Expanded Core Curriculum

Compensatory and Functional Academic Skills

These are skills needed to access the regular curriculum presented in the regular classroom (i.e., compensatory skills), skills needed by students with multiple disabilities to enhance their ability to participate in home (i.e., functional skills), school and community, and an array of communication skills. “Communication needs of students with visual impairments will vary depending on the degree of functional vision, the effects of additional disabilities and the task to be done. Students may communicate through braille, large print, print with the use of optical aids, regular print, tactile books, a calendar system, sign language, recorded materials or combinations of these means.” (Hatlen, 1996) Examples of other compensatory or functional academic skill areas might include concept development, spatial awareness, keyboarding skills, listening skills, organizational skills, use of the abacus, or tactile discrimination skills. The acquisition of everyday concepts and practical knowledge usually acquired through incidental learning by students who are sighted requires specific instruction for students who are blind or visually impaired to ensure they are building their knowledge base on accurate information.

Taken from:
Alberta Education. Special Programs Branch. (2006).  Appendix A of Essential Components of Educational Programming for Students who are Blind or Visually Impaired.

Workshop materials from a previously held Alberta Workshops:

Unified English Braille Technical Materials Webinar Series

     1. General principles, Numbers and Abbreviations, Signs of Operation, Comparison and Omission

     2. Functions, Set Theory and Logic, Miscellaneous Symbols, Bars and Dots, Arrows

     3. Shapes, Matrices and Vectors, Chemistry and Computer Notation

Handouts from Thoughtful Choices: Literacy Instruction for Beginning Readers who use Braille or Dual Media:

  1. Agenda and Objectives
  2. Handout List Revised
  3. ABC Braille Study Quiz
  4. Planning Sheet for Guided Reading Revision 2
  5. Planning Sheet for Analyzing Writing Samples
  6. Student Writing Samples - Screen Shots
  7. Blooming Orange
  8. Snow Day Worksheet
  9. Ant City Worksheet
  10. Leaf Logic Worksheet

Additional Links:

Paths to Literacy

A joint project between the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired and the Perkins School for the Blind, this site is an excellent resource pertaining to all aspects of literacy as a compensatory skill: Emergent Literacy, Braille, Students with Multiple Disabilities, Dual Media, Math Literacy, Learning Media Assessments and more.  

Compensatory Skills

Pre-Braille Skills and Braille Literacy

California Braille Reading Standards
The California Board of Education braille reading standards (organized by Grade level).

Braille Reference Desk
A link to the ‘Braille Reference Desk’ site.  This site contains links to braille codebooks, braille rules, typical problem words and also contains a feature that will correctly contract any word that is entered. 

Braille Literacy
An article about literacy and the Learning Media Assessment from the Texas School for the Blind’s website.

Wikkistix are a great tool for developing pre-braille skills such as tracking and tactile sensitivity.

A link to the ‘Braille Bug’ site from the American Foundation for the Blind.  This site is a great resource for both parents and teachers who have a braille-using student in their classroom. 

Story Boxes
An explanation of story boxes: how to create them and use them. 

Essential Literacy Experiences for Children with VI
An article on the TSBVI website that describes how to individualize and add meaning to the literacy experiences of children who are visually impaired.

Braille Authority of North America
The website for the Braille Authority of North America (BANA). 

TSBVI Braille Resources
The Texas School for the Blind’s list of braille instructional resources.

International Council on English Braille
The website for the International Council on English Braille (ICEB).

Move, Touch, Read
An article about emergent braille literacy entitled ‘Move, Touch, Read’ on the Texas School for the Blind’s website.

A link to the Seedlings website.  They offer a wide variety of low-cost braille children’s books.

Perkins School Braille and Talking Book Library
A link to the Perkins Braille and Talking Book Library.

Pre-Braille Skills
The TSBVI's list of suggested motor activities to encourage pre-braille skills.

APH Guide to Designing Tactile Illustrations for Children’s Books

A Guide to Designing Tactile Illustrations for Children's Books by Suzette Wright, American Printing House for the Blind is an excellent resource for producing tactile graphics.  Whether you are a teacher, transcriber, or caregiver of a child with a visual impairment, this guide is intended to help you learn more about  the role of illustrations—both visual and tactile—in books for a young child,  challenges and limitations of tactile illustrations,  factors that contribute to well-designed tactile illustrations, considerations that must be addressed in order to design meaningful tactile illustrations, information supporting an overall sequence of difficulty for various types of tactile illustrations, types of tactile illustrations and the tools and materials needed to create them 

Functional Academic Skills

Functional Literacy and Communication Systems

TSBVI Tactile Symbols
A link on the Texas School for the Blind’s website to an image catalogue containing tactile communication symbols for students with multiple disabilities.

TSBVI Creating Tactile Symbols
A guide to creating tactile symbols for use with students who are unable to learn braille.

TSBVI Functional Tactual Skills
A link to the article “Feelin’ Groovy: Functional Tactual Skills” on the Texas School for the Blind’s website.  This article describes strategies on how to facilitate the development of functional tactual skills in children with visual impairments and multiple disabilities.

A link to Dr. Lilli Nielsen’s home page.  Dr. Nielsen advocates the use of specialized equipment in order to promote active learning in children with visual and multiple disabilities. 

Let Me Check My Calendar: A Guide to Using Calendar Systems
An article that details what a calendar system is and when/why you would use one.  The article also describes the various types of calendar systems and how to set them up.