanency.  Landmark is, relatively speaking, permanent, and clues is not.  However, the functions, techniques and procedures in sequence for utilizing landmarks and clues are essentially the same.

Hill, E., & Ponder, P. (1976).  Orientation and Mobility Techniques: A Guide of the Practitioner.  New York:  American Foundation for the Blind.

Jacobson, W. (1993).  The Art and Science of Teaching Orientation and Mobility to Persons with Visual Impairments.  New York:  American Foundation for the Blind.

Teacher Preparation Programs for Students with Visually Impairment
Department of Special Education
College of Education