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Devon’s Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Local Offer

Improving outcomes: importance of physical activity and exercise for children and young people with visual impairment

Keeping active is important for people with and without visual impairments (VI). Learners with VI often have great potential within Physical Education and sports.

Unfortunately, teaching staff may avoid the need to make adaptations in PE through asking learners with VI to ‘sit out’ or complete non-active tasks. In addition to this, parents are often not spoken to about PE and how important it is as a subject to both themselves and their child.

Learners with VI who do not take part in physical activity and exercise may risk the following:

  • A sedentary school experience resulting in weight gain, poor physical health and poor mental health.
  • Reduced upper body strength.
  • Reduced cardio endurance.
  • Poor flexibility.
  • Feelings of exclusion and mental health needs associated with this.

Improving outcomes for learners with visual impairments

Learners with VI have described feeling positive about the following approaches to physical activity and exercise at school:

  • Teachers describing instructions and actions in good detail, with additional 1:1 input when needed.
  • Teachers asking learners with VI what they need in terms of support and being guided by this (e.g. special equipment).
  • Teachers ensuring that learners with VI are able to contribute to overall team achievement, through different participatory roles.
  • Pre-teaching skills, strategies and actions prior to a PE lesson increases confidence and positive participation.
  • Teachers setting fresh physical activity / exercise challenges and goals for learners with VI frequently.
  • Teaching of key terminology relating to sports and activities so that learners with VI can converse with their peers.
  • Active participation in sports day, with specialist support from a QTVI.
  • Extra-curricular sports and clubs available – including competitive sports.

No matter what their level of vision, learners with VI should be engaging in physical activity throughout the school week – whether it is joining their peers at playtime, playing adapted sports (when safe) or using the school gym with fitness goals.

If you have any queries regarding your learner with VI and sports/PE, please get in touch with your Advisory Teacher for specialist advice and support.