As children grow, they are expected to become increasingly responsible for their own needs. Taking responsibility is an important component of building self-determination skills. Students who know what is expected of them and who take the initiative to do these activities experience a greater sense of confidence and control over their lives.
Many students with vision impairments, with or without additional disabilities, have had little experience with making their own decisions and with being responsible for their own needs. The following activity is designed to introduce students to the concept of personal task management, which helps build responsibility and empowers students to take control of their own actions.
A schedule board, pictured here, is a board that helps students keep track of activities or tasks that they need to complete. Schedule boards typically assist students with taking charge of tasks that are part of a routine. A schedule board can have many uses, and can be adapted base on a student’s current needs. At home, the schedule board can help to outline the tasks that are part of a morning routine (getting dressed, brushing teeth, putting on shoes, etc.). In a school setting, a student can use a schedule board to keep track of activities during the day, as well as in preparation to go home for the day (e.g. writing down the homework assignment, packing backpack, putting on coat, etc.).
A schedule board is made from a sturdy cardboard or similar material, then covered with a Velcro or Veltex fabric. Velcro strips are labeled with the tasks that the student needs to complete. With the velcro strips arranged on the schedule board, the student can reference the board to keep track of the tasks that need to be completed, and can remove the corresponding strip each time she completes a task.
A totally blind student who is a braille reader needs to work on learning her morning routine. Her parents are constantly having to guide her through each task that she needs to complete, and they would like her to begin taking more responsibility in this part of her day. Her parents and/or teachers create a schedule board for her detailing the 6 tasks she needs to complete each morning:
- Make bed
- Get dressed
- Brush hair
- Eat breakfast
- Brush teeth
- Put on coat and backpack
Each task is written on a Velcro strip in braille for the student to read and in print for her family members to read. Her parents line up the strips on the schedule board in the correct order. She is then able to read the task list independently. Each time she completes a task on the list, she removes the corresponding Velcro strip from the board and places it in a designated area.
The Velcro strips can be labelled with any form of communication that the student accesses most easily. Examples include:
- Large print
- Picture symbols
- Objects or tactile symbols
- Audio labels with a Pen Friend or other similar device
While helping students build skills around self-determination, this activity also addresses compensatory skills and independent living skills.