A curriculum designed for students in elementary school who are Blind or Visually Impaired with additional disabilities who are not following the standard course of study.
EXPANDED CORE CURRICULUM
Compensatory & Functional
Orientation & Mobility
Recreation & Leisure
Career & Vocational
The Daily Schedule
Teaching with Units
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One of the primary areas that the O&M will focus on is alternatives to using sight for safe and independent travel purposes. The student is taught trailing techniques, search patterns, sighted guide techniques, use of vision for travel and orientation, use of the long cane, and independent travel in a variety of environments.
Students are typically taught to use a long cane and techniques for using any remaining vision that they may have such as the use of optical devices (telescopes or monoculars). The student needs to learn how to move safely in both familiar and unfamiliar environments.
The O&M may instruct the student in how to get around in special situations (halls, stairs, doorways, curbs, restrooms, restaurants, banks, hotels, pools, parks, etc) and may also instruct the student in special techniques (trailing, "squaring off," protective technique, sighted guide), and dealing with unusual environmental encounters (ice, snow, gratings, escalators, revolving doors, elevators, trains, plains, taxis, etc.).
Although the actual travel skills will be taught by the O&M, the Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments (TVI) will assist the student by teaching basic concepts, body image, visual efficiency and follow through on instruction by the O&M.
Body Awareness (parts, functions & movements)
Families can practice body awareness with little children during bath time. In the classroom, a fun way for students to practice learning their body parts is by singing songs about body parts and movements. Suggested songs can be found in Songs that Teach Concepts.
Movement Concepts (go, start, stop, fast, slow, push, pull, scribble, draw, trace, bend, close, open, slide, roll (roll up), fold, hold, insert, place (put), put together, reach, sit, squeeze, turn, take apart, follow.) An understanding of movement concepts are important for following directions as well as in the development of orientation and mobility skills. Modeling these activities and providing fun games to practice these skills is a natural way to develop movement concepts.
Gathering Information From the Environment
Students should be encouraged to use all their senses to gather information about their environment. Interpreting the information they gain through the students usable vision, hearing, touch and smell can help the student establish and maintain their position in space.
Audition. Students can develop auditory perception of objects by using sound waves through echolocation. Students can also use environmental sounds to judge time. For example, hearing students bustling in the hall signals that it is time to go to lunch.
Touch. The sense of touch allows a student to determine the shape, size, temperature, texture and weight of any given object. This can be used for academics, but also for all areas of activities of daily living (e.g. identifying food, distinguishing clothes, etc.) Air currents can also be helpful in knowing if doors and windows are open.
Smell. The sense of smell can be helpful for identification of areas (e.g., kitchen, cafeteria, clorox in bathroom, etc.). Smell can also help warn of danger. Smell can also provide information about others as well as personal hygiene.
Trailing is a technique that most students will use in order to move safely through hallways and through rooms as well as to orient themselves as they travel. It is a way of moving the fingers along a surface. Keep this in mind when displaying students’ projects in the hallway. The O&M will instruct the student on the proper trailing technique which uses the back of the hand to lightly trail along a wall or surface. The student should be encouraged to touch the wall with the back of the hand nearest the wall. The student should lightly/gently touch and use the back of their fingers (knuckles of the index and middle fingers) along the wall while walking.
When a student is using a trailing technique to explore a new room, help them explore the perimeter of the room and then have them investigate the center of the room using a crisscross pattern.
Although the O&M instructor will encourage the student to use a light touch, it is best to place materials at a height that they will not be accidentally ripped or torn. You may also want to consider placing a strong, textured collage at a student’s handrail height to provide motivation for maintaining a trailing technique. This will help the student realizes where the collage is in relation to other activity areas and classrooms. The art teacher may embrace this idea and design permanent three dimensional collages specific to key areas of the building. You may also consider attaching interesting items (balloon, brailled message, sticker, etc.) along familiar trailing surface for the student to locate. These activities will increase a student's motivation for maintaining contact while trailing.
Systematic Search Techniques
Students need to learn how to use a systematic search pattern to locate items that have rolled away or fallen. Teach students to stop and listen as soon as an object falls. Encourage them to try to hear where it struck the floor, rather than automatically reaching for it. Show them how to use their hand to make sweeps left to right. If they can't find it, then so forward or backward.
Upper-hand-and-forearm technique. This technique is helpful in protecting the upper body, especially the head and chest. This protects the student from head-high hazards such as tree limbs. This can also help protect the head when searching for a dropped item under a desk or table. In this technique, the student stretches their arm out in front at should height with it slightly bent at the elbow. The forearm should be parallel to the shoulders and the hand in line with the opposite shoulder. The student's hand should be turned with the palm faced out and fingers facing forward.
Lower-hand-and-forearm technique. This technique is helpful in protecting the lower body, especially the abdomen and groin when traveling short distances. This is similar to the above technique, but the student lowers their arm to about 12 inches in front of the opposite thigh.
The O&M may encourage the younger student to use push-toys or other alternative mobility devices (frequently called pre-canes) to help teach the student that something he pushes in front of him can bump into an object first. The student can then identify and/or maneuver around the item. Older students may be instructed in the proper use of the long cane. There are different canes as well as different techniques and the O&M should collaborate with all team members to ensure that everyone working with the student can confidently carry over the skills throughout the day.
Proper Guide Technique
A sighted person can be trained to be a guide for a person who is visually impaired. There are some basics of proper sighted guide. A sighted guide can be on either side of the student, depending on the student or guides preference. If the guide is on the left, it will help with negotiating stairs and doors.
For the older student: Encourage the student who is blind to lightly grasp the guide just above the elbow as this position gives the best movement clues. The thumb should be on the outside as in holding a glass or a can of soda. The students arm should be held at a right angle. The guide should keep their arm relaxed at his/her side with the elbow bent only if more support is needed. The guide should stay one step ahead. This allows the student to anticipate the movement. The guide should pause before steps and curbs and alert them to any dangers.
For the younger student: Encourage the student to hold onto the guide's wrist and follow the guide's body movement. The student is guided, not pushed or pulled when walking along.
The following is youtube video, published by AFB, demonstrates proper guide techniques.
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Dog guides are assistance dogs trained to lead people who are blind or visually impaired. Dog guides can be helpful for many, but not appropriate for everyone. The person who uses the dog guide must have excellent orientation and mobility skills. They also must like dogs and be willing to provide ongoing care and maintenance of a dog guide. This page contains links to agencies that train and provide eligible people with dog guides.
It’s essential to teach students who are blind or visually impaired to navigate safely from one location to another. The goal for students is for them to travel independently from any point in the classroom to any other point in the classroom as well as be able to travel from the classroom to significant locations in the school building. This page provides suggestions for helping to orient a student to their environment. It also provides suggestions for encouraging environmental awareness and exploration
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