Project10 Transition Education Network
Project 10 > Search Project 10
Smallest Text Small Text Normal Text Large Text XLarge Text Print Page

Community-Based Instruction


Community-Based Instruction (CBI) is an effective instructional method for teaching, in real-life settings and under the supervision of educators, the skills that students will need for functional daily living as productive adults. CBI has been documented as an evidence-based practice by the National Secondary Transition Technical Assistance Center.   

In the short term, CBI helps students develop age-appropriate skills for functioning outside the school environment. Ultimately, CBI prepares students for successful transition to adulthood after graduation, helps students to live independently, and enhances their quality of life.

CBI programs are hands-on and are implemented during trips to community locations. "Locations such as ‘community’ or ‘campus’ are appropriate for services such as community-based instruction or orientation and mobility training" (FLDOE BEESS, 2004, pp. 2-3). A critical component of CBI is the involvement of parents and other members of the community such as businesses, teachers, and local establishments.

CBI is individualized to meet the particular needs of a student and to teach skills which relate to specific IEP goals or objectives. The Phoenix Day school for the Deaf (n.d.) has identified four CBI domains:

  • Domestic – self care and grooming, wellness, nutrition, cooking, laundry, housekeeping
  • Vocational – career exploration, employability skills, instructions, rules, schedules
  • Community – transportation, libraries, shopping, post office, restaurants,
  • Recreation and Leisure – crafts, games, parks, YMCA, bowling, golfing, movies, amusement parks

Academic, communication, and social skills are incorporated into CBI and may include the following:

  • Advocating for oneself
  • Purchasing groceries
  • Balancing a checkbook
  • Doing laundry
  • Using the public library
  • Locating, carrying and/or purchasing items in stores
  • Utilizing public transportation
  • Attending community events
  • Ordering food in a restaurant
  • Identifying potential employers through site visits

Trips to community locations occur concurrently with classroom instruction. Students may initially learn and practice a skill in the classroom; they will eventually practice the skill by applying it in a home or community setting. For example, a student who learns math skills in the classroom may later practice those skills during a shopping expedition.

Community-based instruction benefits students, parents and caregivers, educational staff, and the community. Some of the benefits, many of which were identified by the Nevada Dual Sensory Impairment Project (n.d.), include:

  • Students increase appropriate behaviors for work and community settings, independence and mobility, and the ability to generalize skills and knowledge to new situations.
  • Parents/Caregivers increase commitment, communication, cooperation, and participation in planning, programming, and skills identification.
  • Educational staff increase creativity, commitment, communication, and motivation.
  • Communities increase awareness of the potential of individuals with disabilities and school/private sector partnerships.


Technical Assistance Paper 12698:  Non-Paid Community-Based Vocational Educational (CBVE) Programs                                                                                                                                        

This technical assistance paper (TAP) from the Florida Department of Education identifies helpful guidelines for non-paid CBVE programs where students perform work assignments for various businesses in order to collect information on their interests, aptitudes, needs, learning styles, work habits, behaviors, personal and social skills, valued, attitudes, and stamina. The TAP also presents guidelines for compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act and the U.S. Departments of Education and Labor regulations.     

Providing Community-Based Instruction (General Practice)              

This Web page from the National Secondary Transition Technical Assistance Center (NSTTAC) provides information on evidence based CBI practices. Studies describe delivering instruction in a variety of community settings including stores, restaurants, automated teller machines, laundromats, recreational facilities, and job sites. Instructional practices include practicing strategies or skills in community settings with role play or with employees or community members after direct instruction and simulated practice in the classroom.

Teaching Employment Skills Using Community-Based Instruction (Specific Practice)

This Web page from NTACT provides information on an evidence-based program teaching students job-specific and related social/communication skills in the community; also provided is a link to an appropriate lesson plan in the NTACT Lesson Plan Library.

Community-Based Instruction: A Guidebook for Teachers
This book by Beakley, B.A., Yoder, S.L., & West, L.L. (2003) contains information on CBI expectations, procedures, classroom components, evaluation, generalization, and more. Published by the Council on Exceptional Children, Arlington, VA.

Benefits of Community-Based Instruction

This tip sheet from the Nevada Dual Sensory Impairment Project at the University of Nevada Reno describes the benefits of CBI for students, parents and caregivers, educational staff, and the community.                                 

Draft Guidelines for Community-Based Instruction
This draft from Baltimore County Public Schools describes the planning and implementation process for CBI including sequencing, alignment with IEP goals, site identification, staff responsibilities, documentation, data collection, and more.

Orientation & Mobility/Community-Based Instruction Infusion Scope and Sequence Chart

This chart by Karyl Moore lists the skills by age group that a students needs to function in the community. The chart may assist teachers in teaching age-appropriate community skills.


FLDOE BEESS. (2004, November 1). Rule Implementation Brief, Rule 6A-6.03028. Development of Individual Educational Plans for Student with Disabilities. Tallahassee, FL: Author. Available at

Nevada Dual Sensory Impairment Project. (n.d.). Tips for home or school: Benefits of Community-Based Instruction. Reno, NV: University of Nevada Reno, Department of Educational Specialties. Available at





The development of this website was funded by the University of South Florida St. Petersburg
through a grant by the Bureau of Exceptional Education and Student Services,
Florida Department of Education (2010 - 2011, 291-2621A-1C008).

Valid CSS! Bobby Approved 508 Bobby Approved AAA

Copyright © 2017 by Project10. All rights reserved.
Site Hosted & Designed By: ArtStudio Graphics