Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Johnny L. Matson


Two groups of students with visual impairments were taught various independent living skills. Five of the seven students also had a diagnosis of mental retardation. One group (three first graders) was taught the tasks of folding a shirt, making an emergency telephone call, and spreading soft foods with a knife. The other group (four young men) was taught to increase leisure skills through three different leatherwork tasks. Independence training was conducted in a group format, and included social learning components (e.g., self-evaluation, peer evaluation and reinforcement) in addition to traditional operant procedures (e.g., modeling, prompting). However, due to the presence of visual impairments, a physical and verbal modification of modeling was utilized, whereby the subject was physically guided through the steps while being provided with a narration of the steps simultaneously. A multiple baseline design across behaviors demonstrated the efficacy of the comprehensive training package in training various independent living skills to the two groups of visually impaired and mentally retarded students. Social validity measures demonstrated the clinical significance of the subsequent changes in behavioral skills. The current positive results show that training procedures used exclusively with persons with mental retardation can be modified and be effective with a different and younger population, while targeting different independent living skills.