Orientation is simply knowing where you are in relationship to things around you. Building strong mental maps is a critical component of orientation skills for students who are visually impaired. Mental mapping skills directly impact a student's ability to independently travel routes. ObjectiveEd's Wayfinding app is designed specifically to help students develop strong mental maps through game play on the iPad.
Below is ObjectiveEd's whiteboard video - Sara & Kia: Mental Mapping and Navigation
The Wayfinding game does an amazing job of breaking the task of navigating a route down to the most basic step of exploring one short street (mental mapping mode), and sequentially progressing to more challenging levels (navigation mode).
Besides the foundational mental mapping and navigation skills, the Wayfinding app can also help develop distance concepts. The Wayfinding video describes the instruction of moving five steps forward to locate the bakery and that the student can count using the auditory "cane taps". As an O&M, I typically do not provide step counting directions. However, I do teach about "time and distance" (paying attention to approximately how far you have traveled in order to anticipate a landmark/turn or to provide a clue when a student has missed a landmark/turn). I also teach students to have a concept of feet/yards; this is an important concept when using GPS or map information. In conjunction with the Wayfinding game, include an activity to determine the length of a student's stride and how his stride can be used to develop distance concepts. An average adult has a stride of approximately 2.5 feet, while a tall adult or someone with a big stride will step 3 feet. 3 feet equals 1 yard, making it easier to estimate distances using yards vs. feet. Does your student have a concept of walking 25 yards or 100 yards? Learn more about teaching distances in yards in the post, AFTER Remore Instruction for Students Transitioning to College: On Campus post.
As an O&M, I like how I can use the direction "move five steps forward" to talk about time and distance within the game. The bakery is five steps (equivalent to about 5 yards?) which is about 2 inches in this game on the iPad screen.
The Wayfinding game is a fantastic - and motivating - way for O&M students to build stronger mental mapping and navigation skills!