Social Studies

Photo of tactile political map of Europe.

The purpose of social studies is to provide students with the knowledge, skills, and understandings required for engaged citizenship in local, provincial, national, and international communities. Students explore connections between themselves and different world cultures (past and present) as well as their connection to the natural environment.

The BC K-12 Social Studies Curriculum offers students the opportunity to build understanding and knowledge from disciplines within the humanities and social sciences, including history, geography, and political science.

On this page:

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

Social Studies - Students with Visual Impairments

Students with visual impairments may come to learning in humanities and the social sciences with gaps in foundational concepts resulting from reduced opportunities for incidental learning compared with their peers with typical vision (Ross & Johnson, 2017). The teacher of students with visual impairments will work with classroom and subject-area teachers to address these gaps or misconceptions while providing direct instruction in the knowledge, skills, and tools for accessing social studies (e.g., effective exploration of tactile maps).

Examples of Adaptations for Social Studies

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 Social Studies and the ECC. 

Compensatory Skills

  • Efficient note-taking skills during lectures and whole-class activities across a variety of modalities (e.g., audio recording, notes on a braille notetaker).
  • Engaging with tactile and print maps and images using effective strategies for exploring and analyzing graphical content

Social Interaction Skills

  • Role-playing with peers when learning about the practices of ancient cultures (e.g. acting out events from the Olympics of Ancient Greece).
  • Working collaboratively with peers to conduct research on a topic – need to engage research skills with assistive technology to contribute to the group initiative and final product.


  • Contacting an art gallery or museum ahead of a class trip to enquire about the accessibility of the experience for guests with visual impairments.
  • Learning about the history of the consumer movement and of disability rights, as well as present-day rights and responsibilities under provincial, federal, and international laws and conventions (e.g., the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities).

Resources to Support Instruction

PRCVI Library Catalogue

American Printing House (n.d.). Tactile and Visual Globe.
The PRCVI Library has several types of tactile globes and atlases. Note: Most globes and atlases are not yet available with labels in the Unified English Braille code.
American Printing House (n.d.) Draftsman tactile drawing board
The Draftsman board can be used by students to create a variety of social studies materials, including graphs, timelines, and maps. 
Edman, P. (1992). Tactile graphics. New York, NY: American Foundation for the Blind. [Professional Resource]
Professional text on designing and creating tactile graphics, largely by hand. 

Web-Based Resources

American Foundation for the Blind (n.d.). Chronology of events in the history of the education of people who are visually impaired. Retrieved from:
Historical resource on the education of students with visual impairments to inform research and self-determination-related work. 
American Printing House (2007). Essential characteristics of large print maps. Retrieved from
Guidelines for the creation of large print maps developed by focus groups of TSVIs with credentials in teaching geography. 
Arnott, J. (2018, May 31). Tactile maps and teaching map skills. Accessed at:
Resource page with links to support for TSVIs teaching graphics as well as those exploring 3D printing and computer-generated graphics. 
Braille Authority of North America (2010). Guidelines and Standards for Tactile Graphics. Retrieved from
Foundational guidelines for creating tactile materials. See Unit 7 - Complex Diagrams for guidance related to social studies materials (Subsection 7.6)
Dingle, G. (2011). The Canadian Council of The Blind: An abbreviated history. Retrieved from
Historical resource on the blind consumer movement in Canada, with specific reference to the CCB.
Marek, B. (2005). First steps in tactile graphics: Before a blind child can read a map. Retrieved from
Article on the precursor skills to map exploration.
Willings, C. (n.d.). Social studies adaptations. Retrieved from:
Resource page on general adaptations for making social studies materials and instruction more accessible. 


Ross, D. B., & Johnson, N. (2017). Chapter 13: Social Studies. In M. C. Holbrook, T, McCarthy, & C. Kamei-Hannan, (Eds.), Foundations of education Volume 2: Instructional strategies for teaching children and youths with visual impairments (3rd Ed.), (pp. 427-448). New York, NY: AFB Press.


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