What is the Expanded Core Curriculum?

Susan LaVentureAre you familiar with the term “Expanded Core Curriculum” (ECC) or know what it means? It refers to the non-academic subject areas that students who are blind need to learn in order to become independent and successful:

  • Social Interaction Skills
  • Orientation and Mobility Skills
  • Independent Living Skills
  • Recreation and Leisure Skills
  • Assistive Technology
  • Sensory Efficiency
  • Career Education
  • Self-Determination
  • Compensatory Skills

The special education law IDEA in the United States does not require all of these ECC subjects to be taught along with the traditional academic curriculum. Although academics are important, these skills are what make a person successful in life. Learning social skills will help your child interact in with his or her peers at school and in the neighborhood or in the workplace. And it is exciting and fun for families when children participate in sports and recreation, or learn how to cook their own meals and join in with doing household chores.

The concept of ECC was written and developed by Phil Hatlen, one of the greatest leaders in the blindness education field and since then the entire blindness field has agreed on how important these skills are for blind students to master in order to lead productive lives. So much so that the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) and Perkins School for the Blind have launched a new website forum, www.ECCadvocacy.org and national advocacy effort to promote the inclusion of ECC into the next re-authorization of IDEA.

As parents you may or may not have heard of this concept, and you need to know so that you can advocate for educational resources for your child. As parents we can become a positive resource for the schools. It’s important for you to know that your child can have an active and productive life.

Further information about ECC can be found here on FamilyConnect.org and the AFB and Perkins School for the Blind websites.