The Expanded Core Curriculum
By: Carmen Willings
Updated August 4, 2019
The Expanded Core Curriculum addresses the knowledge and skills needed by students with visual impairments due to their unique disability and specific needs. The various areas of the expanded core curriculum provide educators with a way of addressing the needs of students with visual impairments as well as those with additional disabilities. The educational requirements of this population are not always met since the lack of vision is considered "minor", especially when the child is severely impacted by cognitive and physical disabilities.
Compensatory skills are those skills needed by students who are blind or visually impaired to access all areas of the core curriculum. All students need to be taught the skills necessary to access information within the standard core curriculum to be successful in mastering state and national education standards. Individualized instruction in compensatory skills will help the student who is blind learn about the world, communicate, and develop literacy. Compensatory skills include concept development, spatial understanding, study, and organizational skills, speaking and listening skills and the adaptations required to fully access all areas of the general curriculum. This section provides information or skills and unique instruction to allow the student to access the core curriculum. Learn more about: Guiding Principles of Concept Development, Community-Based Experiences, Concepts to Teach, Organization & Study, Tactile Graphics Guidelines, Tactile Graphics instruction, Creating Tactile Graphics, Cranmer Abacus Instruction
Communication modes fall under compensatory skills and incorporate skills needed by students who are blind or visually impaired. Some students will need instruction in the braille code to access print as well as handwriting and signature instruction. Additionally, students may require large print, use of optical devices, recorded materials, picture symbols, and more to support access to communication. This section provides information, suggestions, and strategies in instructing persons in these areas. Large Print, Braille Code, Braille Instruction, Braille Instruction Materials, Writing Braille, Creating Tactual Books, Nemeth Braille Code, and Signature & Handwriting
Many students who are blind or visually impaired have multiple disabilities and require a modified curriculum. These students frequently have complex visual and learning needs. It is essential to collaborate with special education teachers and therapists to best support the student and ensure skills and strategies are carried over throughout the day. This section provides resources and strategies for working with students with multiple disabilities. Learn more about: Functional Skills, Individual Schedules & Communication Cards, Transition Between Activities, Lightbox Use, Encourage Use of Vision, Sensory Activities, Teacher Made Materials, and Sensory Areas & Rooms
Students who are blind or have low vision need to acquire a range of Technic skills that will give them options for gathering and conveying information. Instruction in the use and maintenance of Assistive Technology is needed in the curriculum for students with visual impairments. This section provides information on a variety of AT devices as well as strategies for instruction. Learn more about: Overview of Assistive Technology, Braillewriter Repair, AT Resources, Vendors, AT Instruction, iPads as Instructional Tools, Making the iOS Device Accessible Video Magnifier Instruction, Notetaker Instruction, Accessing Audio Books, Navigate Computer w/o a Mouse, Word Processing & Shortcuts, Keyboard Instruction
Sensory efficiency skills include instruction in the use of residual vision, hearing and other senses including the use of tactual, gustatory, and olfactory input to identify one's possessions or use hearing and other senses to identify people. This section provides information on ways to develop sensory efficiency.
Sensory Input, Sensory Table, Visual Efficiency Skills, Visual Attend & Scan Activities, Visual Tracking Activities, Visual Discrimination Activities,
Visual Motor Activities, Optical Device Use Tactual Readiness, Developing Skillful Hands, Auditory Readiness, and Listening Skills Instruction
It is important for the student to develop responsibility and independence to become the most independent and contributing member of their homes and communities that will promote social acceptance. This section provides information on ways to develop these critical skills.
Responsibility & Independence, Hygiene & Grooming, Dressing & Clothing, Mealtime Independence, Housekeeping, Money, Time Management, Food Preparation
Orientation pertains to the students’ ability to get about in their immediate environment. This section provides information on orientation and mobility skills and techniques that are taught to help the student safely and efficiently move throughout their environment.
Career education is an essential area of the Expanded Core Curriculum as it provides the student with visual impairment access to an understanding of careers they may not be aware. It also addresses the vocational skills students need to perform jobs and keep employment.
Social interaction skills must be taught to students with visual impairments because they are unable to casually observe how people interact and socialize with one another. This section provides information on ways to help students develop positive social skills.
Recreation and leisure skills may include traditional as well as adapted physical education activities. This section will provide information on how to provide students with support in this area.
Self-Determination highlights the importance of believing in oneself while understanding one's abilities and limitations. This section provides information on how to help students develop self-determination skills.
Resources to Support You in Teaching Students with Visual Impairments
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The Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC) is the body of knowledge and skills that are needed by students with visual impairments due to their unique disability-specific needs. Students with visual impairments need the expanded core curriculum in addition to the core academic curriculum of general education. The ECC should be used as a framework for assessing students, planning individual goals and providing instruction."
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