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The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) and the Perkins School for the Blind have joined forces to ensure the Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC) is taught in mainstream schools.

The groups will be undertaking an aggressive education effort to include the ECC in the reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the law that guarantees services to children with disabilities throughout the country. IDEA is scheduled to be up for reauthorization in the coming months.

As part of the campaign, AFB and Perkins have launched a new advocacy website (www.ECCAdvocacy.org) that will host online discussion forums on issues related to ECC and provide links to online resources. The site will serve as the central point for dissemination of information on the campaign, and will give readers information on how to support this key effort.

"At Perkins, we are reminded every day just how life-changing it is to teach students with visual impairments everything from how to use technology, to how to get around, to how to interact socially with friends," said Steven M. Rothstein, President of Perkins School for the Blind. "Sighted children learn these skills through visual cues and mirroring, but children with visual impairments need to be taught these skills through other methods."

The expanded core curriculum has been taught in Schools for the Blind for decades, but is not fully incorporated into the curriculum in mainstream schools. It combines the general core curriculum for all students with a specialized program designed to meet the disability-specific needs of students with visual impairments. The areas it covers 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

"We are determined to make sure all children with visual impairments have access to the same opportunities as their sighted peers, and have the tools and knowledge necessary to thrive in the classroom, the workforce and everyday life," said Carl R. Augusto, President & CEO of the American Foundation for the Blind. "The ECC has been developed and supported by the field and taught in Schools for the Blind for many years; it is time to make sure all students who are blind or visually impaired are taught these crucial skills."

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About American Foundation for the Blind

The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) is a national nonprofit that expands possibilities for people with vision loss. AFB's priorities include broadening access to technology; elevating the quality of information and tools for the professionals who serve people with vision loss; and promoting independent and healthy living for people with vision loss by providing them and their families with relevant and timely resources. Through AFB Press, the leading publisher in the field of blindness and visual impairment, AFB produces and distributes books, journals, videos, and electronic materials, offering a wide range of information for students, professionals, researchers, and blind and visually impaired people and their families. AFB is also proud to house the Helen Keller Archives and honor the more than forty years that Helen Keller worked tirelessly with AFB. For more information visit us online at www.afb.org.

About Perkins School for the Blind

Perkins School for the Blind, the nation's first school for the visually impaired, provides education and services to help build productive, meaningful lives for 115,000 children and adults who are blind, deafblind, including those with additional disabilities in the U.S. and 64 countries worldwide. Founded in 1829, Perkins pursues this mission on campus, in the community and around the world. Learn more online at www.Perkins.org.