Planes, Trains, & Canes in the U.S. and Abroad

Tags: Orientation and Mobility

She first came to VisionCorps as part of a mobility exercise. Years later, she ended up working at VisionCorps. Katarina Eller, who has low vision, is a Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist (COMS).

Katarina has traveled around the world and lived outside the U.S. Then she chose to return home, and also returned to VisionCorps to teach others with low vision how to travel safely.

She is an instructor who is experienced with safe travel in different environments. Katarina has navigated air travel, public transportation, and finding directions in different languages. She can understand, answer and teach a variety of mobility skills to clients at VisionCorps.

“I first came to VisionCorps when I was in high school,” said Katarina. “I lived in the Akron area and one of my assignments through the Intermediate Unit was to take a bus trip to VisionCorps.”

VisionCorps continued to have a role in her activities throughout high school and college.

“I was part of the STEP summer internship designed to teach students more independent skills and help them learn more about work options after finishing school,” Katarina said. “At that time, the summer program at VisionCorps was a cohort of girls. One activity was a field trip to the mall where we needed to take public transportation to get there and navigate our way around the stores.”

That summer program at VisionCorps at the time included all girls. One activity was a field trip to the mall where we needed to take public transportation to get there and navigate our way around the stores.”

Katarina attended Elizabethtown College after high school and graduated with a degree in modern languages with a concentration in Spanish and German. She is conversational in both languages.

“You have to practice and use a different language to keep up with it,” said Katarina, who uses Spanish to work with some clients at VisionCorps.

Germany was her next venue. Katarina lived and worked in Hamburg for two years for as a volunteer working for the House of Hospitality run by the Catholic Worker Movement. During the time she was in Germany, she traveled in Europe.

“I got to meet people from all over the world,” said Katarina. “Most of them were refugees arriving in Europe right before the Syrian refugee crisis. It was a very intense and enriching experience.”

When she returned to the U.S., Katarina went to the University of Pittsburgh where she received her certification as an orientation and mobility specialist. She completed an internship at VisionCorps, and started work full-time at VisionCorps providing instruction to clients on safe and efficient travel.

“We work on whatever challenges and goals our clients have,” said Katarina. “It might be navigating your home, going outdoors to walk from your house to the mailbox, walking to the store, or taking public transportation.”

Katarina helps lead the mobility motivation support and education virtual group, where she said they discuss “anything and everything” related to mobility.

“Some recent topics included Planes, Trains, and Canes, and Planes, Trains, and Canes with Katarina in Other Countries!”