Social Studies Adaptations
By: Carmen Willings
During discussions of social studies units, younger students can role-play jobs such as waiter, banker, police officer, sales associate, fireman, etc. Role-playing by dressing in the clothing of a different culture, playing the music unique to that culture, and using tools and sampling foods of the culture can help students make connections with some of the more abstract concepts and topics required by the Standards. Incorporating the use of real objects and materials when studying units can make the concepts more concrete and interesting for all students. Be sure to use sturdy objects and materials, paying attention to the size and nature of the object to allow for tactile exploration.
As students get older, and particularly for those following the standard course of study, the school work will become increasingly complicated and abstract. Students will quickly move beyond the scope of their school, neighborhoods, and cities and learn about neighboring states and countries. Students will need to be able to read symbols, graphs, and charts.
It is essential for classroom teachers and the Teacher of the Visually Impaired to collaborate and work together closely for the TVI to have time to create accessible maps and materials. Materials need to be ready promptly so they will be ready when classmates are presented with similar materials. The TVI may also need to provide models (ex., a model of a volcano, historical objects, etc.), depending on the topic.
It is important that students first receive instruction in reading maps and other materials such as pie charts, bar graphs, and timelines. Also keep in mind that if videos are shown (as frequently occurs in Social Studies classes), audio descriptions will need to be provided if the audio description is not available.
Adaptations in Presentation
Tables and Charts
If it is not possible for your class to go off campus, consider inviting a guest speaker/visitor to talk about their job and bring objects for the students to explore. Invite a guest related to the unit to come in and discuss information related to the topic and provide hands-on experiences for students. Encourage students to listen attentively to the speaker. Encourage students to use active listening skills. Encourage students to relate what they heard with prior knowledge.
The Braille Transcribers Kit: Countries and Continents from APH, is a collection of embossed and printed outlines of maps commonly found in history, geography, and social studies textbooks. The embossed sheets can be used as templates when you create tactile maps. Features can be added using tactual graphics tools, craft ink, textures, and braille labels. They can also be used as masters for swell paper tactile graphics. APH recommends making a photocopy of images onto capsule paper, add labels, lines, and symbols, and produce the raised image by running the graphic through the heating machine.
The Braille Transcriber's Kit: U.S. Maps from APH, is a collection of embossed and printed drawings of figures commonly found in history, geography, and social studies textbooks. Maps include North America, including Canada, the United States, and Mexico, the U.S. outline, U.S. with 50 states outlined, Western region states, Eastern region states, and the original 13 colonies. The embossed sheets may be used as templates for thermoforming. APH recommends making a photocopy of images onto capsule paper, add labels, lines, and symbols, and produce the raised image by running the graphic through the heating machine.
This table model from APH is a standard 12" political globe covered with a tactile clear plastic overlay. Among the overlay's features are continent outlines, higher and lower elevations, and raised latitude and longitude lines.
Map Study I Kit: Maps Represent Real Places
This kit from APH introduces basic map concepts by having students map a classroom and other known environments. Students learn to find objects and to identify map symbols representing those objects.
Recognizing Landforms: An Audio-Tutorial Program in Map Study
This program from APH uses characters on cassette tape to introduce 40 geographical concepts, such as distinguishing mountains from valleys, channels from bays, etc. It includes 10 tactile landforms and cassette tapes.
Relief Map for Desk Use
This relief map, available from APH, of the continental U.S. with elevations that are exaggerated 20 times. Ocean floors are incised with latitude and longitude lines. This plasticmap uses high-contrast paint to depict water areas as blue and land surfaces as yellow and brown.
State Maps Collection
This State Map Collection from APH is a set of embossed and printed outline maps for a region of the United States. APH recommends adding to the images with tracing wheel lines, craft ink, glued-on textures, etc. Braille labels can also be added.
Although this kit, available from APH, is designed to be used to teach O&M skills, it is also a great tool to use when teaching local geography units such as neighborhoods and towns.
This large, colorful, and tactual map from APH is topographical. It features tactile mountains, rivers, and state capitals. State abbreviations in braille as well as latitude and longitude lines. It also includes masking overlays for assessment purposes.
This set of tactile world maps, available from APH, features a large tactile reference map showing the major oceans and land masses of the Earth using high-contrast raised surfaces, braille and print labels, and textured lines and areas.
These thermo-formed tactile maps from APH are a comprehensive aid to geographic instruction and orientation. The tactile maps include all the continents, regions, and countries of the world. They differ from other tactile maps in that they use clear variations in height and texture, allowing a greater amount of readable information in a given space.
Resources to Support You in Teaching Students with Visual Impairments
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Accommodations for Students who are Blind or Visually Impaired Recorded Presentation
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