PHYSICAL EDUCATION FOR THE BLIND AND VISUALLY IMPAIRED
Physical Education is important for the
and well being of people of all ages. It is enjoyable, builds self-
and improves ones health and fitness. Specific sports skills are developed
individual as well as team sports. Students experience a variety of
recreational activities. Students who are blind or visually impaired also
to experience physical activity. The visually impaired student with
disabilities should experience a program designed to improve their fitness
levels by participating in various games, activities and exercises. Some
students may have developed poor circulation, limited lung capacity, poor
tone, poor posture, and a tendency to become overweight. A regular physical
activity program will improve fitness and give the student confidence to
through space without instructions. It can also develop motor skills
daily living and mobility.
The New Jersey Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired lists
strategies for students with visual impairments in physical education
Review the student's Functional Vision Evaluation or meet with the
Counselor to determine the student's degree of visual impairment and the
of residual vision available to the student.
Ask students what they are able to see and which objects and conditions
present problems and at what distance the object is visible.
Allow students to position themselves where they are able to see the
Make sure indoor areas are well lit,( check with students -dim light
Use light colored equipment, preferably white, yellow, or orange,
is needed to provide contrast.
Allow a student with a visual impairment to explore the entire physical
education area so he or she can become familiar with the area.
Keep the instructional areas as uncluttered as possible. If major
made in the environment, the impaired students should be told and allowed
explore the new area.
Modify activities and equipment where necessary. Use audible bells,
ropes for running, larger equipment and for the buddy system.
Stand near the impaired student so that instructions can be seen and
Provide arm support, if needed, on jumping activities.
Use touch to demonstrate body movements.
It is helpful to use your student's name before giving instructions.
Use descriptive verbal instruction. Say what it is you are actually
body oriented language. ( Example: When teaching to hop, say "Stand
left foot, raise your right foot, and jump in the air on your left
Use directional words and landmarks in the playing area to direct a
student. (Example "Walk to the door, turn toward the window using a
Use movement as a mode of learning. Guide, but do not over protect, the
Vision plays an important part of maintaining balance. A lack of vision
affects movement and coordination of a visually impaired student.
Use additional helpers if needed.
Encourage students to work as independently as possible so they do not
over-reliant on assistance.
Break skills into small steps.
Standard equipment can be adapted to meet the needs of visually
Consider visually impaired students special needs in all planning.
Seek support from specialist teachers, other teachers, and
ADAPTIONS: DEVELOPMENT OF FUNDAMENTAL SKILLS AND GAMES
Go from less difficult to more difficult skills and breakdown skills
there component parts. (Example: Catching a ball: Bounce the student the
short distance away. Gradually increase the distance, but eliminate the
Then increase the distance again.)
Limit playing space-this allows for greater involvement for the
without greatly changing the experience for the sighted participants.
Slow the action - use a balloon instead of a ball.
Use larger or smaller playing objects. They can be seen better by the
Also, targets can moved closer or made larger.
Use proper lighting and color contrast. A ball can be taped with
tape to contrast with the floor and walls. Color tape can be used to mark
playing areas on the floor or walls.
Tag games-use bells on the person who is "It".
Boundaries-Change the floors texture. Example: Use of a rug or rubber
on the floor to mark space where exercises are done. Place a rubber carpet
runner next to the wall so that child knows when he steps onto the changed
surface that he has stepped out of bounds. The change in surface also
warning to the student that a wall or object is coming up so he needs to
down and stop.
Throwing and catching-Give the receiver a sound clue. Bounce the ball
of throwing it directly. Use different types of balls, such as nerf or
lessen the impact when hit with the ball. Balloons also slow down the
When throwing at a target, provide a sound behind the target (e.g.;
Striking and Hitting- Use ball on a tee, a large whiffle ball and an
bat. Ball can be rolled on a table or the floor. Bells can be put inside
ball to be heard when rolled.
Running-Partner assists by holding hands, use brush contact (keep
hand fore arm, wrist or any part of the arm), a loop of a flexible piece of
material can be held guide runner and the impaired student. Run to caller's
voice for a short run. Student can run by self-holding onto a rope
between two points. Put tape on the rope at the end so the student can
return to the starting point in a shuttle run.
Modify the environment-Use colored balls, mats, cones and goals.
Familiarize a visually impaired or blind student with any hazards. Show
student the safest routes to and from the various areas.
Always keep verbal contact with the visually impaired/blind
Ensure safety rules are known and followed by all students.
Try to ensure lighting conditions match the needs of the visually
In unfamiliar surroundings, student may be disoriented and lack
The teacher may need to establish an understanding of the activity and the
safety precautions needed.
Where necessary provide one-to-one or small group support.
Alert student to the location of any obstacle--such as goal-posts--in
areas, on floor, and at head height.
Bright sunlight or dark days may alter the student's visual
In conclusion, well-planned physical activities that utilize appropriate
equipment maximize a person's abilities and minimize any special
may face. Adapting a game or activity increases the opportunity for fun,
development and self-confidence. Learning a new sport or recreational
improves the quality of a person's life that has a visual impairment and
a general sense of well being and competence.
Bibliography: The Sports Council and the Royal National Institute for
Blind Looking into PE: Guidelines for teaching PE to Children with a Visual
Impairment NJ Commission for the Blind Various pamphlets and handouts
Montagnino, JR, Education Counselor