What is Structured Discovery

The name Structured Discovery was first applied to the teaching of orientation and mobility (cane travel) in 1984 and was trademarked as Structured Discovery Cane Travel (SDCT®) in 2009. The methods and principles that undergird Structured Discovery; however, come from the lived experiences of blind men and women who are blind, and who have shared their experiences, attitudes, and techniques with each other through the organization of the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) since 1940. SDCT is now a unique instructional service that is used to teach independence to individuals who are blind in a meaningful, robust, and life-long manner. SDCT instructional services consist of non-visual techniques, problem solving strategies, experiential learning, and confidence building experiences. SDCT relies heavily on Socratic questioning, (i.e., the asking of strategic questions to guide the learner in solving the problem), and the role modeling of non-visual techniques, which demonstrates their effectiveness while correcting misconceptions about blindness. These teaching strategies are used across all adjustment categories, including cane travel, Braille literacy, home management training, computer/access technology, wood shop, and seminars and other activities which focus on coping with blindness, and confronting attitudes about blindness. Structured Discovery, therefore, describes a unique rehabilitation teaching service, substantially and recognizably different from conventional/traditional approaches of teaching individuals who are blind/visually impaired.

Structured Discovery strategies include:

  • Non-visual Skills. Where ever sight is absent or faulty, non-visual techniques should be used. Non-visual skills are equal to their sighted counterpart, and are transferable across environmental situations. Non-visual skills are reliable and stable over time.
  • Problem Solving. Because the world is visually oriented and ever-changing, the blind person must be taught to think critically, strategically, and derive answers to unique problems. The SDCT principles, coupled with discovery learning provide the foundation necessary to promote critical problem solving.
  • Personal Attitudes. Every aspect of skill training must be in support of fostering positive attitudes. Whereas teaching techniques are similar across rehabilitation approaches, the SD methods infuse lessons about attitudes that empower greater confidence, self-esteem, and hope.
  • Public Misconceptions. The largest environmental barrier facing blind people is public misconceptions and low expectations. Every aspect of rehabilitation should include problem solving, advocacy, and support networks to combat misconceptions and lowered expectations. Every opportunity should be taken throughout rehabilitation to examine public attitudes, low expectations, and strategies for overcoming those barriers.
  • Giving Back. A fundamental component of rehabilitation is a person’s learning that he/she can contribute to the world in a meaningful way. Equally as important as skills training, blind persons must be given opportunities to give of their time, talent, and heart to help others.

Fully understanding and teaching under Structured Discovery methods and principles takes years of concerted training, dedication, and the proper perspective in understanding blindness and the capacity of individuals who are blind. Additional information on SDCT can be found at other locations on this web page.