How to Teach Blind People to Swim

Written by a. low | 13/05/2017
How to Teach Blind People to Swim
With goggles, students with limited sight can see colour contrasts underwater. (swimming image by kmhgrl from

Most teaching methods for swimming only need slight adjustments to be applied to blind students. A great swimming program for a blind swimmer should give him a sense of safety, pride and enjoyment. Safety will be the first priority with a beginning swimmer, especially when it comes to swimming with others, working with lane lines and turning over at the wall. Regardless of the student's level of blindness, one rule is consistent: visually impaired students need to make a mental record of physical (kinesthetic) movement before they can do something by themselves. Therefore, you must put emphasis on physically and verbally demonstrating movements of all body parts in order for a blind student to fully grasp swimming techniques.

Attain relevant medical information about the student. Knowing the student's specific disability, strengths, weaknesses and experience in the water will alter the structure of your program.

Focus on teaching through kinesthetic motion. Have the student feel your arms or legs as they perform a stroke--blind students will learn best when they've memorised the feel of muscles acting something out.

Use detailed verbal descriptions to explain movements.

Compensate if there is an echo in the pool area. An echo may hinder the student's ability to comprehend what you say, so you may need to speak louder or move closer to the student or group.

Manipulate the student's body by acting as the water resistance and moving his arms or legs in appropriate directions.

Use brightly coloured lane lines to minimise injury when the swimmer is first learning.

Instruct the student to keep her arm extended as she nears the end of the lane to avoid a head collision with the wall.

Provide poles for the student to use when exploring different water depths or jumping into the pool.

Provide flippers to the student to boost confidence and allow for more ease when moving through the water.

Use buoys or toys that contrast in colour to the water (if the student is not completely blind).

Provide goggles to the partially blind since they can help a student to distinguish shapes or light in the water.

Things you need

  • Student's medical information
  • Goggles
  • Flippers
  • Safe or brightly coloured lane dividers
  • Buoys
  • Toys
  • Lightweight poles of various heights

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