Certificate in Orientation and Mobility

This program prepares students to teach all age ranges of individuals who are blind or visually impaired to travel safely and efficiently through their environment. Completion of the program will allow students to apply for certification with the Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals (ACVREP) as a Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist (COMS).

The final requirement is completion of a 350-hour COMS-supervised internship in Orientation and Mobility (O&M) that meets ACVREP specifications. Full completion of the program leads to a certificate in Orientation and Mobility. The option to complete a Masters in Special Education with emphasis in O&M is also an option. If interested, contact the program coordinator. Students must successfully complete the full program to be qualified to teach as Orientation and Mobility specialists.

Job Opportunities

In Canada, students who complete the O&M graduate certificate
tend to work as O&M specialists through the following service
delivery models

  • Work with school age children hired by a school district
  • Private contract work (generally with school districts)
  • Work with adults through Vision Loss Rehabilitation (VLR)
    or another rehabilitation agency (province dependent)

Course Schedule

A new cohort starts every other year, and begins in the summer of even years (e.g., 2024, 2026). The Graduate Certiicate in O&M is 15 credits.

Starting Summer:
July, Even year (e.g. 2024, 2026)
EPSE 514: Advanced Orientation and Mobility Techniques (6 Credits)
On-campus, 5 weeks | mid-July to mid-August; M-F; 5 hrs/day (allows for built in break and travel time)
First Winter:
September, Even year (e.g. 2024, 2026)
EPSE 537: Programming in Orientation and Mobility (3 credits)
Online, 13 weeks | September–December
Second Winter:
January, Odd year (e.g. 2025, 2027)
EPSE 538: Seminar in Orientation and Mobility (3 credits)
Online, 13 weeks | January–April
Start date and length dependent on placement after course completion EPSE 598: Internship (3 credits)
In the field | 350-hour internship

**Students can take up to two consecutive terms to complete the 350-hour internship. Additional time may require registering for EPSE 598 a second time.[/accordion]


For individuals who do not have background in visual impairment with accompanying approved university courses that meet the pre-requisites, 9 additional credit hours of coursework, plus completion of a self-study program in braille reading and writing, are required. Upon application, transcripts will be reviewed to determine if pre-requisite conditions are met. If all or some of the pre-requisites are needed, they can be completed beginning in the May/June term before the start of the O&M program in July. The following is the pre-requisite schedule. Note: Students who take pre-requisites must achieve at least a B+ mark to continue on into the O&M certificate courses.

Course Schedule

EPSE 514: Advanced Orientation and Mobility Techniques (6 Credits)
On-campus, 4 weeks | mid-July to mid-August (begins after EPSE 513 ends); M-F; 5 hrs/day (allows for built in break and travel time)

Starting Summer:
May/June (e.g. 2024, 2026)
EPSE 540: Seminar in Low Vision (3 credits)
On-line, 6 weeks |
Starting Summer:
July, Even year (e.g. 2024, 2026)
EPSE 513: Foundations of Orientation and Mobility for Teachers of Students with Visual Impairments (3 credits)
On-campus, 3 weeks | first 3 weeks in July; M-F; 2.5 hrs/day

EPSE 545 Teaching the Expanded Core Curriculum to Students with Visual Impairments  (3 credits; Option in place of EPSE 536 or 320)
On-campus, 3 weeks | first 3 weeks in July; M-F; 2.5 hrs/day

EPSE 514: (First O&M course, see schedule above)
starts at the completion of the above two courses. Students needing the pre-requisites will have an 8-week summer on-campus.

Braille Self-Study; start time variable Braille self-study course or braille transcription course

Successful completion of braille exam before internship start.

Braille Course Options:

Braille competency is a requirement. Students who need to do the Braille self-study will take a UBC administered exam to determine competency, once their self-study is complete. Braille self-study can be completed in several ways:

1. Take the Hadley School for the Blind (free) self-study. The following modules are required:

  • Basic Braille by Sight Reading and Writing Series
  • Contracted Braille by Sight Reading and Writing Series
  • Special Braille Symbols Reading and Writing Series

Note: If you do not learn by sight, there are tactile series as well.

2. Take an approved braille course or transcription course (check with program advisor for approval). One option is the Canadian National institute for the Blind Transcription Course ($500).

Applicant Requirements

All students must meet the admission and application requirements of both Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies , and the program, which include:

  • A completed four-year undergraduate degree (Bachelor’s degree), and at least a 76% average on all senior-level credits
  • Evidence of adequate preparation, ideally through a combination of academic and professional experience, to undertake graduate level study in this area. Please note that exceptions to having a Bachelor’s degree cannot be made.
  • Evidence of completion of prerequisite courses (or approved equivalents; see below for course listing) prior to the start of EPSE 514 with at least a 76% mark in each course. Braille self-study can be completed during the program, but must be completed by the start of internship (EPSE 598B).

Required application materials for this program include:

  • Completed online application form (apply here) .
  • One official (sealed) transcript from all post-secondary institutions (except from UBC)
    • Note: Applicants currently enrolled in the M.Ed./M.A. special education Masters in blindness and visual impairment do not need to resubmit transcripts.
  • Three electronic letters of reference
  • An electronic copy of an up-to-date resumé


The following courses (or approved equivalents) are prerequisites for the Graduate Certificate in O&M (see the About tab for the schedule of needed pre-requisites, which can be taken at UBC beginning May/June of the start year of the O&M certificate):

EPSE 540: Seminar in Low Vision
EPSE 541: Braille Reading and Writing (or self-study and evidence of proficiency)
EPSE 545: Teaching the Expanded Core Curriculum – OR – EPSE 320 – OR – EPSE 536
EPSE 513: Foundations of Orientation and Mobility for Teachers of Students with Visual Impairments – OR – EPSE 455

Online Application Form

Students will be asked to respond to the following question on the application form:

  1. Please provide a 500-word statement of your academic and professional goals, indicating how you think this program can help you enhance your professional learning and practice.
  2. Please provide a 500-word description of academic and/or professional experience that you feel have prepared you to take up graduate-level work in this area of study.
  3. Please discuss any other information you feel would be important to the Admission Committee in evaluating your application to the Faculty of Graduate Studies (optional; only if there is something you have not had an opportunity to highlight)

Transcripts should be sent to:

SPED Program Support
Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology, & Special Education
The University of British Columbia
Faculty of Education
2523 – 2125 Main Mall
Vancouver, B.C., V6T 1Z4

Application Status: Open!
Application Deadline: December 1, 2023
Program starts: July 2024*

*The program begins in July 2024, if you need pre-requisites, you will begin May 2024.

Online Application: Click here 

Application Procedure:

Please disregard the introductory information on the application site as it for all applications and does not apply directly to this program. To begin your application:

  1. Visit: https://secure.grad.ubc.ca/AccountC/instructions.asp 
  2. Select create account (link on the left)
  3. Create your account
  4. Click new application (link on left after creating your account)

You can then use the drop-down menu to select Certificate in O&M and get started!

Course Program Fees

  • Domestic students: $394.24 / credit rate
  • International students: $869.29 / credit rate
    (Effective May 1, 2023)

These fees do not include the student fees paid by all UBC students (e.g. Athletic fee, U-Pass, etc.). Learn more about student fees

Tuition fees are in Canadian dollars, are reviewed annually by the UBC Board of Governors, and are subject to change. Please reference the UBC Calendar for published tuition fees.

The program fees for the 15-credit certificate will be charged on a per-credit basis.