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ECC at Perkins: Mastering the skills of everyday life

Independent living skills allow students to accomplish essential daily tasks, including cooking, cleaning and looking good.

Secondary student Brian uses an electric razor to shave. It's one of many everyday tasks children and young adults who are blind must be explicitly taught.

Independent living is one of nine life skills kids with visual impairments and multiple disabilities learn through the Expanded Core Curriculum at Perkins. This area of focus includes the tasks and functions people perform in daily life to optimize their independence — skills such as personal hygiene, food preparation, money management and household chores.

Below, we unpack what it means to teach independent living skills, and why these skills are such a critical component of the Expanded Core Curriculum.

Why are independent living skills so important?

Because children who are blind don’t typically learn the same way sighted children do – most notably, through casual observation at home – many everyday tasks must be explicitly taught. For example, a sighted child might learn to pour themselves a drink by watching their parents do it (even if their first few tries result in big spills). A child with a vision impairment, though, doesn’t always get that same observational experience. So they’d need to be taught explicitly how to pour the drink.

And, of course, pouring a drink is just one example. Nearly everything we do throughout the day can be considered an independent living skill.

How are independent living skills taught?

What is the Expanded Core Curriculum?

The Expanded Core Curriculum is built of of nine life skills Perkins students with visual impairments, deafblindness and additional disabilities learn on top of their core academics. It covers everything from using technology to independent living to socializing with peers — knowledge most sighted children acquire by observing everyday life. The Expanded Core Curriculum gives students who are blind, deafblind and have additional disabilities a toolbox of crucial skills they need to succeed at school, in social situations, at home, on the job and everywhere else.

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Slater, who is deafblind, types an email to her Aunt Lori. Photo Credit: Anna Miller
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