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).

On this page:

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 may not be able to perform daily living tasks at the same level of proficiency as their same-aged peers without visual impairment (Lewis & Iselin, 2002). Unlike their peers, students with visual impairments may not be able to easily observe 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 independence in 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 for the Blind (2020). Talking digital thermometer [Device]
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. [Professional Text]
See also: Home Management Assessment Manual and Self-Management Assessment Manual by the same author.
Bull, K., & Shannon, S. (2018). Everyday life: A guidebook for teaching independent living skills. Watertown, MA: Perkins School for the Blind. [Professional Text]
Guidebook and assessment tool for teaching independent living skills to students with visual impairments, including those with multiple exceptionalities. 
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. [Professional Text]
Lesson guides for teaching cleaning and home organizational skills to students from K-12. 
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. [Professional Text]
Guidebook to teaching the areas of the ECC in the early years, taking a systematic approach to laying the groundwork for success in functional skills. 
National Braille Press (2015). Stir it up! Recipes & techniques for young blind cooks. Boston, MA: NBP. [Student Material]
Adaptive cooking techniques and strategies combined with recipes for younger cooks. Winner of the 2015 IBBY Outstanding Books for Young People with Disabilities. Braille/print format
Shannon, S. (2011). Help yourself : Mealtime skills for students who are blind or visually impaired. Watertown, MA: Perkins School for the Blind. [Professional Text]
Guide for those supporting visually impaired students with meal preparation and table skills - including pouring, spreading, serving, cutting and slicing, and using condiments.
RNIB (2014).Tactile Measuring Jug[Device]
Example of an adapted tool to support independent living skill instruction. For more ideas, search using the “Life Skills” descriptor in the PRCVI Library Catalogue.
Read, R. (1981). When the cook can't look: A cooking handbook for the blind and visually impaired. Continuum International Publishing Group, Limited [Professional Text]
Insight and tips shared by a blind cook on technique and safety in the kitchen. Includes recipes. 
Staybowlizer (2019). Staybowlizer [Device]
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 https://www.familyconnect.org/info/education/expanded-core-curriculum/independent-living-skills-671/123
Family-focused article drawing connections between independent living skills and other areas of the Expanded Core Curriculum. 
Live Accessible (2019, February 13). 5 tips for cleaning for the blind and visually impaired! [Video]. YouTube https://youtu.be/q6P-HHg9tTo
Short (6:22) video with tips on kitchen cleaning from a visually impaired host.
Michigan Department of Education (2019). Independent living skills checklists. Retrieved from https://mdelio.org/blind-visually-impaired/expanded-core-curriculum/independent-living-skills
Skill acquisition checklists and timelines by grade level, preschool to grade 12.
Paths to Literacy (2019). Tips for teaching how to create a signatureRetrieved from https://www.pathstoliteracy.org/strategies/tips-teaching-how-create-signature
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. 
Perry, S.I. (n.d.). Needle arts with vision loss. Retrieved from https://needleartswithvisionloss.wordpress.com/
Blog featuring guides of adapted techniques and strategies for a variety of needle crafts.
Vision Aware (2019). Organizing and labeling clothing when you are blind or have low vision. Retrieved from https://www.visionaware.org/info/everyday-living/essential-skills/personal-self-care/organizing-and-labeling-clothing/1235
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.
Willings, C. (2019). Hygiene and Grooming. Retrieved from https://www.teachingvisuallyimpaired.com/hygiene--grooming.html
Family-focused tips and considerations for addressing hygiene and grooming with a student with visual impairment.

References

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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