CVI and adapted physical education (APE)

Megan O’Connell-Copp and Maebh Barry discuss how to meaningfully engage students with CVI in physical activities and sports, along with ideas for how to advocate for your child with CVI.

What is APE and what does it look like for kids with CVI?

CVI Now hosted a live virtual event on CVI and Adapted Physical Education (APE), held on May 11, 2021. Megan O’Connell-Copp, coordinator for the Physical Education department at Perkins, and Maebh Barry, Adapted Physical Education teacher in the Deafblind program at Perkins, discussed:

Parents and professionals will feel empowered to advocate on behalf of their child or student with CVI to ensure the child has access to a healthy, active and physically engaging life.

The biggest takeaways: Consistently consider the goal of an activity, the individual needs of the student, and the multiple ways the students can work on a skill. There is no one-size-fits-all when teaching specific PE skills. Collaboration with the TVI and school team is critical to incorporate CVI supports and adaptations to allow full access and engagement. 

Previewing information and expectations for a task is helpful for many kids with CVI. Many of the CVI visual behaviors make it hard for kids with CVI to use visual cues to anticipate what to expect in an activity. Maebh Barry shares one example of a visual warm-up for one of her students. Before a golf activity, Maebh shows a golf ball against a blackboard, talks about what it is and its purpose, discusses the visual and tactile features, allows the child to explore it, and drops it a few times to hear the sound it makes. This warm-up allowed the student to gain context and an anchor for what they were about to do. As a result, the student was able to engage meaningfully and follow the motion of the ball when they hit it!

Download an example of a preview activity, “Fun with Balls,” created by Megan O’Connell-Copp. This PowerPoint Presentation uses a simple background, spacing, color, motion, realistic images, and sound to support visual access. 

More about our APE experts

Megan O’Connell-Copp is the coordinator for the Physical Education Department at Perkins. She earned an undergraduate degree in physical education and a master’s degree in adapted physical education with a concentration in early childhood blindness.  She started her journey at Camp Abilities, a developmental sports camp for kids who are blind and visually impaired. Since 2000, she has been teaching adapted physical education and coordinating sports camps throughout the country for kids who are blind and visually impaired. In 2018, she joined Perkins and enjoys being a part of the coaching, aquatics, enrichment, community outreach, and recreational programs that are offered to students.  
Maebh Barry is an Adapted Physical Education teacher in the Deafblind program at Perkins providing adapted physical education to students aged 3 to 22 years who are Deafblind, Deaf or have multiple disabilities. Maebh has a degree in Sports Studies and Physical Education and a Masters in Adapted Physical Education. Outside of her day-to-day teaching duties, Maebh also coaches aquatics, track and field, and goalball at Perkins—and is a coach at Camp Abilities. Maebh is passionate about teaching and believes in providing modified, yet equal opportunities to all individuals regardless of their ability level. 

Tune in to more videos: CVI and AAC, CVI and O&M, CVI and Math, CVI and AT, and Accessible and meaningful learning for students with CVI

CVI parents: got questions? Join the CVI Now Parent Group to ask your questions, access live virtual events, and connect with other families.