What does Ms. Milton need to know about students with visual impairments?
Page 4: The Need for an Expanded Core Curriculum
Having read Evan’s and Emily’s IEPs, Ms. Milton has learned that they will take part in the same core curriculum (e.g., language arts, mathematics, social studies) as their sighted classmates. In addition, Evan and Emily need the expanded core curriculum (ECC)—curriculum encompassing the range of skills that address the disability-specific needs of students who have visual impairments. While competency in the core curriculum is needed for academic success, competency in the ECC enables students with visual impairments to enjoy a rich, fulfilling adult life. The ECC consists of instruction in the nine areas outlined in the table below.
|Compensatory skills||Skills designed to help students with visual impairments engage in the academic core curriculum to the greatest possible extent; also referred to as functional academic skills.|
|Orientation and mobility (O&M)||Skills that help students with visual impairments to freely navigate the physical environment with the highest possible degree of independence.|
|Social interaction skills||The competencies and customs associated with interpersonal relationships and communication—including common gestures, body language and other nonverbal signals, and issues related to personal space—that sighted individuals largely acquire through observation.|
|Independent living skills||The competencies most commonly associated with independent living, including personal hygiene, basic culinary skills, and time management, among many others; also often called daily living skills.|
|Recreation and leisure skills||The skills and competencies associated with recreation and leisure both in the school environment as well as after school and on into adult life; considered necessary because sighted students typically select recreational activities through a process of observation and comparison, a process often not available to students with visual impairments.|
|Career education||The skills and competencies most commonly associated with work and employment; often taught through work study opportunities and first-hand experiences; an extension of the core curriculum’s general vocational education through which sighted students frequently learn through observation.|
|Assistive technology||The knowledge and skills needed to use any of a wide array of items, devices, services, and systems used to enhance, maintain, and improve the functional capabilities in the daily lives of people with disabilities or special needs.|
|Sensory efficiency skills||The ability to use residual vision and the other senses (e.g., touch, smell, taste) to access and take part in school, home, and community activities.|
|Self-determination||A set of behaviors that includes decision-making, self-regulation, goal setting, problem-solving, and self-advocacy; a curriculum target for many students with disabilities, particularly those with intellectual disabilities.|
Delivering the Expanded Core Curriculum
Educational time must be allocated to teach the skills outlined in the expanded core curriculum and to allow students with visual impairments to master these competencies. This means that students might need some separate pull-out instruction for skills such as practicing orientation and mobility, reading braille, and using assistive technology. All of this may require a substantial amount of time, so Ms. Milton must be willing to collaborate with other educational professionals to schedule this additional instruction and to allow students time to make up any missed classwork. For all of this to take place, there must be a high level of commitment among the student, the parents, the school leaders, and other relevant educational professionals.
Phil Hatlen discusses the general education teacher’s role in delivering the ECC (time: 1:29).
Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Addressing Evan’s Expanded Core Curriculum
At Evan’s IEP meeting, his parents explain that they have begun giving him a weekly allowance to keep his room neat and clean; however, they are concerned that Evan won’t be able to distinguish the different coins and bills he has earned. They are also concerned that Evan will not have the typical opportunities enjoyed by other kids his age to spend his money on small purchases. Ms. Milton replies that she has just completed a mathematics unit on money and is certain that Evan knows the values of different coins and bills. He is able to accurately add and subtract money values—this provides the first step for meeting his goals. The TVI says that if Evan’s parents are willing to purchase a wallet for their son, Ms. Milton will teach him how to identify different coins by touch, how to use an app on his mobile phone to identify different bills, and a system for folding bills so he can identify them in his wallet. The O&M specialist adds that community lessons could easily be structured to provide opportunities for a wide variety of business transactions, including small purchases. Evan excitedly states that he is saving part of his allowance for an accessible video game and that he would really like to purchase it during an O&M lesson.