Social Interaction Skills

Two students laughing together.

Image shows a logo with two stick figures engaged in conversation.Social development starts immediately after birth and continues through the course of the lifespan. The set of knowledge and skills required to interact effectively with others is acquired and practiced across several social and cultural settings at home, school, and in the community. Social Interaction Skills include awareness of body language, social communication, cooperative skills, and social etiquette.

On this page:

Check out the Social Interaction 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 Social Responsibility as a core competency with the goal that all students grow into active, caring, and responsible members of society. Students who are socially aware make positive contributions to the well-being of their communities. The curriculum identifies four facets of social responsibility:

  • Contributing to and caring for the environment
  • Solving problems in peaceful ways
  • Valuing diversity
  • Building relationships

Social Interaction Skills - Students with Visual Impairments

So much of communication is visual - students with visual impairments may be less able to observe the social behaviour of others. These students require that the social world be made accessible through the direct instruction of the knowledge and skills for social interaction and belonging (Sacks, 2014). 

Research has shown that adolescents with visual impairments are more likely to engage in passive (e.g., online communication) as opposed to active forms of social engagement, and that degree of vision loss is not predictive of the degree of social isolation experienced by a student (Gold, Shaw, & Wolffe, 2010). Therefore:

  • Social interaction skills need to be taught to all students with visual impairments, regardless of the extent of their vision loss
  • Instruction should support a range of opportunities for social engagement.
  • Instruction in social interaction skills not only supports competence in this area but has wider impacts on outcomes in other areas of the ECC and beyond (Botsford, 2013).

Examples of Social Interaction Skills

  • Sharing toys, games, and activities with others. Allowing others to select a play activity.
  • Complimenting and encouraging the efforts of others. Teaching the concept of “being a good sport.”
  • Understanding and interpreting sarcasm and other forms of non-literal language.

Resources to Support Instruction

PRCVI Library Catalogue

Corn, A. L., Bina, M. J., & Sacks, S. Z. (2009). Looking good: A curriculum on physical appearance and personal presentation for adolescents and young adults with visual impairments. Austin, TX: PRO-ED. [Professional Text]
Lessons and activities for promoting personal care skills and connections to social skills and self-determination for visually impaired students. 
Crow, N. & Herlich, S. (2012). Getting to know you: A social skills/ability awareness curriculum. Louisville, KY: American Printing House for the Blind. [Resource Kit]
Cooperative games that students with visual impairments can share with peers. See link for other accessible cooperative games in the catalogue.
MacCuspie, P. A. (1996). Promoting acceptance of children with disabilities: From tolerance to inclusion. Halifax, NS: Atlantic Provinces Special Education Authority. [Professional Text]
Classic text on social development and the implications of visual impairment for social interaction. 
Sacks, S. Z., & Wolffe, K. E. (2006). Teaching social skills to students with visual impairments: From research to practice. New York, NY: AFB Press. [Professional Text]
Survey text of social development for visually impaired learners. Chapter topics include self-esteem, developing friendships, and teaching social skills to students from early childhood to grade 12. 

Web-Based Resources

APH Family Connect (2019). Social interaction skills and the Expanded Core Curriculum. Retrieved from https://www.familyconnect.org/info/education/expanded-core-curriculum/social-interaction-skills/123
Introduction to the role of the TVI in providing direct instruction in social skills as an ECC content area. 
Conversation StartersRetrieved from https://conversationstartersworld.com/250-conversation-starters/
Conversation prompts to practice having good conversations on a wide range of topics, turn-taking, asking good questions of your communication partner and getting to know others.
Miller, T. (n.d.). Social Skills for Children and Youth with Visual Impairments [Webinar]. Retrieved from https://www.perkinselearning.org/videos/webcast/social-skills-children-and-youth-visual-impairments
Webinar addressing social skills instruction. Topics include the impact of vision loss on social skills, observation and assessment, and integration into the Individualized Education Plan (IEP). 
Miller, T. (n.d.). Issues in Social Skills & Sex Education [Webinar]. Retrieved from https://www.perkinselearning.org/videos/webcast/issues-social-skills-sex-education
This webinar from Perkins eLearning looks at the multiple connections between social skills and sexuality education for students with visual impairments. Topics include early connections to social skills and teaching self-protection.
Sacks, S. Z. (n.d.). Developing Social Skills in Children Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired [Webinar]. Retrieved from https://www.perkinselearning.org/videos/webcast/developing-social-skills-children-who-are-blind-or-visually-impaired
Webinar from renowned expert Dr. Sharon Sacks on supporting the development of social interaction skills. Topics include widening social circles, developing appropriate self-awareness, and self-advocacy as a social skill. 
Sacks, S. Z., Lueck, A. H., Corn, A. L., & Erin, J. N. (2011). Supporting the social and emotional needs of students with low vision to promote academic and social success. Position paper of the Division on Visual Impairments and Deafblindness, Council for Exceptional Children. Arlington, VA: Council for Exceptional Children. [.DOC file download]
Position paper from DVIDB on considerations for addressing the psychosocial needs of visually impaired students. Key points address the student's understanding of their visual condition, self-advocacy, and identity development. 

References

Botsford, K. D. (2013). Social skills for youths with visual impairments: A meta-analysis. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, 107, 497-508.  

Gold, D., Shaw, A., & Wolffe, K. (2010). The social lives of Canadian youths with visual impairments. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, 104, 431-443.  

Sacks, S. Z. (2014). Social interaction. In C. B. Allman & S. Lewis (eds.) ECC Essentials: Teaching the expanded core curriculum to students with visual impairments (pp. 324-368). New York, NY: AFB Press.

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