Making Choices and Taking Ownership

By Courtney Tabor-... on Nov 07, 2016

One of the best ways to build self determination skills is to give students opportunities to make choices and take ownership. Students with vision impairments are often given few opportunities to make decisions and take control of the choices they make. Furthermore, because they may be unable to visually observe the activities around them, students are frequently unaware of the options available to them.

This activity is a fun way to get students’ feet wet with decision-making by allowing them to pick an activity to participate in. However, this activity goes a step further by requiring students to participate in the planning of the activity. Through this planning, students are taking ownership. They are learning about the ability to take control of a situation. The responsibility they are taking on empowers them to understand the positive results of their actions and participation. These skills will be useful for students as they continue to build self-determination to make important decisions as they transition to adulthood.


  • Choose a designated time each week or each month where the student has the opportunity to choose a recreational outing. Many students may benefit from a list of two or more options to choose from. The key in this activity is for the student to take ownership in part or all of the planning for the activity.  Some examples can include:
    • Going to a concert
    • Attending a community event such as a fair or festival
    • Going for a swim at a local pool
    • Attending a sporting event
    • Having lunch and a walk in a public park
  • Once the student has chosen an activity, work with her to develop a list of all the tasks that need to be done to prepare for this outing. Students can write or record this list using their preferred method of recording and accessing information.
  • Based on this list, students should choose one or more tasks to be in charge of in order to plan for this activity. Examples of activity planning tasks vary based on skill level and can include:
    • Inviting others to come on the activity and keeping track of how many people are going
    • Learning about the location for the activity through phone call or online research (i.e. hours, address, entrance fees)
    • Getting directions to the location
    • Determining the best mode of transportation—how will we get there?
    • Determining the appropriate bills and change for entrance fees, taxi fares, or other related expenses


  • This can easily be made into a group activity to work on social skill development, including skills of communication, sharing responsibility, and cooperation.
  • This activity can be adapted based on each student’s skills and needs. For students with advanced skills, this activity can be an opportunity for route planning, doing online research, and learning about time management and organization by taking responsibility for multiple tasks. Students with complex needs can focus on the component of choosing the activity or inviting others to join.
  • Although the primary goal in this activity is self determination, this is an opportunity for students to work on all aspects of the Expanded Core Curriculum through integrated experiential learning.

Collage for making choices and taking ownership

Total Life Learning by Wendy Bridgeo,‎ Beth Caruso,‎ & Mary Zatta

Cover of Total Life Learning

The Total Life Learning curriculum was developed for students ages 3 to 22 who are blind, visually impaired including those students who have additional disabilities or are deafblind. The focus is on the development of life and career goals that enable student to maximize independence, self-determination, employability, and participation in the community.