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Independent living: Skill-building for a foundation of independence

For students with visual impairment and other disabilities, "daily living skills" are foundational to becoming successful, capable adults.

Independent living skills are foundational to students’ development into successful, capable adults. These skills are often referred to as “daily living skills” and include eating, dressing and hygiene. As students get older, they may be ready to learn more advanced skills, such as cooking and cleaning. Students with visual impairments (and other disabilities) miss out on incidental learning that comes naturally to their sighted peers; they must acquire these skills through direct, sequential instruction. 

Families and school teams must target skills to work on to maximize the student’s independence at home, in the community and if applicable, in the workplace. Once these areas have been identified, explore and discover which adaptations and techniques may be most appropriate. 

Students who may not be able to physically develop independence in all activities, may focus on learning to provide direction to a caregiver or personal care attendant. All students should be encouraged to be as independent as possible and to participate as actively as possible in all routine events, so that these skills can develop in the natural context with repeated practice in the environment. 

Skill progression  

What does progress look like in building these skills? These are some steps you can take to develop experience and create confidence in your student:

Resources and assessments

These resources will provide additional insight into building independent living skills:

Here are some examples of assessments we use at Perkins.  The standardized assessments are not normed for students who are visually impaired. 

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