Here to Help: Meet Steve Jordan, Director of Orientation and Mobility

Steve Jordan guiding an individualBy Brian Klotz

Steve Jordan has devoted his career to helping others achieve their goals. As the Director of Orientation and Mobility for the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (MABVI), Jordan helps to train individuals in how to navigate their environments safely and as independently as possible.

This desire to assist and motivate others can also be seen in Jordan’s other passion: coaching youth sports. A Massachusetts native currently living in Walpole, Jordan received his Bachelor’s from Framingham State University, and afterwards worked at Newton North High School as both a special education aide and a coach for football, baseball, and wrestling. Today, in addition to his duties at MABVI and as the proud father of five children (including a set of triplets born last February!), Jordan continues to coach all three sports at the Nobles and Greenough School in Dedham.

Jordan always knew he wanted to help people through teaching and coaching, but it wasn’t until he was working at Newton North that he discovered exactly how. As a special education aide, Jordan found that one of the students he was working with one-to-one would leave for 45 minutes twice a week, and Jordan never knew why until he asked if he could come along.

“I found out he was having Orientation and Mobility lessons with an instructor,” Jordan explains. “I had never heard of either of those things before and was very intrigued. I began attending every lesson and loved it.”

In Orientation and Mobility training, Jordan found the perfect combination of his passions.

“I believe it is a mixture of teaching and coaching,” he says, “two things I love to do. I learned that I could teach lessons while observing techniques and make corrections. The O&M instructor encouraged me to pursue the field, thought I would be great at it and even provided me with a letter of recommendation. I absolutely love the field and it was the best thing I ever did.”

Jordan attended graduate school at UMass Boston, receiving his Master’s degree in Special Education and a National Certification in Orientation and Mobility. In 2008 he took an internship at MAB Community Services, MABVI’s parent organization, and upon graduation was offered a position in their Orientation and Mobility department. In June of 2016, in recognition of his exceptional work and his dedication to helping the individuals he works with, Jordan was appointed as their new Director of Orientation and Mobility.

Orientation and Mobility is about navigating the environment safely and efficiently, whether independently or with assistance.

“It has to do with knowing your environment,” Jordan explains, “where you are going, where you are in relation to your environment, knowing landmarks, and knowing how to problem solve if you do not find what you are looking for.”

Steve Jordan guiding an individualSince MABVI provides Orientation and Mobility services within an individual’s own living environment, a typical day for Jordan sees him traveling to locations throughout the state, going to day programs, private residences, work sites, and even public transportation to help individuals learn to travel as independently as possible. This can involve teaching techniques such as “trailing,” using a white cane, and learning to use assistive devices. Jordan also performs environmental assessments (making an individual’s environment safe and easy to navigate for a person with vision loss), collects referrals for services, attends ISP (Individual Support Planning) meetings, trains staff, and performs other duties to help individuals live confidently in their environment.

For Jordan, however, the most satisfying part of his work is getting to work directly with individuals and help them reach their goals.

“I love to take individuals out who normally do not get a chance to go out and do normal things that we tend to take for granted,” Jordan says.

Jordan gives one such example, and his enthusiasm for helping others learn more independent living skills is plainly evident:

“For example, on Monday holidays, I usually take out a brother and sister who are both legally blind and we work on things such as how to go to breakfast, how to order independently, how to pay independently, how to tip, and how to travel in unfamiliar places. After that we travel to the movie theater where they do the same thing. They also access audio description devices at the theaters that allow them to watch a movie while headphones describe to them what is going on.

“The excitement on their faces and the independence that they are feeling is what makes me happy. They now call me independently (on the cell phone we worked on getting together) and are able to advocate for themselves and also set up times they want to go out. I love thinking out of the box and doing things that individuals thought they could not do.”

MABVI offers Orientation and Mobility services for individuals who have low vision, legal blindness, or complete blindness. If you or a loved one are having difficulty navigating your environment or performing tasks due to vision impairment, please contact MABVI by calling 888-613-2777, emailing mabvi@mabcommunity.org, or completing our online Service Referral Form.

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