our everyday life

Outdoor Adaptations for Children Who Are Blind

by Scott Thompson

By making a few adaptations to the play area, equipment or rules, you can make it possible for a blind child to participate in a variety of outdoor activities. Children who are blind can get exercise, have fun and educational experiences, and socialize with other kids their own age instead of sitting inside while other kids play.

Adaptations Based On Touch

To make it easier for a blind child to participate in outdoor sports and games, use a smaller play area with clearly defined boundaries. According to the Visual Impairment Knowledge Center, you can mark the boundary with three to four rows of tape with rope or cord underneath them. When the child steps on the cord under the tape, he will be able to tell he's moving out of bounds even though he can't see the line.

Adaptations Based On Sound

Blind children can play games including baseball or basketball by using modified equipment. For instance, one popular game for blind children is called "beep baseball." This game uses a baseball modified to make a beeping sound so blind kids can use their hearing to locate it. Bases and goals can also be modified to beep or play a recording. A low-tech alternative is to have a person at each base calling out its location or to have someone standing at the boundary to warn players who are getting too close. In target sports such as archery, you can attach balloons to the target so they'll pop when struck. The Blind Children's Resource Center suggests playing a version of volleyball where kids bounce the ball off a wall so blind children can hear it.

Rule Adaptations

In games including both blind and sighted children, the blind players might move more slowly than the sighted players, making game play difficult. To get around this complication, the Visual Impairment Knowledge Center suggests modifying the rules to slow all of the players down to the same pace. For instance, you can specify that all players must crawl or hop on one foot, or you can team up sighted players with blind players and have a rule that pairs must stay together. In games such as baseball, you can give the blind players extra strikes.

Instruction

When explaining how to play a game or perform an outdoor activity, the Blind Children's Resource Center suggests using your hands to move the blind child's hands through the correct set of actions. You should also give the blind child the opportunity to hold the ball or other pieces of equipment for a few minutes before you start to play. When you're giving instructions, use clear and specific language that doesn't depend on sight. Phrases like "throw the ball over there" would be likely to confuse a blind child, but "throw the ball toward the sound of Jimmy's voice" should be easy to understand.

Photo Credits

  • Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images