ECC ANNUAL NEEDS CONSIDERATION
By: Carmen Willings
The Expanded Core Curriculum consists of nine unique areas that address the knowledge and skills needed by students with visual impairments due to their unique needs. The various areas of the expanded core curriculum provide educators with a way of addressing the needs of students with visual impairments. The student's needs in each of the areas should be considered each year and priorities made as to which areas should be forcused on.
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Due to the nationwide shortage of vision professionals, it can be challenging to locate personnel. Announce a job vacancy on the Job Exchange of Teaching Students with Visual Impairments, an online listing of jobs specific to the visual impairment field.
Direct instruction is recommended for those areas that require the specialized skills of the TVI to help a student acquire or maintain skills. Consultation or collaboration should be indicated when time is needed by the TVI to share strategies, materials, adapted curriculum, environmental modifications, and medical information and to model and monitor instructional techniques with the educational team. Not all students will need to learn all skills within the Expanded Core Curriculum.
Compensatory skills are those skills needed by students who are blind or visually impaired to access all areas of the core curriculum. This includes concept development, spatial understanding, study and organizational skills, speaking & listening skills, and adaptations needed to access the core curriculum (braille, large print, regular print with low vision devices, recordings).
Sensory efficiency skills include using one’s remaining senses (vision, auditory, olfactory, and tactile) to function more efficiently and effectively (e.g. use of environmental cues, non-optical tools, optical low vision devices, etc.)
Technology can level the playing field for students with visual impairments and can be a great equalizer. Students who are blind or have low vision need to acquire a range of technology skills that will give them options for gathering and conveying information.
Orientation and Mobility pertains to the student’s ability to move safely and efficiently throughout the environment. Skills include body and spatial awareness, independent travel, use of long cane, protective techniques, cardinal directions, mental mapping, etc.
Independent Living Skills includes everyday activities that allow a person to lead independent lives (personal hygiene, food preparation, money and time management, organization, etc.). It is important for the student to develop responsibility and independence in order to become the most independent and contributing member of their homes and communities that will promote social acceptance.
Social interaction skills include socially appropriate behavior such as facial expressions, body language, eye contact, etc. which are primarily learned by watching others. These may need to be taught to students with visual impairments because they may be unable to casually observe how people interact and socialize with one another.
Recreation and leisure skills include the development of life-long skills beyond team sports (e.g. play, recreational reading, athletics, hobbies, etc.).
Career education provides the student with a visual impairment includes the basic knowledge of the world of work, transition from school to post-secondary options and also addresses the vocational skills students need to perform jobs and keep employment.
Self-Determination highlights the importance of believing in oneself, while understanding one’s abilities and limitations including knowledge of one’s visual impairment. It is important for all students, but particularly those with visual impairments to learn to cope with failures and how to strive for success.
The E.A. Rubric Essential Assessments for Children who are Blind or Visually Impaired is an online tool to help guide you through the ECC annual needs consideration process. The rubric lists ECC area assessments, teaching curriculum and resources by ECC content area to ensure teams are identifying and prioritizing areas of instruction within the Expanded Core Curriculum.
The Iowa Department of Education has put together an Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC) Resource Guide to provide Teachers of Students with Visual Impairments and O&M Specialists with a resource to assess, plan, instruct, and evaluate students in all areas of the ECC.