Physical Education, Recreation and Games for Students with Vision Impairment

Physical Education and Sport Classes - Some Considerations:

  •  Even when the vision impaired student cannot participate fully, there is a social advantage in knowing about rules, equipment, terminology and team spirit of the popular team sports.
  • Always give clear directions when describing an activity eg. the bat is on the floor to your right.
  • Be aware that many vision impaired children have difficulties on bright sunny days. It may take some time for their vision to adjust when travelling between bright and dim environments.
  •  Don’t stand with a light source or window behind you when addressing the student.
  •  Read aloud when you are writing on the board and spell new words.
  •  Ask the vision impaired student to hand out materials and equipment. This will give her an opportunity to see who is in the class.
  •  Because the vision impaired student cannot see your smile of encouragement, be sure to offer verbal encouragement when she does well.
  •  Ensure that the student is well oriented to the area in which she is expected to move.
  •  Secure the student’s attention by using a whistle and or calling her name.
  •  Choose balls and other equipment that have good contrast for the student with low vision.
  • A ball with a bell will assist participation for blind students.
  • If the layout of the playground, oval or gymnasium is altered, point out these changes to your vision impaired student.
  • Your vision impaired student may know the school environment very well but on excursions she may be less confident in her mobility skills and may need assistance from classmates or an adult.
  • Include the vision impaired student in all class experiences - displays, jokes, visitors etc.
  • Swap ‘buddies’ if the situation is unpleasant for either student - they might become good friends another time.
  • Don’t avoid ‘blind’ and ‘seeing’ words - blind people do ‘watch’ TV and go to ‘see’ a friend.
  • If you are concerned about a blind or vision impaired student participating in a game, think carefully through the issues and the skills required. Often there is a simple solution which will allow inclusion. Utilise the following approach to problem-solving. 

Activity Concerns and Possible Solutions

  • Baseball/ soccer: The activity uses large, open space and the playing object can escape. Decrease the playing area by using predictable boundaries. Use auditory devices on bases, beep balls and spotters.
  • Relays: There is an uneven number of vision impaired students and the activity requires that evenly matched teams compete Blindfold an equal number of sighted students who have volunteered to play blindfolded OR determine evenly matched teams yourself as opposed to student captains selecting teams.
  • Some eye conditions can be aggravated by strenuous physical activity and contact sports. Teachers should check with parents and the Visiting Teacher for specific information.
  • Running Tether - shoe laces make great tethers when running. Flat shoe laces tied in a loop so that there is just enough room for the guide and runner’s hand. This provides control to the guide and makes arm-swing timing much easier. There is also less risk of injury to both the guide and runner when using a short tether
  • Events utilizing a target - use an auditory signal behind or under the target such as a radio, hand clapping, a bell with a string.
  • To delineate the playing area - use brightly coloured mats or tape.
  •  PMP and Other Skill-Based Activities - use contrasting surfaces and equipment eg contrasting mat under a balance beam.
  • Catching activities - use a bean bag instead of a ball OR bounce pass instead of tossing the ball.
  • Virginia Reel and Chase/Catch Games - where partners separate and locate each other again, use an auditory signal such as a clap or whistle to assist location.
  • Throwing Events - a block of wood held in the ground with tent pegs acts as a good toe board. The rest of the students in the class will also find this useful.
  • The activity area has limited boundaries - use carpet or rubber runners as markers.
  • Volleyball and other activities utilizing a net - decrease the playing area AND/OR modify the body position from upright and running to a safe position such as a crawl, walk or crab walk AND/OR require players to play in pairs.
  • Field Hockey and Soccer where one player is required to protect the goal - reduce the area of the goal AND/OR use a larger, softer ball AND/OR divide the goal area between two goalies.
  • Trampolining - mark the centre of the trampoline with a bell attached to a small piece of thread.
  • Correction Swimming Goggles - take the goggles and prescription to your local optometrist who will be able to supply correction swimming goggles.
  • use a buddy systems, peer tutoring, and teacher aides to assist in learning and participating in movement patterns, motor skills and sports activities;
  • Can the student be better prepared for the activity? eg practice performing the skill prior to its introduction to the class.
  • Tunnel Ball 2 or 3 teams - human version. On the whistle the leader crawls through legs of team members. As a player ‘disappears’ down the tunnel the next player starts to go through the tunnel.
  • Human Chain. Same as above only students twist in and out of team members as they move down the line.