Photo shows two students smiling and in conversation with one another.

Learning a language can open avenues to new perspectives, cultures, and communication. The process of acquiring a language can also build learning skills such as listening and viewing with intent, non-verbal cues, and exploration of identity.

The BC K-12 Languages Curriculum aims to ensure that students understand the inherent connection between language and culture and seeks to build empathy, understanding, and identity through the acquisition of an additional language.

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Check out the Languages Curriculum category in #Outreaching - the blog of the PRCVI Outreach Team.

Languages - Students with Visual Impairments

Language instruction can often depend heavily on visual supports such as flashcards and pictures. It is important that students with visual impairments have access to these through real-life objects (realia). Teaching strategies that do not rely on pictures, such as Total Physical Response, can be useful teaching strategies for all students, including those with visual impairments (Milian & Conroy, 2001).

Examples of Adaptations for Languages

  • Using real objects (realia) instead of pictures for vocabulary development and discussion prompts.
  • Provide descriptions and previewing for videos being used in the language class.
  • Ensure assessments are accessible both in material used (e.g., nonvisual) and questions.

Connections to the Expanded Core Curriculum

Knowledge and skill development in the Core and Expanded Core Curricula are mutually reinforcing and together enrich student learning. Below are examples of connections between Languages and the ECC. 

Social Interaction Skills

  • Students practice communicating in social scenarios in the language they are learning.
  • Students learn about how other cultures are similar or different from their own culture.

Recreation and Leisure

  • Students use games and classroom activities to practice and enhance their language learning.
  • Students learn about and discuss a variety of leisure and recreational activities in the language they are learning.
  • Writing a set of rules for an activity so a peer can learn the activity in the given language. 

Orientation and Mobility

  • Using language-learning techniques such as Total Physical Response to learn objects names, position concepts, and environmental directions (Milian & Conroy, 2001).
  • Incorporating O&M considerations into planning a trip to a country where the language being learned is used (e.g., will crossing streets be different, how does the transit system work).
  • Using translation apps to read road and safety signage written in another language.

Resources to Support Instruction

PRCVI Library Catalogue

Milian, M. (1997). Chapter 6: Teaching Braille Reading and Writing to Students Who Speak English As a Second Language. In Wormsley, D. P. & D’Andrea, F. M. Instructional Strategies for Braille Literacy (pp. 189-230). New York, NY: AFB Press.
Chapter devoted to teaching braille reading and writing to students acquiring English as an additional language, including sections on considerations for teaching the braille code to speakers of a particular language. 
Milian, M. (2012). Chapter 10: Listening Guidelines for English Language Learners. In Barclay, L. A. Learning to listen/listening to learn: Teaching listening skills to students with visual impairments. pp. 454-480. New York, NY: AFB Press.
Considerations for those learning English as an additional language, including strategies for listening comprehension, active listening, and assessing proficiency levels. 
Milian, M. & Conroy, P. (2001). Providing Professional Services to Individuals Who Speak English as a Second Language. In Milian, M. & Erin, J. N. (eds). Diversity and visual impairment: The influence of race, gender, religion, and ethnicity on the individual. pp. 343-381. New York, NY: AFB Press.
Professional resource on how visual impairment may be viewed and experienced through a number of different lenses, so of which are connected to linguistic/cultural identity. 

Web-Based Resources

Lewin-Jones, J., & Hodgson, J. (2004). Differentiation strategies relating to the inclusion of a student with a severe visual impairment in higher education (modern foreign languages). British Journal of Visual Impairment22(1), 32-36.
Case study of a visually impaired student taking a German course at the post-secondary level and the collaborative work of the languages teacher and the TSVI.
Milian, M., & Pearson, V. (2005). Students with visual impairments in a dual-language program: A case study.Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness,99(11), 715-720.
Case study of two visually impaired students in a dual-language school in Colorado focused on the relative contributions of the various members of the educational team.
Mobaraki, M., Nazarloo, S. A., & Toosheh, E. (2017). A comparative analysis of contracted versus alphabetical English braille and attitudes of English as a foreign language learners: A case study of a Farsi-speaking visually impaired student.Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness111(5), 471-474.
Research report examining the oral reading fluency of a Farsi-speaking student learning braille reading in English, finding a small advantage to contracted braille for reading fluency and spelling accuracy. 
Muñoz, M. L. Second language acquisition and children with visual and hearing impairments. Retrieved from:
Article from TSBVI on additional language acquisition for students with deafblindness with suggestions for educators. 
Paths to Literacy (n.d.). English Language Learners. Retrieved from
Landing page on the Paths to Literacy site for all blog posts related to students learning English as an additional language. 


Milian, M. & Conroy, P. (2001). Providing Professional Services to Individuals Who Speak English as a Second Language. In Milian, M. & Erin, J. N. (eds). Diversity and visual impairment: The influence of race, gender, religion, and ethnicity on the individual. pp. 343-381. New York, NY: AFB Press.

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