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Getting Organized: Helping Students with Visual Impairments Learn Organization Skills

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Excerpted from Chapter 16, "Independent Living Skills" in Volume 2 of Foundations of Education, written by Pat Kelley and Pat Smith

Organization is key to the development of independent living skills and should be taught from an early age. Unless students have it modeled or presented directly to them, they may not understand how the world is organized. Since a child with a visual impairment cannot scan a room to locate an object, organization is an essential skill. The following are some suggestions for teaching organizational skills in the home.

  • Encourage the student to retrieve and replace toys from the storage area, such as a toy box, starting at an early age. Verbal suggestions may be given on how to organize the toys more safely or efficiently, but the child, not the adult, should be the one to arrange the play area and place materials.
  • Teach the student to arrange objects for maximum effectiveness and efficiency. Adequate storage space and consistent locations for items help the student to do so.
  • Establish routines within the day (such as consistent meal and sleep times and a routine for bathing and brushing teeth before bedtime).
  • Have the student share some responsibilities at home (for example, participating in cleaning, taking out the trash, and setting the table).

Organizational Skills in the Community

Organizational skills extend outside the home. Here are suggestions to give students to help them learn organizational skills in the community:

  • Keep a file (notebook or data disk) with information on ordering and repairing materials (like canes, braillers, and adaptive devices).
  • Keep a file on important telephone numbers.
  • Keep bus and transportation schedules in one place.
  • Ask the location and nearest major cross street when calling a business for directions.
  • Make a list of needed items before going shopping and take the list to the store.

For more information on teaching independent living skills to students, check out Chapter 16 of Volume 2 of Foundations of Education, available at www.afb.org/store.

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