[blindkid] Incorporating the Expanded Core Curriculum into thelives of visually impaired children at home

Arielle Silverman arielle71 at gmail.com
Sun May 17 21:58:49 UTC 2015

Hi all. Yeah, the ECC has always bothered me for the reasons others
have described. While I do think it is a well-intended way to promote
integration and independence for blind kids, the idea of blindness as
deficit that it promotes actually feeds into the very custodialism
that stunts blind children's independence in the first place. In
particular, I wish there wasn't so much emphasis on the things that
blind kids "cannot" observe, and instead, more attention to the kinds
of things we do naturally observe. The blind kids and adults I know
are not passive beings who need to be fed all their knowledge of the
world by sighted translators. They are curious, inquisitive,
intelligent people who are actively processing a lot of auditory and
tactile information, who are sensitive to natural consequences of
their behavior, incentives and desire approval from their parents and
teachers, etc. We learn a ton about socialization, career prospects,
and many other things by listening to conversations around us, and by
trial and error. Yes kids need guidance to turn their observations of
the world into concrete knowledge and to build sound judgment, but
that goes for all kids. Most of the things on the ECC are things that
sighted children also need to be taught. As I've stated in the past
here, I also have some beefs with the social skills component of the
ECC. I think the social skills they emphasize tend to be ones that our
culture values such as gregariousness, charisma and leadership, but
there are other skills, like empathy and trust-building, that are more
important for maintaining quality relationships. In fact, many
sociopaths and corrupt leaders (think Hitler) are so destructive
precisely because they have such good "social skills". The skills of
empathy, respect, trust-building, etc. can be learned through
listening and sharing in conversation with others and don't have to be
learned visually. There are some alternative techniques blind people
need to master for handling social situations, such as knowing how to
start or enter a conversation without using eye contact or how to find
out what's going on in a room. These skills may need to be taught at
first, but I don't think a school setting is the best place for that,
and blind mentors are undoubtedly the best experts on these kinds of
alternative techniques. Further, as someone who was subject to an IEP
with a social skills component, I can say that I think it is not a
good idea to grade a child on skills for which there is not an
objective standard. I experienced self-esteem difficulties for several
years in childhood which I think came from being labeled within my
school as having poor social skills. TVI's can facilitate the social
skills learning by introducing the family to blind role models and
facilitating opportunities for the child to play with other kids and
get natural feedback on their behavior (especially blind kids, who can
often be the bluntest critics). That said, if other parents on the
list have differing experiences, I'd be interested to hear them.

