Independent Living Skills

Photo shows two adapted oven dials on a panel with tactile markings.

Image shows a logo with a front-loading washing machine.Independent Living Skills are the skills required to meet the challenges of daily living, including time management, dressing, personal care, eating, cooking, and household management. These skills are key to student achievement, independence, and success in life (Bardin, 2014).

Check out the Independent Living Skills section in #Outreaching - the blog of the PRCVI Outreach Team.


Connections to the BC Curriculum – Core Competencies

The British Columbia K-12 Curriculum emphasizes Personal Awareness and Responsibility as a core competency with the goal that all students are “personally aware and responsible to recognize the factors that affect their holistic wellness and take increasing responsibility for caring for themselves. They keep themselves healthy and stay active, manage stress, and express a sense of personal well-being.” Under this core competency, independent living skills are most directly connected to the Well-Being facet.

Independent Living Skills – Students with Visual Impairments

Research has shown that students with visual impairments are less likely to be able to perform daily living tasks when compared with their same-aged peers without visual impairment (Lewis & Iselin, 2002). Unlike their peers, students with visual impairments may not be able to easily observe all the daily living tasks being performed by others (e.g., parents, siblings, friends).

As a result, there is a need to provide direct, systematic instruction in independent living skills not only so that students can understand the skill in question, but also understand the adaptive tools and strategies they can use to master that skill – among other important outcomes:

  • Higher ratings of adaptive behaviour are associated with higher self-reported ratings of quality of life among adolescents with visual impairments (Bathel, de Haan, & Dale, 2019).
  • Higher ratings of daily living skills are associated with greater independent mobility (i.e., O&M; Papadopoulos, Metsiou, & Agaliotis, 2011).

Examples of Independent Living Skills

  • Folding laundry – beginning with simple and symmetrical items (e.g., washcloths) and then moving on to larger, more complex garments.
  • Rinsing, cutting, and separating fruits and vegetables.
  • Making purchases with credit and debit cards, as well as managing the accounts associated with each card.

Resources to Support Instruction

PRCVI Library Catalogue

American Printing House (2020). Talking Cooking Thermometer 

  • Food safety is an important part of teaching independent kitchen skills! The APH Talking Thermometer can be used for cooking to check the temperature of meat or other dishes. (Note: The thermometer available in the PRCVI collection may be helpful for teaching the use of the thermometer with non-food items such as Play-Doh, but we recommend obtaining a food-safe, cooking-only thermometer for use in the kitchen.)

Bender, D. (2018). Clothing Management Assessment Manual: Functional Skills Assessment. Louisville, KY: American Printing House for the Blind.

Bull, K., & Shannon, S. (2018). Everyday life: A guidebook for teaching independent living skills. Watertown, MA: Perkins School for the Blind.

Bull, K., Lind-Sinarian, S., & Martin, E. (2008). Clean to the touch: Housekeeping for young people with visual impairments. Watertown, MA: Perkins School for the Blind.

Greeley, J. C. & McCall, M. D. (2018). Teaching life differently: The Expanded Core Curriculum for babies and young children with visual impairment. Watertown, MA: Perkins School for the Blind.

RNIB (2014). Tactile Measuring Jug

Staybowlizer (2019). Staybowlizer

  • This handy tool keeps the bowl in place while students are stirring ingredients in the kitchen. Great for students with limited coordination or dexterity.

Web-Based Resources

APH Family Connect (2019). Independent living skills and the Expanded Core Curriculum. Retrieved from

Michigan Department of Education (2019). Independent living skills checklists. Retrieved from

Paths to Literacy (2019). Tips for teaching how to create a signatureRetrieved from

  • Check out this page from Paths to Literacy on teaching strategies and materials for print signatures - an important skill for all students! Signature guides are available in the PRCVI Library Catalogue. 

Vision Aware (2019). Essential skills for everyday living with vision loss. Retrieved from

Vision Aware (2019). Organizing and Labeling Clothing When You Are Blind or Have Low Vision. Retrieved from

  • This resource from VisionAware is full of ideas and strategies for labeling clothing. The article covers many practical strategies for organization in addition to information on specialty labeling products.

Hygiene and Grooming. Retrieved from

  • Family-focused tips and considerations for addressing hygiene and grooming with a student with visual impairment.


Bardin, J. (2014). Independent Living. In C. B. Allman & S. Lewis (eds.) ECC Essentials: Teaching the expanded core curriculum to students with visual impairments (pp. 283-323). New York, NY: AFB Press.

Bathelt, J., de Haan, M., & Dale, N. J. (2019). Adaptive behaviour and quality of life in school-age children with congenital visual disorders and different levels of visual impairment. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 85, 154-162.

Lewis, S., & Iselin, S. A. (2002). A comparison of the independent living skills of primary students with visual impairments and their sighted peers: A pilot study. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, 96, 335-344.

Papadopoulos, K., Metsiou, K., & Agaliotis, I. (2011). Adaptive behavior of children and adolescents with visual impairments. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 32, 1086-1096.

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