Four Outdoor Recreational Activities For The Blind Or Visually Impaired

Labor Day is many people’s last opportunity to have some outdoor fun. School is starting, summer vacation is over, and routines are switching back to what we consider our “regular schedule.” But the long weekend holiday provides a final chance for enjoying summer activities before the weather finally changes to fall.

If you are blind, or visually impaired, people may think that you don’t prefer to navigate activities that take place in the vast expanse of nature. Or even the smaller expanse of your yard. That’s why we’ve put together a list of four outdoor recreational activities for the blind or visually impaired. You can share it with your party-planning friends, or use it for your own reference.

Riding A Tandem Bike

“You’ll look sweet upon the seat of a bicycle built for two!”  Tandem bikes allow you to enjoy the recreational benefits of biking while having a navigational guide. Pedaling can provide exercise, but if you have physical limitations, you can also choose to allow the other biker to do most of the propulsion.

Tandem biking is also a good opportunity for socialization. You can enjoy the company of just the person you are riding with, or you can invite a group of friends to join you.

Tandem bikes are available online and at many bike shops and sporting goods stores. They can be as basic or as fancy as you like. If you don’t already own one, you may want to consider making the investment. Or, if you just want to enjoy an afternoon ride over a holiday, check with local stores to see if they have a bike rental program.

Yoga

For a more solitary, peaceful outdoor activity, you may enjoy yoga. Yoga strengthens muscles, improves balance, and helps you practice concentration. Yoga can be done indoors or outdoors, but when the weather is nice, an outdoor session will allow you to experience the soothing sounds and feelings of nature.

And while yoga is often used as a solitary relaxation exercise, if you are in the mood, you could join a group for outdoor yoga, or invite friends to come over and have a yoga session in your yard or at a local park.

Some people are experienced at yoga and able to use a traditional yoga mat, but another good option for the blind or visually impaired is a braille and tactile yoga mat. The Yoga Mat for the Visually Impaired is three dimensional. It has raised and depressed features, called “stations,” that are strategically placed to indicate where the user’s hands, feet, or head should be placed. These stations cover positions for all 24 of the basic yoga poses.

Five-A-Side Soccer

When the weather is nice, a pick-up game of soccer in your yard or local park can be fun.  It’s a great activity to do while waiting for the food to grill during your long-weekend holiday get-together. While you could just kick the ball around, using the five-a-side model gives you a more organized way to play with a smaller group of friends.

In five-a-side, there are four outfield players and a goalkeeper. The rules are flexible because it’s often played informally, and you can adapt your rules to the environment and any special needs. Goals are smaller than in traditional soccer, and game duration is shorter, so you won’t miss dinner to finish out your match. When playing while visually impaired, blindfolds are used to make sure that no one of the players has a visual advantage over the others.

Industry-standard soccer balls with bells are available that allow everyone to know where the ball is whenever it’s in motion. Exactly the same size and weight as a pro ball, these regulation soccer balls provide a consistent soccer experience for everyone, no matter their soccer background or physical abilities.

Basketball

Basketball is an almost seasonless sport. If you grew up with a goal in your driveway, or down the street from a local park, you know that kids will play it in the sweltering heat, or with snow banks piled ‘round. Basketball keeps you in almost constant motion and is one of the most popular Paralympic sports. And basketball has been adapted for the visually impaired through the use of buzzers and bells.

When playing an adapted game of bell basketball, it’s best to limit the court size. That makes bell basketball very suitable for driveway or cul-de-sac games. Ground passes work best for passing the ball, because it gives the passer more control over the ball, and the sound of the bounce gives an auditory clue to the receiver.

You can quickly turn any basketball hoop into and adapted one by using a bell basketball kit. The kit includes a regulation-sized basketball with internal bells. It also has a goal locator (buzzer) that can be placed on the basket, and an extra bell that can be positioned on the net to ring whenever the ball goes through it. You can use the kit on your own personal hoop, or pack it up to bring to your next get-together.

We hope you have the chance to spend time outdoors with your friends and family before that last bit of summer fades. If some of these ideas for recreation were new to you, and you didn’t have the specialized equipment necessary, don’t worry. Prepare ahead for next year and gather the supplies you need to make your next warm-weather holiday an even more enjoyable one.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

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