The Importance of Physical Literacy for People with Disabilities

Mar 28, 2013
Tagged with: The Importance of Physical Literacy for People with Disabilities

The concept of Physical Literacy has been presented and referenced in research literature for over a decade, but I was not familiar with it until recently.  Physical Literacy is defined as, “the degree to which an individual demonstrates competency in a range of movement forms.” [i]

Patricia Maude expands the definition of Physical Literacy, calling it “the sum of movement achievements at each stage in a child’s growth and development; involving a totality of experience, particularly understanding movement and its applications.”[ii]

As a child, I did not have the complete movement experience that Ms. Maude writes about.  I did not achieve typical phases of movement.  For example, I did not stand alone as most children do at the age of 14 or 15 months old.  I also did not learn how to walk alone, without the aid of assistive devices.

In her book, Physical Children, Active Teaching: Investigating Physical Literacy, Ms. Maude explains the developmental phases of movement and offers strategies to help children develop Physical Literacy.   Physical Literacy involves developing specific movement patterns and skills.  Examples of these patterns and skills include: rolling, jumping, climbing, or swinging.[iii]

In my own research on Physical Literacy, I came across two resources that are worth examining.  One is a toolkit developed by Utah Olympic Legacy FoundationThe kit offers learning objectives and activities to help children develop Physical Literacy.

The second resource is a guide entitled Developing Physical Literacy: A Guide for Parents of Children Ages 0 to 12.  The guide was developed by Canadian Sports for Life.  It offers a framework to teach children fundamental movement skills at different developmental stages, and offers example activities to support the growth of Physical Literacy.

Canadian Sports for Life also offers resources for individuals with disabilities who want to engage in Physical Literacy and physical activity (http://www.canadiansportforlife.ca/athletes-disabilities/ltad-stages).

Because I am personally working to acquire new specific movement patterns in my walking program, I am learning about the importance of Physical Literacy and its applications to develop movement skills.  The concept of Physical Literacy and the noted resources can also be used to help build the foundational skills that support both children and adults with disabilities to successfully participate in a variety sports and recreation opportunities.

Kerry A. Wiley



[i] Chandler, T., Cronin, M., & Vamplew, W. (2002). Sport and Physical Education: The Key Concepts. London: Routledge.

Maude, P. (2001). Physical Children, Active Teaching: Investigating Physical Literacy. Philadelphia: Open University Press.

[ii] Maude, P. (2001). Physical Children, Active Teaching: Investigating Physical Literacy. Philadelphia: Open University Press.

[iii] Maude, P. (2001). Physical Children, Active Teaching: Investigating Physical Literacy. Philadelphia: Open University Press.

Image courtesy of http://www.thinklinkgraphics.com/.

Author: Kerry