Expanded Core Curriculum

What Is the Expanded Core Curriculum?

Children who are blind or visually impaired need to study the same basic academic subjects that sighted children do, from how to tell time to how to write a persuasive essay. In order to master these subjects (often known as the "core curriculum") and complete their schoolwork, as well as to eventually live and work independently, children who are visually impaired usually need to learn an additional set of skills known as the "expanded core curriculum."

These skills are sometimes also referred to as "disability-specific skills" or "vision-related skills" because they are useful specifically for individuals who are visually impaired. The skills may include activities such as:

  • Using braille to read and write, instead of reading printed books or using a pencil and paper to write
  • Learning how to move about in the environment safely and independently, which is known as Orientation and Mobility (O&M)
  • Knowing how to use specialized computer equipment and other technology devices designed for children with visual impairments
  • Learning how to use what vision they have effectively and efficiently

The classroom teacher is responsible for teaching children the basic academic curriculum. Because the expanded core curriculum covers the unique, specialized needs of visually impaired students, the subjects included within it have to be taught by a teacher who specializes in working with students who have visual impairments. This teacher is a pivotal member of the educational team that works with a child who is blind or visually impaired.

This information was taken from the Expanded Core Curriculum Advocacy website.

How All Blind Children of Texas Supports the Expanded Core Curriculum

All Blind Children of Texas supports programs for visually impaired students in the areas of the Expanded Core Curriculum.

Nine areas of learning:

  1. Compensatory academic skills, including communication modes: Whatever is presented visually that needs to be presented either auditorally or tactually to a blind or visually impaired student.  A fundamental skill for teachers of the visually impaired: to examine a lesson to be taught that is primarily visual and determine how to provide the same learning experience by using auditory and/or tactual methods. 
  2. Social Interaction Skills: All the ways we interact with others.  What makes it fun for us to talk with friends?  Probably similar interests, a recent experience, an understanding of the way two-way communication works.  We do not interrupt, we always show interest, we give our friend our full attention.  We learned all of these factors for positive social interaction by visually observing others.  How do you suppose blind and visually impaired students will learn these skills?  They will have to be taught, and, in the best of all worlds, the teacher and the parents will collaborate in the teaching of social interaction skills.
  3. Recreation and Leisure Skills: Many blind and visually impaired students are at risk for living a life without exercise, without the pleasure of bowling, golfing, boating, etc.  Why?  Because no one showed them, no one taught them, no one encouraged them.  I never learned to roller skate.  I thought it was strictly for girls, and it didn’t look like much fun.  How do blind and visually impaired children make such a decision?  They have to put on the skates.
  4. Use of Assistive Technology: What have computers done to our lives?  How much time per day do you spend reading email or surfing the web?  Your blind or visually impaired child can do all the things you can do with a computer.  She needs only two things:  the equipment that makes the computer accessible to a blind or visually impaired child, and the instruction necessary to know how to use it.  Both are the responsibilities of education.
  5. Orientation and Mobility: This was once the only area recognized in the Expanded Core Curriculum.  It is obvious that blind and visually impaired students need the assistance of a qualified orientation and mobility instructor in order to learn to travel as independently as possible.  What is not so well-known is that the need for an orientation and mobility instructor begins soon after birth and continues throughout school.
  6. Independent Living Skills: “Do you know how to fix breakfast?”  “Yes, I know.”  “Show me.”  The 21-year-old blind student picked up a box of Cherrios, ripped the top off, reached in his hand and grabbed a handful of Cherrios and stuffed them into his mouth.  Sometimes blind or visually impaired young people don’t know what they don’t know. Independent living skills instruction covers a wide area of instructional needs, from dressing and grooming to menu planning, cooking, and financial management.  These are skills that teachers of the visually impaired know how to teach. Teachers enjoy being partners with parents on the teaching of independent living skills.
  7. Career Education: It is well-known that the most serious issue among blind and visually impaired adults is unemployment.  What can schools do about this?  They can begin career education programs in the early elementary grades, in order to help young children better understand the world, and the world of work.  Schools can assure that your child has a clear and thorough understanding of his or her strengths and weaknesses, has explored careers that match his or her strengths, and has had work experiences that are realistic for him or her before high school graduation. 
  8. Visual Efficiency Skills: Many years ago we learned that children with low vision could benefit from a carefully planned, systematic program of vision utilization.  It was possible, educators learned, to increase visual efficiency when it was not possible to increase visual acuity. 
  9. Self-determination: Skills to enable students to become effective advocates for themselves based on their own needs and goals.

page last updated: 02-11-2012, 04:08:26 pm