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In order to meet the educational needs of the students at TSBVI, curriculum content and methodology have been modified to meet the needs of different student populations. Modifications are embodied in these five curricular approaches.

The Five Curricular Curricular Approaches at TSBVI

1. Early Concepts
2. Basic Skills
3. Functional Academics
4. Applied Academics
5. Academics

The Core Curriculum

Support for Curriculum Programming


1. Early Concepts

This curriculum is written for students younger than 12 years of age who have visual impairments and are not yet reading, writing, and doing math at a first grade level. Many of these students have mild to significant delays in areas such as cognition, motor, speech/language, and emotional development. These students may also have orthopedic, sensory, or other health impairments.

Programming consists of thematic units that include meaningful experiences to help students build an effective framework for processing new information and understanding how it relates to their world.

Basic self-help skills, such as eating, dressing, and housekeeping are taught within activity routines. Real objects are used whenever possible, unless specific skills in representation are being taught; and activities are meaningful and at the appropriate level of the student.

  • Units with goals, objectives, and activities in areas related to the students’ lives based on the following themes:
    • Animals
    • Community Helpers
    • Cycles
    • Environment
    • Happy, Healthy Me
    • Holidays
    • Others
    • Recreation
    • Safety
    • Self
    • Tools
    • Transportation
    • Where I Live
    • Work
  • Infused skills in:
    • Cognition
    • Communication
    • Sensory and Motor Activities
    • Readiness
    • Work
    • Music
    • Concept words
    • Assessment and Ongoing Evaluation Booklet

2. Basic Skills

Basic Skills for Community Living TSBVI publication

This curriculum is intended for students who are between the ages of 6 and 22 who have visual impairments combined with other disabilities, such as hearing impairments (deafblind) and significant developmental delays. It is particularly designed for students who learn best within highly structured routines and who have great difficulty generalizing what they learn to new situations. Social/emotional development and communication skills are a significant component of this program.

The primary instructional approach uses consistent activity routines to teach those functional activities which parents, residential instructors and the educational team have identified as areas of need. Developmental skills are identified and taught within the context of these routines. This program is committed to community based instruction.

  • Functional activities from the domestic, recreation/leisure, and vocational domains
  • Developmental skills in:
    • Social competence
    • Social Interactions
    • Emotional Development
    • Organization
    • Senses and Motor Skills
    • Basic Concepts
    • Representation
  • Tools for assessment and developing the IEP
  • Information about assessment, planning instruction, and effective teaching strategies for career education, leisure and recreation, communication, calendars, social skills, and behavior management.

3. Functional Academics

This curriculum is intended for students who are 12 years of age or older. Generally the students have reading and math skills between the kindergarten and second grade levels and have demonstrated limited ability to learn within a developmental or academic approach.

The focus of this program is teaching students how to use their academic skills in a variety of functional tasks and, whenever possible, to develop and improve those skills. Social skills and independent living skills are an important component of this program. Students may be taught in the classroom, residence, or community, depending upon the individual needs and abilities of the students.

  • Skills in:
    • Functional Reading and Writing
    • Mathematics Applications
    • Social Skills and Personal Knowledge
    • Domestic Skills
    • Recreation and Leisure
    • Career Education
  • Thematic units in social studies and science as related to Knowledge of the World
  • Assessment and evaluation instruments

4. Applied Academics

This curriculum is designed for students who are more than two grade levels below their chronological level. The knowledge and skills taught are those deemed essential for adult living in the community. Skills are taught in practical applications with a focus on career education skills needed for employability.

Secondary-age students should be able to read at the third grade level or higher and should be able to generalize what they learn to different settings. Courses at this level are offered for local school credit.

  • Skills at levels K-9 in:
    • Language Arts
    • Mathematics
    • Science
    • Social Studies
    • Home Economics
    • Career Education
    • Compensatory Skills
    • Physical Education
    • Fine Arts
  • Recommended strategies, adaptations, and materials
  • Assessment and ongoing evaluation

5. Academics

This program is the regular K—12 curriculum which includes the essential knowledge and skills required by the state of Texas. This curriculum is divided into courses which have the same titles, content, and requirements as regular public school courses for nondisabled students. They also contain skills and adaptations which address the needs of students who are visually impaired. Students who are not more than two years below their grade levels may take these courses.

Whenever possible, these courses will be taken at the Austin Independent School District, especially at the high school level

  • Skills in:
    • Language Arts
    • Mathematics
    • Science
    • Social Studies
    • Home Economics
    • Career Education
    • Compensatory Skills
    • Physical Education
    • Fine Arts
  • Recommended strategies, adaptations, and materials for each subject

While most students will work with only one of the five approaches, a student may benefit from parts of another. No student will be limited to or "tracked" in any one approach.

If, at any time, it is determined that a student would be better served by using a different approach, the educational team can make a change.


The Core Curriculum

TSBVI has adopted the Core Curriculum for Blind and Visually Impaired Students as developed by the National Agenda. In doing so it has committed itself to offering instruction in the following.

Compensatory academic skills include such learning experiences as concept development, spatial understanding, listening skills, and adaptations necessary for reading and writing or other means of communication.

Orientation and mobility is a vital area of learning. Students learn about themselves and the environment in which they move—from basic body image to independent travel in busy cities.

Social interaction skills are taught carefully, consciously, and sequentially since blind and visually impaired students do not learn these skills casually or incidentally.

Daily living skills consist of all the tasks and functions persons perform, in accordance with their abilities, in order to lead lives as independently as possible. They include, but are not limited to, skills in personal hygiene, food preparation, money management, time monitoring, and organization.

Recreation and leisure skills are taught so that students can develop a repertoire of enjoyable activities that carry into their adult lives. The teaching of these skills is carefully planned and deliberately taught.

Career education prepares students for adult life with a basic knowledge of the world of work and the opportunity to learn marketable skills. Students explore their own strengths and interests in a systematic, well-planned manner.

Technology expands the horizons of students. It allows students to give feed-back to teachers, parents, and peers, and store a wide array of personal data for easy retrieval.

Visual efficiency skills are taught so that students learn to utilize their functional vision. Functional vision assessments, planning for appropriate learning activities, and instruction in the use of vision in effective and efficient ways are integral parts.


Support for Curriculum Programming

The materials were developed by TSBVI, focus on specific content, and can be used as appropriate with the five approaches: