Moving was an adventure for the whole family. As the daughter of a service member in the United States Navy, Keema Mc Clung moved around a lot, giving her the opportunity to see a number of places in the United States. As an Orientation and Mobility Specialist with Braille Institute San Diego, she is able to share her love of experiencing the world with people who are blind or visually impaired.
“I wanted to help people who are visually impaired learn ways to travel safely and efficiently,” she said.
Keema has worked with Braille Institute for 30 years. She began her career with Braille Institute in Palm Springs and assisted with the center’s move to its current location in Rancho Mirage. In 1995, she began her work with the center in San Diego. Over the years she has helped a number of students, even military veterans and spouses of active duty service members at Camp Pendleton.
Orientation and Mobility has a long history with veterans. Techniques and formal training of specialists were developed after World War II to help returning service members who were blind or visually impaired. The first university training program started in 1960. Since then, the program has expanded to working with adults, children and preschool-aged children.
“Not only do we have the opportunity to help our students who are visually impaired build skills through training and preparation for real life travel situations, but we also get to help create learning experiences for friends and family, volunteers and the whole community,” Keema said.
For people starting out or interested in the field of Orientation and Mobility, she has a few words of advice: stay hydrated, wear sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat. Good shoes and carrying items hands free helps as well, she said.
“If you like helping people find their way to a great sense of freedom and independence in a very real way, Orientation and Mobility just might be for you,” she said.
When people find out Keema is an Orientation and Mobility Specialist many ask if she can read Braille or if she knows sign language. Every so often, she gets a real treat when someone tells her about their friend or family member who has been a student at Braille Institute and how the nonprofit has helped them, she said.
For people who have recently lost their vision and are wondering if Orientation and Mobility can help them, Keema encourages them to give it a try as this program is very flexible to suit your needs.
“Orientation and Mobility Specialists need your perspective too,” she said. “By participating you are helping to enrich this field of endeavor.”
Keema says she is grateful for all the places she has been privileged to work and learn.
“I continue to learn daily about helping people who are experiencing vision loss and hearing loss, as well as communication with people who speak other languages or who have English as a second language,” she said. “Our students are wonderful educators.”