On 5/17/15, Marianne Denning via blindkid <blindkid at nfbnet.org> wrote:
> I agree with this and will gladly help in any way possible.
> On 5/17/15, Carol Castellano via blindkid <blindkid at nfbnet.org> wrote:
>> So maybe it's time for a new document to be
>> created by a REAL grassroots movement!
>> Another soapbox warning:
>> I can believe that this document was created with
>> good intentions.  But I think it also came out of
>> two less good intentions--first, out of the old
>> custodial views of blindness and the view that
>> professionals were the only ones who had the
>> secret knowledge of how to teach blind people;
>> and second, out of self-preservation for the
>> field.  I think the creation of the document (and
>> the whole "National Agenda") took place at a time
>> when the inclusion movement was gaining momentum
>> and threatening schools for the blind and also
>> when subsidies for educating TVIs were being cut
>> at the national level.  There was concern that
>> there would not be enough TVIs and that the
>> pressure for inclusion would eliminate the category as a specialty.
>> I think a historic influence that was a major
>> part of the development of the professional
>> blindness field was that initially it was mostly
>> about teaching newly blinded adults the skills to
>> continue to live life.  There wasn't so much (or
>> at all) a family component, as there would be
>> with teaching children.  So the field and its
>> practices developed in terms of working directly
>> with and only with the blind client, rather than
>> thinking about empowering parents or family
>> members.  Thinking of parents as the natural and
>> logical people to teach independent living,
>> recreation, and career skills, on the other hand,
>> is a direct outgrowth of the NFB and our
>> self-help view and our position that blind people
>> are the experts at blindness.  This is one of the
>> ways in which our organization differs with others in the field.
>> Okay, let me climb down now.
>> Carol
>> At 11:14 AM 5/17/2015, you wrote:
>>>I too could go on & on about the ECC (& have),
>>>as it virtually completely ignores the role of
>>>the parent & blind mentors in achieving the
>>>proposed goals of independence. References to
>>>parents on the various websites that discuss the
>>>ECC (TSVBI, AFB, Perkins, etc) are limited a one
>>>line or so token acknowledgement to not forget
>>>that parents are “part of the team† ­ more
>>>of a footnote or remiinder for TVIs, importantly
>>>without the appropriate emphasis on the critical
>>>role of parents, family, local community & blind
>>>mentors. The various sites above that discuss
>>>the ECC refer over & over to “the student† ­
>>>even  the Family Connect website refers more to
>>>student & the role of the TVI in addressing ECC.
>>>The ECC in its current form should really more
>>>appropriately be called something along the
>>>lines of “The TVIs Theoretical Guide to the
>>>ECC for Blind/VI Students.† From what I
>>>gather, the ECC was put together by a TVI with
>>>good intentions (
>>>after coming to the awareness that blind kids
>>>were graduating from high school with the
>>>academic accomplishments, but not the real life
>>>skills needed to make it in the real world
>>>(unfortunately still a very real issue). My
>>>understanding is that the proposed
>>>“curriculum† was really geared towards
>>>increasing TVI awareness that the focus of
>>>reaching independence for a blind child/student
>>>needs to expand beyond just the academic
>>>curriculum (this is a good thing ­ though
>>>probably obvious to every parent on thhis
>>>listserv). The ECC is often described as a
>>>“grass roots movement†. I have been aware of
>>>it for over a decade & a half, & from what I
>>>have seen, it has remained the same static
>>>document with unfortunately little evolution.
>>>The ECC seems to be gathering increased
>>>acknowledgement & acceptance at the level of the
>>>TVIs in California, though few general ed
>>>educators are aware of it. (Disclaimer: the
>>>following is not likely to apply to most of the
>>>TVIs, O&Ms, & other blindness educators on this
>>>listserv, but is more of a global generalization
>>>based on my observations in many forums over the
>>>years). My observation is that when the ECC
>>>comes up TVI conferences there is a general
>>>tendency for TVIs to assume its all up to them;
>>>I often get the sense that they either seem to
>>>feel & a number will even state that parents
>>>“don't get it† & don't possess the skillsets
>>>have a significant impact on their child’s
>>>independence. At the same time they will
>>>complain that there is just not enough time to
>>>address everything. I’m going to wrap it up as
>>>I can tell I’ve headed into soapbox territory.
>>>Final thought: Like it or not, the ECC does seem
>>>to be gathering traction in the TVI world; if it
>>>is going to be used as a guide to be implemented
>>>it needs to be reshaped & frankly rewritten to
>>>not only include the TVI teacher prospective,
>>>but critically the parent & blind community
>>>perspectives. Sincerely, An Involved Parent of 2
>>>Blind kids with High Expectations On Sun, May
>>>17, 2015 at 7:29 AM, Marianne Denning via
>>>blindkid < blindkid at nfbnet.org> wrote: > Carol,
>>>I tell all of my families about NFB and the
>>>parents' > organization.  I also strongly
>>>recommend your book because I know it > is the
>>>truth.  Mom had the NFB philosophy when she was
>>>raising me even > though I doubt she ever heard
>>>of the NFB. I am also a TVI who sets the > bar
>>>very high for all of my students.  I have helped
>>>change a few > parents' opinions about their
>>>child's abilities. But there is so much > to
>>>do.  I think the expanded core curriculum is
>>>professionals trying > to answer a problem they
>>>have noticed for many years.  I love your >
>>>ideas for changing the wording.  I don't think
>>>of braille as a > compensatory skill.  It is how
>>>I read the written word. > > On 5/17/15, Carol
>>>Castellano via blindkid <blindkid at nfbnet.org>
>>>wrote: > > Yes and this is why it's so important
>>>for parents to find us and see > > role
>>>models.  First comes the awareness that these
>>>things can be > > done, then the expectations
>>>get raised, then people learn how. > > > >
>>>Carol > > > > At 07:55 PM 5/16/2015, you
>>>wrote: > >>Hi Marianne this is a good point.  I
>>>can't believe that some parents > >>just won't
>>>teach independent living skills at home.  I
>>>understand > >>that some of them probably don't
>>>know what to teach their
>>>children. > >> > >>______________________________
>>>_________________ > >>blindkid mailing
>>>list > >>blindkid at nfbnet.org > >>http://nfbnet.or
>>>g/mailman/listinfo/blindkid_nfbnet.org > >>To
>>>unsubscribe, change your list options or get
>>>your account info > >>for blindkid: > >> >
>>> > > > > Carol Castellano > > Parents of Blind
>>>Children-NJ > > Director of Programs > >
>>>National Organization of Parents of Blind
>>>Children > > 973-377-0976 > >
>>>carol_castellano at verizon.net > >
>>>www.blindchildren.org > >
>>>www.nopbc.org > > > > > >
>>>_______________________________________________ >
>>>  > blindkid mailing list > >
>>>blindkid at nfbnet.org > >
>>> > > To unsubscribe, change your list options or
>>>get your account info for > > blindkid: > > >
>>> > > > > > -- > Marianne Denning, TVI, MA >
>>>Teacher of students who are blind or visually
>>>impaired > (513) 607-6053 > >
>>>_______________________________________________ >
>>>  blindkid mailing list > blindkid at nfbnet.org >
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>>> >
>>>blindkid mailing list blindkid at nfbnet.org
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>> Carol Castellano
>> Parents of Blind Children-NJ
>> Director of Programs
>> National Organization of Parents of Blind Children
>> 973-377-0976
>> carol_castellano at verizon.net
>> www.blindchildren.org
>> www.nopbc.org
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>> blindkid:
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> --
> Marianne Denning, TVI, MA
> Teacher of students who are blind or visually impaired
> (513) 607-6053
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