ORGANIZATION & STUDY SKILLS
By: Carmen Willings
Updated October 28, 2017
Students in school are expected to know and implement organizational strategies and skills in order to manage their materials and be able to retrieve assignments. For this reason, it is important for students who are blind or have visual impairments to organize and care for the special tools and materials that they use. Organization is an important skill to work on early to best prepare the student for their academic career as well as their future job/career.
Obtain Own Belongings
It is important to encourage the student to obtain their own belongings and take responsibility for independently storing and retrieving personal items when prompted (e.g. books, lunch, gym shoes, coat, etc.). Although it may be tempting to want to speed up the process or help the student, it is important for the student to obtain their own belongings. This not only helps the student learn where items belong but also helps teach the student responsibility. Using a consistent and accessible labeling system throughout the classroom will assist students in locating materials.
Arrange and maintain personal spaces
It is important for all students, but particularly students with visual impairments to maintain organization of their school materials. Maintaining an organized space will reduce visual clutter, keep materials from getting damaged, and will make the retrieval of materials easier.
Encourage the student to arrange and maintain their own personal spaces (cubbies, lockers, backpacks and desks). All students need to learn to keep their areas organized. This will help the student locate needed materials and will also prevent materials from getting damaged. Students will need to label and mark their materials in a system that works for them and is accessible (using large print, braille, or tactual/picture labels).
Maintain Notebooks, Binders, & Materials
Setup/maintain notebooks and binders by adding large print or braille labels. By labeling materials with labels, the student will be able to quickly locate the needed notebook or binder. A color coding system works well for some students, but not for all. Consider each students unique visual and learning needs when helping the student set up a system.
It is also important for the student to organize and maintain their materials and supplies by adding large print and/or braille labels to them. Similar to labeling binders and notebooks, labeling containers that store materials will help ensure that things will be put back in the same spot. Also, placing the students name on their items will help them stay on top of what belongs to them.
Maintain Personal Address, Directories & Passwords
Help the student maintain a personal address/phone directory and passwords. In this day and age most people store their contacts in their smart phones, however, it is still ideal to have a back-up location for storing addresses and phone numbers. Whether a student uses electronic means or large print or braille, the student needs to create an organized system that they can easily retrieve information independently. Students will also need to have a location and system for storing usernames and passwords for any online accounts.
Care for Assistive Technology
Encourage the student to take care of equipment and assistive devices in personal possession. Assistive technology devices can be very expensive. Whether the materials have been purchased by the family or by the school, the student needs to learn the importance of taking care of the materials. This includes cleaning the materials when they get dirty, storing them properly, and transporting them safely. The student also needs to learn how to problem solve when something goes wrong with any equipment. Who should they contact? Can they fix it safely on their own?
Utilize tools for Organization
Utilize tools to organize papers (e.g., stapler, paper clips, notebook binders, pocket folders, index tabs, etc.). Students who are visually impaired or blind cannot casually observe how others may use tools to organize their supplies and may need direct instruction and practice in how to operate the tools in order to use them safely and effectively. Students also need to be instructed in which tool is the best to perform a specific job.
Access Reference/Resource Materials
Skills in reading resource materials should be practiced so the student will be prepared to use them in class.
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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.