Smart Sport Assistance

Smart Sport Assistance (SSA) for visually impaired children

Regular exercise and sport can benefit everyone's physical and mental health and is associated with increased life satisfaction. Accordingly, everyone should be enabled to participate in exercise and sport, for which in schools the subject of Physical Education is responsible.

However, Physical Education is often perceived as a field with particularly diverse barriers to participation. Pupils with disabilities frequently describe feelings of not belonging, they show reduced movement intensity and present with delays in motor development. Students with blindness and visual impairments are particularly affected. They often report feelings of frustration and disappointment to the point that blind and partially sighted adults in retrospect see Physical Education classes as a missed opportunity for physical activity and, as a result, are less active later in life. Modern technical systems can help to break down barriers to participation by facilitating the perception and communication of information. They can make it possible for those affected to practice forms of exercise or sports that would otherwise remain inaccessible to them. However, it is important for the acceptance and sustainable use of such technical support that the target group is closely involved in the development process and that the systems are based on their real lives and needs.

Smart Sport Assistance aims to break down these participation barriers as far as possible and to promote physical activity of blind and visually impaired children and adolescents. For this purpose, pupils with and without blindness and visual impairment will work together to develop assistance systems using current technologies. The development process follows the "open innovation" principle, which provides for a constant exchange of information between all students involved. On the one hand, this principle ensures the greatest possible application orientation of the developed assistance systems, which are based on the needs of the students. On the other hand, it helps to create sensitivity for blindness and visual impairment as well as associated movement opportunities among those who are not impaired.

(Photocredit © Institut für Sportwissenschaft/Universität Wien)