Visual Impairment and Physical Activity

Aug 05, 2015
Tagged with: Visual Impairment and Physical Activity

As we all know, physical activity helps in keeping us healthy and strong. From mom and dad to brother and sister, we all need to have physical activity in our daily living. But just starting to exercise can be a difficult process. It can be even more difficult when your child has a visual impairment. What basic information should I know before starting? Before we even begin learning about exercise we should first get permission from your doctor. This will give you information on any physical restrictions, if any, your child may have. Once you obtain permission you can begin. Below are 3 things to consider when working with someone with a visual impairment.

Environmental Awareness

As you begin each exercise session you want to make sure your child has an idea of the area they will be working in. For example, if you are working outdoors make sure you indicate if they are walking on cement or a grassy field. If you are working indoors you indicate how big the room is and if there are people or equipment around them. Walking around your workout area gives your child an idea of the surface they are going to work on. The more information a child has on their environment the more secure and confident they will feel about moving around.

Clear Instruction

Each exercise or activity you practice will have its own set of instructions. Those instructions can be given verbally and/or in braille. A good substitute for visual demonstrations is tactile demonstration. For example, if you would like for your child to throw a ball you would begin by having them hold the ball and feel for weight and texture. Is the ball heavy or light? Is the ball large or small? Second, you would have them practice the arm movement for throwing by placing your hand over theirs and moving their arm in the desired motion. Lastly, you can have them practice throwing at different lengths.

Promote Independence

When planning an activity or exercise you want to make sure you incorporate a plan that will help transition into independent participation. It is great to be available for support and guidance but it is also helpful to select activities that can eventually be done without any assistance. For example, yoga can first be taught by placing your child’s arms and legs in the proper position. Your child can learn the different yoga poses based on how their body feels and where their arms and legs are placed. Eventually, they will be able to practice yoga with little to no help. You can also provide tracking methods. If you are jogging in place you can play music for 30 seconds. This indicates exercise time. When the music stops your child stops exercising. Providing independence is a step towards a higher self-esteem.

Exercise is an important part of everyone’s life and it helps build a strong body and healthy mind. There are many activities that can be adapted for someone with a visual impairment. Get creative with your ideas and see what you can come up with.

What other games, activities, or exercise can you adapt?


RE:view,Fitness for individuals who are visually impaired or deafblind. Lieberman, Lauren J.. 34(1),13-8023. 2002


Author: Alfred Chavira

  • bobl07

    Outstanding piece! What is also important is that there are many activities that are inclusive so friends and peers with or without VI can participate.