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Calendar Systems
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Calendar Systems

Welcome to the Calendar Systems Tutorial!

After completing this tutorial participants will:

picture of girl with calendar

As an introduction to this module, a review of the Overview of Deafblindness module is appropriate. Although most students with deafblindness have some usable vision or hearing, it is not enough to provide easy access to information. The information that deafblind children receive is often distorted, fluctuating, confusing and meaningless.

Language develops in children without disabilities as a result of incidental learning through their distance senses-vision and hearing. Babies are praised and encouraged when they smile. Their parents and other caring people in their lives "converse" with them by copying their babbling and cooing noises and teach them about the world by naming objects and actions over and over. Without formal classes, children without disabilities learn to communicate. They make choices, reject things they do not like, interpret and respond to body language and make their wants and needs known. The ability to do this makes it possible for these children to actively participate in a social world.

This type of incidental learning is not possible for children who are deafblind. Children who are deafblind need to be taught a process that will enable them to become receptive and expressive communicators. One way to do this is through the use of a calendar system. Calendar systems are not just schedules, they provide a process that takes a child from communicating with objects to being able to use abstract symbols. Calendar activities provide opportunities for a child to be a part of the social world by providing a structure that they can understand and topics that are meaningful.

What are Calendars?

Calendars come in many forms. The selection of a specific type of calendar is based on the needs and capabilities of each student. They may be as simple as a single basket containing an object that represents "What I am going to do now." They may have a series of compartments that contain objects, parts of objects, photographs, line drawings or tactile symbols representing the activities of the day. Some calendars include a symbol for choice-making that allows a student to select a favored activity. Others may look very much like regular calendars consisting of months, days and dates with information in large print or Braille.

Although calendars are used to teach communication, they ARE NOT communication systems. Like a routine, a calendar is a strategy to provide structure and predictability for students who are deafblind. Calendars also provide an opportunity to "converse" with a communication partner that speaks the same language. The communication partner is the person who does the calendar activity with the student. In the school setting it is the teacher or intervener. Many families also have calendars at home.

Calendars teach receptive and expressive communication by:

Types of Calendars

As the name suggests, calendars teach time concepts and clarify the meaning of vocabulary about time. Calendars are designed to accurately reflect a student's internal concept of time and can be individualized to accommodate the unique sensory modification needs of each student. There are 3 different levels or formats of calendar systems that progress systematically across a range of time frames:

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Click to go to "Anticipation Calendars"

Significant portions of this module are adapted with permission from Calendars for Students with Multiple Impairments Including Deafblindness by Robbie Blaha.


Western Oregon University | The Research Institute | The Oregon Deafblind Project

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The Oregon Deafblind Project is funded through grant award # H326T130008, OSEP CFDA 84.326T, U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education (OSEP), OSEP Project Officer: Susan Weigert.

However, the contents of this site does not necessarily represent the policy of the US Department of Education, and no assumption of endorsement by the Federal government should be made.

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