SOCIAL STUDIES ADAPTATIONS
By: Carmen Willings
Social studies for younger children and those with multiple disabilities, is best taught when students can role-play or go on community outings to have hands on experiences with environments in the community specific to the current topic.
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 in order for the TVI to have time to create accessible maps and materials. Materials need to be ready in a timely manner 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 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.
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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.