Academic journal article Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness

Physical Education Experiences at Residential Schools for Students Who Are Blind: A Phenomenological Inquiry

Academic journal article Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness

Physical Education Experiences at Residential Schools for Students Who Are Blind: A Phenomenological Inquiry

Article excerpt

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA-IA; 2004) requires that physical education be made available to children with disabilities, and that it include specially designed classes, if necessary, to meet students' unique needs. Properly implemented physical education programs encourage students to be physically active during the school day (Lieberman, Ponchillia, & Ponchillia, 2013), and develop fundamental skills that are necessary to engage in and maintain an active and healthy lifestyle (Schedlin, Lieberman, Houston-Wilson, & Cruz, 2012). These benefits are available to all students who actively participate in class, including those with visual impairments (that is, those with low vision and complete blindness). For students with visual impairments, well-designed physical education programs, with support from teachers of students who are visually impaired and orientation and mobility instructors, can also offer opportunities to learn components of the expanded core curriculum (Lieberman, Haegele, Columna, & Conroy, 2014). While properly conceptualized physical education classes can yield positive benefits, poorly planned classes may contribute to adverse effects such as delays in motor competence concepts (for example, object control and locomotor skills; Haegele, Brian, & Goodway, 2015), low physical activity participation (Haegele & Porretta, 2015), and low levels of health-related fitness (Lieberman, Byrne, Mattern, Watt, & Fernandez-Vivo, 2010).

Research focusing on physical education for students with visual impairments has typically concentrated on the perspectives of stakeholders, such as physical education teachers (Lieberman, Houston-Wilson, & Kozub, 2002) and parents (Perkins, Columna, Lieberman, & Bailey, 2013; Stuart, Lieberman, & Hand, 2006). Briefly, findings from this line of research suggest that students with visual impairments tend to experience a number of barriers to participation in physical education. These barriers can include a lack of trained physical education teachers and paraeducators who understand the needs of students with visual impairments (Lieberman & Conroy, 2013; Stuart et al., 2006) as well as limited physical activity opportunities both within and outside of schools (Perkins et al., 2013). Fortunately, research has suggested that physical education programs designed to overcome these barriers, tailored for the needs of those with visual impairments, can improve physical activity levels (Cervantes & Porretta, 2013) and increase motor competence (Haegele et al., 2015).

Although research focusing on physical education for individuals with disabilities has typically examined the perspectives of stakeholders, recent research has shifted to value the perspectives of those with disabilities regarding their experiences in physical activity contexts (Byrnes & Rickards, 2011). By acknowledging how individuals with visual impairments perceive the world, more insight can be given into how they experience different aspects of life (Haegele & Sutherland, 2015). For instance, understanding one's thoughts and feelings about physical education can lead to a better understanding of how they experience classes and can help identify strategies to improve instruction (Coates, 2011). This focus is primarily situated within the qualitative research paradigm, as it allows those with disabilities a voice to describe experiences and opinions from their perspectives (Zitomer & Goodwin, 2014). Currently, research exploring physical education experiences from the perspectives of students has included those with physical disabilities (Coates & Vickerman, 2008), learning disabilities (Fitzgerald, Jobling, & Kirk, 2003), and autism spectrum disorder (Healy, Msetfi, & Gallagher, 2013). However, little has been done to explore the perspectives of individuals with visual impairments.

In this study, we focus on five adults with visual impairments and their reflections of experiences in physical education at residential schools for students who are blind. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.