Orientation and Mobility for CVI

The Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC) for Students with CVI

What is an Expanded Core Curriculum?

Years ago, students with visual impairments were educated in separate schools for the blind. Curriculum needs addressed everything for the student with a visual impairment both academic areas and specialized instruction that provided students with all skills to insure full independence in life. Students often lived at the school and instruction occurred across the day: self-care, moving safely in the environment, using transportation, safety awareness, social skills and recreation opportunities were embedded.

The education model shifted in the 1980s and students with visual impairments increasingly moved to inclusive programs in their communities. These inclusive programs could address the academic needs of students with visual impairments when adapted by a teacher of students with visual impairments. Something was missing. At the inclusive setting, inclusive schools were unprepared to address the other important learning needs for children with visual impairments. They never had to address these important areas because students without vision loss learn these skills incidentally by watching.

The Expand Core Curriculum is an essential consideration for all children with visual impairments including children with CVI. The nine areas of the Expanded Core Curriculum, if they are considered at all, are often mistakenly considered only for the academic child with ocular visual impairments.

Inclusive school settings teach the general education curriculum of math, science, English language arts, foreign language, gym, science, social studies and fine arts to their students. For students with visual impairments, the expanded core curriculum provides those essential independence skills needed for living and working. The expanded core curriculum is meant to level the educational playing field by providing instruction specific to the needs of a child with a visual impairment.

The expanded core curriculum, or ECC, should be used as a framework for first assessing students with visual impairments, then for planning individual goals and objectives.

The nine ECC areas that provide this specific instruction include.

  • Compensatory or functional academic skills, including communication modes
  • Orientation and mobility
  • Social interaction skills
  • Independent living skills
  • Recreation and leisure skills
  • Career education
  • Use of assistive technology
  • Sensory efficiency skills
  • Self-determination

Are these considered on your child’s IEP? We will look at each a bit more in-depth in later posts.

Environmental Support for Mobility

My student with CVI was assessed for his CVI.  Results assessed him with these needs:

  • Red is the color he attends to faster and sustains to longer. He sees this color at greater distances than other colors. Other colors are also accessible with a slight delay. If he has experience with a toy and loves it, he searches for that toy by its color (color is used for recognition not shape).
  • Motion is important to gain his visual attention.
  • His ability to locate items in the environment requires extra times to locate and to understand what he is looking at.
  • Light is important to his visual attention
  • He locates familiar items faster than new items.
  • His best visual field is his left at eye level: He finds things faster, looks longer and sees things at greater distances on this side at this viewing plane. He places materials in this visual field at eye level if I hand him an item.
  • He locates things best between 3-5 feet away but does not necessarily understand what they are.
  • He finds items against plain backgrounds but struggles to locate or understand materials against complex backgrounds.

For moving through the school, the O&M specialist created visual landmarks for these needs:

arrow to class

  • The arrow was large, red and shiny (shiny looks like movement as it captures the light).
  • Locating the arrow was practiced again and again several times per day in his better left visual field at 3-5 feet at eye level.
  • The arrow was placed in a non-complex area of the school wall at a turn indicating “turn here” to go back to class.

After 2 months, my student sees this familiar, highlighted travel cue at greater distances, in both visual fields and uses this to travel back and forth to buy his snack daily.