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AFBAmerican Foundation®
for the Blind

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Collaborating for Physical Education of Students Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

Moving to Learn webinar series from AFB Press and AER

An excerpt from the webinar, Moving to Learn: An Overview of Adapted PE presented by Lauren J. Lieberman and available in the AFB eLearning Center.

For a student who is blind or visually impaired to have a successful physical education experience in school, it is critical that the vision teacher, the orientation and mobility instructor, AND the physical education teacher all work together to identify appropriate adaptations so that the child can enjoy sports and recreational activities. The first thing they should do is share information about the student.

  • What can the child see?
  • What are his/her visual acuities?
  • What is the distance he/she can see?
  • What can they see in the visual field?
  • How does the child ambulate? Will he/she need a cane or sighted guide?
  • Does the child have other physical disabilities that will affect the way they participate in physical education?
a visually impaired runner racing with a guide, using a tether

This kind of information will help the physical education teacher provide appropriate demonstrations and instruction. At the beginning of the school year, the vision teacher and the O&M teacher should also ask for a copy of the curriculum, so they know all the units of instruction that will occur throughout the school year. This information should let the whole team know not only what will be taught, but when. The O&M instructor and vision teacher will help connect the physical education teacher to places where they can purchase the necessary adaptive sports equipment, such as the American Printing House for the Blind. Other ways the team can work together include:

  • Training a paraeducator to work with the child with visual impairment in physical education class.
  • Modifying the environment, for example adding red tape to a white floor so the student can see the boundaries.
  • Implementing disability awareness with peers, so they understand why modifications are being made to games, why a child needs to be guided a certain way, or why a ball needs to have bells in it.
  • Communicating regularly about instruction, and identifying any plans that may need to be modified to fit the changing needs of the student.
  • Helping the child get involved in extra-curricular, after school sports.

Collaborating and communicating may require some creativity, especially when the members of the team must stay in touch remotely. But it is essential to ensuring the physical health and ability of the student, and sets an excellent example of the importance of teamwork in any situation.

To purchase the entire webinar, or the other webinars in the Moving to Learn series, please go to www.afb.org/store.

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