Academic journal article Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness

How Students with Visual Impairments Can Learn Components of the Expanded Core Curriculum through Physical Education

Academic journal article Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness

How Students with Visual Impairments Can Learn Components of the Expanded Core Curriculum through Physical Education

Article excerpt

Research indicates that children with visual impairments demonstrate delays in fundamental motor skills, including locomotor, object control, and balance skills (Haibach, Lieberman, & Pritchett, 2011; Houwen, Hartman, & Visscher, 2010; Wagner, Haibach, & Lieberman, 2013). All of these skills are prerequisites to living an independent and successful life. It has been demonstrated that motor activity and balance programs show that significant improvements in these areas are possible (Aki, Turan, & Kayihan, 2007; Jazi, Purrajabi, Movahedi, & Jalali, 2012).

Through quality physical education programs, students with visual impairments can develop the fundamental skills needed to maintain a physically active and healthy lifestyle. According to the IDEIA (2004), physical education is required for all students who qualify for special education. Acquiring skills and engaging in physical activity can increase many important life skills, including components of the expanded core curriculum (ECC).

The field of education has instituted a curricular approach to ensure that children with visual impairments receive the education they need in addition to their core courses. The goal of this approach, the ECC (Sapp & Hatlen, 2010), is for children with visual impairments to leave school with the necessary skills to be independent and self-determined adults. Physical education programs can contribute significantly to instruction of the nine components of the ECC if implemented correctly (Sapp & Hatlen, 2010). Physical education teachers who include meaningful physical activity opportunities in their classes can address recreation as well as all of the other areas, including social skills, orientation and mobility (O&M), self-determination, technology, activities of daily living, and independence (Sapp & Hatlen, 2010). The purpose of the article presented here is to discuss ways in which physical education can contribute to the ECC. It must be understood that in order for physical education teachers to be able to infuse ECC components into physical education classes, it is imperative for them to work in collaboration with other professionals, such as teachers of students with visual impairments and O&M instructors. Teachers of students with visual impairments need to provide access to the curriculum in general education classes, teach ECC areas, and collaborate with physical education teachers. Therefore, it is the intent of this article to provide suggestions to administrators, teachers of students with visual impairments, O&M instructors, and physical education teachers on how to work together to teach the ECC curriculum in all areas of their schools. The article presented here will provide strategies that will foster collaboration among these professionals when teaching the ECC curriculum.


The ECC provides an instructional framework for students with visual impairments to be successful in school, the community, and the workplace (Sapp & Hatlen, 2010). The components of the ECC are typically learned incidentally by sighted children through observing role models visually (Lohmeier, Blankenship, & Hatlen, 2009). Students who have significant visual impairments must be taught these components with direct instruction. These components are: (1) compensatory or access skills, (2) O&M skills, (3) social interaction skills, (4) independent living skills, (5) recreational and leisure skills, (6) career education, (7) use of assistive technology, (8) sensory efficiency skills, and (9) self-determination skills.

According to Sapp and Hatlen (2010), ECC components should be taught by certified teachers of students with visual impairments and O&M specialists. Yet teachers of students with visual impairments spend the majority of their time on academics, teaching communication skills, and tutoring (Wolffe et al., 2002). Further, the level and amount of instructional time spent on ECC components are not as intense as one may anticipate (Wolffe et al. …

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