Academic journal article Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness

Promoting Leisure-Time Physical Activity for Students with Visual Impairments Using Generalization Tactics

Academic journal article Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness

Promoting Leisure-Time Physical Activity for Students with Visual Impairments Using Generalization Tactics

Article excerpt

Important and favorable health effects of physical activity have been well documented. Regular physical activity for adults has been linked to decreases in the risk of several chronic diseases, including coronary heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, anxiety, depression, and obesity (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2011). Developing a physically active lifestyle at an early age can help decrease chances of developing these health-related problems during childhood and later in life (CDC, 2011).

Unfortunately, school-aged individuals who are visually impaired tend to be less physically active than their peers without visual impairments (Haegele & Porretta, 2015a). Further, among individuals with disabilities, those with visual impairments tend to be among the least active (Longmuir & Bar-Or, 2000). Because individuals with visual impairments are less physically active than their peers without disabilities or with disabilities other than visual impairment, they are at greater risk for experiencing health-related problems, such as obesity (Haegele & Porretta, 2015a).

According to Pan, Frey, Bar-Or, & Longmuir (2005), the most likely environment for school-aged individuals with disabilities, including those with visual impairments, to learn about participation in physical activities is in physical education (PE) classes. Well-designed PE programs encourage students to become physically literate individuals who are active and healthy throughout their lives (Society of Health and Physical Educators [SHAPE], 2014). With proper planning and support from teachers of students who are visually impaired and orientation and mobility instructors, PE can also contribute to components of the expanded core curriculum (Lieberman, Haegele, Columna, & Conroy, 2014).

Although PE positively influences student physical activity participation during school hours, however, research suggests that school-based programs tend to have less of an impact on students' participation in physical activity outside of school (Kriemler et al., 2011). Students may be less active outside of school because of difficulties in transferring skills learned during PE to other settings. This is also known as difficulty with generalization.

GENERALIZATION

Generalization refers to the use of newly acquired skills or behaviors in non-training environments (Cooper, Heron, & Heward, 2007). Although students with visual impairments learn skills to participate in physical activities during their PE classes, they may have difficulty using those skills in other settings, at other times, or with other people. Therefore, the generalization of skills learned during PE may not be occurring. In order to ensure generalization, school personnel, including PE teachers, teachers of students who are visually impaired, and orientation and mobility (O&M) professionals, can plan to train students who are visually impaired for generalization during PE and throughout the school day.

Cooper and colleagues (2007) identify 13 tactics that can effectively promote generalized behavior change. These tactics are typically used to help students transfer skills mastered in the classroom to independent use in other places or situations, at different times, or in new creative ways (Alber-Morgan, 2010). PE teachers, teachers of students who are visually impaired, and O&M specialists can promote physical activity participation in environments outside of PE by embedding some of these generalization tactics into the school day. Therefore, the purpose of this report is to describe how educators can use generalization tactics to promote leisure-time physical activity.

PROMOTING LEISURE-TIME PHYSICAL ACTIVITY USING GENERALIZATION TACTICS

The following sections will briefly describe how four of the 13 generalization tactics identified by Cooper and colleagues (2007) can be utilized to promote leisure-time physical activity for school-aged individuals with visual impairments. …

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