Social Benefits of Recess for Individuals with Visual Impairments Camryn Dodson , Longwood University Undergraduate Student Matthew D. Lucas , Ed.D., Professor of Physical and Health Education, Longwood University

Introduction All licensedpubliceducationprofessionalshaveheardofVisual Impairments (VI). It is in their teacher preparation programs. However, are all teachers comfortable working with students with VI? Have they done this in their pre-service teaching? It is very likely that classroom elementary teachers will have the opportunity to teach children with VI at some point during their teaching career. It is the responsibility of the educators and administrators to provide students with services that will meet the needs of all of their disabilities. What should these teachers know about VI? What are characteristics of children with this impairment? What are instructionally sound practices for working with children with a VI? What are the social needs of children with VI? What are the benefits for students with VI being activity involved in the recess setting? The authors have posed many questions. It is their intention to provide suggestions to teachers to allow for active social participation of students with VI in the recess setting. Definition of Visual Impairment Generally, the term VI is used to describe any difficulty in seeing, whether it be a complete lack of vision or partial vision loss. Visual Impairments in a child can be present at birth or manifest later in life. Vision impairment is classified into two groups, distance and near presenting vision impairment, both of which are based upon visual acuity as noted below (World Health Organization, 2021). Distance vision impairment: • Mild –visual acuity worse than 6/12 to 6/18 • Moderate –visual acuity worse than 6/18 to 6/60 • Severe –visual acuity worse than 6/60 to 3/60 • Blindness –visual acuity worse than 3/60 Near vision impairment: • Near visual acuity worse than N6 or M.08 at 40cm (World Health Organization,2021, para 2). The definition of VI in terms of special education in the school setting is stated in the Individuals with Disabilities EducationAct in the following manner: Visual impairment, including blindness, means an impairment in vision that, even with correction, adversely affects a child’s educational performance. The term includes both partial sight and blindness [§300.8(c)(13)] (IDEA, 2004). Prevalence and Causes Globally, at least 2.2 billion people have a near or distance vision impairment. In the US an estimated three-quarters of a million children and young adults ages 0-22 years have a VI (Perkins School for the Blind, 2017, para 9). Focusing on school

aged children with a VI, the authors find that an estimated 6.8% of children in the United States have aVI (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2017, para 3). Cortical Visual Impairment (CVI) is the most common cause of VI in children (World Health Organization, 2021, para 4). Other leading causes of VI in US children include Retinopathy of Prematurity, Optic Nerve Hypoplasia, and Albinism (World Health Organization, 2021, para 4). Other global causes include the following: • Uncorrected refractive errors • Cataract • Age-related macular degeneration • Glaucoma • Diabetic retinopathy • Corneal opacity • Trachoma (National Library of Medicine, 2021, para 4). Compared to other disabilities prevalent in schools, VI is low, however it should not be ignored. Why The Recess Setting is Beneficial Recess is a regularly scheduled period in the school day for physical activity and play that is monitored by trained staff or volunteers. Recess affords a time to play, imagine, think, move, and socialize. During recess, students are encouraged to be physically active and engaged with their peers in activities of their choice (Kovar, 2012). The benefits of recess include: • Improving students social and emotional development (e.g., learning how to share and negotiate) • Increasing the level of physical activity of students. • Improving the memory, attention, and concentration of students

• Helping students stay on-task in the classroom. • Reducing disruptive behavior in the classroom

• Improves heart/lung fitness • Improves movement skills • Improves muscular strength

• Provides a break from studying • Builds decision-making skills • Develops relationships with peers • Creates self-confidence (Kovar, 2012).

It is the belief of the authors that socialization is the most important benefit of recess. Recess provides students with an environment to develop social skills that are otherwise not seen in a more structured classroom or physical education class environment. Through play at recess, children learn valuable communication skills, such as negotiation, cooperation, sharing, problem solving skills, as well as coping skills, such as perseverance and self-control through peer interactions. When


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