Sports and Exercise Tips for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired
People who are blind or visually impaired can live a sporting life and enjoy a full range of activities. Whether it’s bowling or baseball, golf or dancing, biking or martial arts, swimming or surfing, there is something for everyone.
“Physical activity is important for everyone’s health and wellbeing, and having a vision impairment is no reason to give up participating in sports or exercise,” says Ed Plumacher, adaptive technology specialist at Lighthouse Guild. Mr. Plumacher, who is legally blind and a sports enthusiast, says, “There are a wide range of activities out there for people who are blind or visually impaired to remain physically active, engage in sports, or just get out, be healthy and socialize.”
Sometimes people only think of major competitive events such as the Paralympics. However, there are opportunities to participate in sports at all levels – whether in teams or individually. People who are visually impaired can and do participate in extreme sports, such as freestyle skiing. However, for the less action-oriented, there is still plenty to choose. Tandem biking or walking, for instance. For those who want to get into competitive team sports, it’s important to know they are open to people with various degrees of vision loss. To level the playing field, some competitive sports require participants to wear a blindfold.
Cost can be a consideration that prevents people from exploring sporting activities. While it is true that there are high expenses associated with certain sports, there are also organizations who will waive fees or reduce fees for people who are blind or visually impaired. And there are low-cost camps for children, adults, and families.
Whatever the sport and whether a person is visually impaired or not, it’s important to try and avoid injuries. Wearing the appropriate clothing and protective gear and getting prompt medical attention if there is an injury is key. Lighthouse Guild also offers tips for preventing sports-related eye injuries.
Mr. Plumacher, who has participated in marathons and also enjoys snow and water skiing, beep and adaptive baseball, tandem biking, outrigger canoeing, and martial arts, encourages people to find an activity that’s right for them. There are a number of sports organizations that have programs for people who are blind or visually impaired. They include: