What Is the Expanded Core Curriculum?

Children who are blind or visually impaired need to study the same basic academic subjects that sighted children do, from how to tell time to how to write a persuasive essay. But in order to master these subjects (often known as the "core curriculum") and complete their schoolwork—as well as to eventually live and work independently—children who are visually impaired usually need to learn an additional set of skills known as the "expanded core curriculum." They are sometimes also referred to as "disability-specific skills" or "vision-related skills" because they are useful specifically for individuals who are visually impaired. They may include activities such as

  • using braille to read and write, instead of reading printed books or using a pencil and paper to write
  • learning how to move about in the environment safely and independently, which is known as orientation and mobility (O&M)
  • knowing how to use specialized computer equipment and other technology devices designed for children with visual impairments
  • learning how to use what vision they have effectively and efficiently

The classroom teacher is responsible for teaching children the basic academic curriculum. But because the expanded core curriculum covers the unique, specialized needs of visually impaired students, the subjects included within it have to be taught by a teacher who specializes in working with students who have visual impairments. This teacher is a pivotal member of the educational team that works with a child who is blind or visually impaired.