Physical Education and Sports for Students with Blindness or Low Vision

Many students with blindness or low vision are uncomfortable in gym classes because most activities require eye-hand coordination, quick visual responses, and coordinated eye-motor skills. Physical education teachers may overlook blind/low-vision students’ sports participation. Children are often relegated to scorekeeping or timekeeping roles. They don’t get to play with their classmates regularly, and they don’t get a chance to develop their physical skills. It doesn’t have to be this way.

Help Your Blind Child Make the Grade in Physical Education

Given the increased rate of obesity observed among children today, helping your child have success in PE class or in other organized sports is important if he is going to grow into a healthy, active teen and young adult.

If you’re concerned about your child getting enough physical activity in school, consider initiating a dialogue with members of the educational team. Specifically, focus on conversations with the TVI (Teacher of the Visually Impaired) and the orientation and mobility instructor. Engaging with these professionals can provide tailored strategies and support for your child’s physical activity needs. Ask them to spend time observing your child in PE and recommend to the PE teacher how to help your child participate more fully.

  • Talk to the TVI about special equipment to help your child join in sports. This might mean using a bell inside a soccer ball or picking a bright volleyball. They might also recommend putting bright tape on important spots or an auditory cue like a beeper.
  • Find out which sports your child will try in gym or after-school programs. Practice these sports together at home. If you’re not sporty, get help from a friend or family member. They can teach skills like throwing a ball or diving. This one-on-one practice boosts your child’s confidence. It prepares them for playing with sighted kids.
  • Consider talking to the TVI and PE teachers about adding noncompetitive activities to gym class. Dance and gymnastics are good options. They are fun and don’t have to be competitive.

Participating with Peers

Sometimes, your child might join in an activity partly. For instance, Chuck could excel as a server in volleyball but not catch balls from the opposite team. Just as baseball has pinch hitters and runners, volleyball can adapt too.

If your child is open to it, suggest they help demonstrate new activities in gym class. This gives them direct involvement and understanding. Also, for running exercises in PE, your child could run with a guide. They would run together, each holding one end of a guide rope. The guide communicates about turns and obstacles.

Accessible Sports

Two sports have been developed to enable children with blindness or low vision to play with their sighted teammates equally.

  • Beep baseball uses auditory bases and a ball with a built-in sound cue. Blindfolds are provided for all players, except the pitcher.
  • Goalball: Three players per team play Goalball on a court, all blindfolded. One team rolls a bell-equipped ball toward the other, defending their goal line.

When sports, fitness, and recreation become part of a youngster’s life at this stage in development, there are often long-lasting health benefits. Being active as one enters adulthood can lead to a number of advantages, including health and an attractive physique. You can help your child build a strong foundation to enjoy sports and recreational activities throughout life.