Future Reflections                                                                                         Summer/Fall 2005

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Independent Travel at the Swimming Pool or at the Beach


Editor’s Note: Engaging independently in sports or recreational activities is an appropriate and achievable goal for all blind kids. However, I am often baffled when I see kids being escorted by a sighted guide to and from such activities. I don’t get it: wouldn’t the freedom and joy of the sport be even further enhanced if blind kids also had the skills and confidence to walk to and from, or in and around, the sport environment by themselves? The following chapter from Doris Willoughby’s and Sharon Monthei’s book, Modular Instruction for Independent Travel for Student Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired: Preschool Through High School, addresses that very question. So, if you are getting all psyched about signing your kid up for swimming lessons this summer, don’t forget that true independence includes learning how to travel and move about in the locker room, the showers, the snack stand, the picnic area, and poolside as much as it does independently swimming in the pool! Here are the practical steps you can take to make that possible:

Terry Van Ettinger uses the cane to become familiar with a hotel pool area before taking a plunge.

Terry Van Ettinger uses the cane to become familiar with a hotel pool area before taking a plunge.

Module 85: Swimming Pool and Beach
Objective: The student will detect step-downs and drop-offs with the cane, and
proceed appropriately.

Objective: The student will walk on varied surfaces, including sand, pebbles, and grassy hills.

Objective: When planning to engage in a sport, the student will use the cane to a point as close as practical, and then stow it appropriately during the activity.

Age of Student: Preschool and up (This Module is presented as for the intermediate grades.)

Primary Skill Emphasis:
• Varied terrain
• Detecting step-downs or drop-offs
• Boundaries
• Landmarks
• Stowing cane
• Purchase or transaction

Additional Skill Emphasis:
• Emergency procedures
• Barefoot walking
• Sound direction and meaning
• Interpreting odors
• Air currents and echoes
• Weather and temperature
• Examining things tactually
• In a crowd or a line
• Hills and inclines
• Open space
• Meeting the public
• Careers

See Also (Other Modules):

Remarks: It may or may not be practical to get into the pool during a lesson. But it is easy to practice the associated skills around the pool, and to discuss actual swimming.

Caution: A teacher who is not a qualified swimming instructor should never take a student into the water (even shallow water) without a lifeguard present. Also, a teacher should not go alone with a student where help could not be found quickly if the
student fell in.

In all activities below, a young or inexperienced student should be accompanied closely at all times.


Example 1: Public Swimming Pool
(This description assumes the pool is with a large apartment complex. The general approach is the same for a beach, river, or public pool.)

Example 2: Swimming Classes at School

Example 3: The Beach


David Walker. “Hook, Line, and Golf Balls.” National Federation of the Blind.

Editor’s Note: Published by the National Federation of the Blind, Modular Instruction is available for $20 plus $9 shipping and handling. Readers may place a credit card order with the NFB Materials Center by fax at (410) 685-5653 or by phone at (410) 659-9314. Checks made payable to the NFB may be mailed with a request for Modular Instruction for Independent Travel for Students Who are Blind or Visually Impaired: Preschool Through High School (order number LSA01P) to NFB Materials Center, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230. This information applies to print orders within the continental USA only. For information about alternative formats or the cost for shipping to Alaska, Hawaii, USA territories, and to other countries, please contact the NFB Materials Center by mail, phone, fax, or by email at <[email protected]>.

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