Date of Award

7-2004

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Education (MSEd)

Department

Kinesiology, Sport Studies and Physical Education

Abstract

The purpose of this study was threefold: (1) to gather information about how athletes with sensory impairments are socialized into sport, (2) to why they continue to participate and compete, (3) to what barriers, if any, they faced due to their blindness or visual impairment.

Interview data were gathered from 32 elite athletes (22 males and 10 females) who competed in the 3rd Pan Am Games for the Blind. Pa1ticipants ranged in age from 17-50 (M=27.5 years). Under the classification system used by the ISBA, 1 2 of the participants were classified B1, 7 were classified B2, and 13 were classified B3. The interview protocol included open and closed-ended questions about personal attributes, socializing agents, socializing situations and barriers they faced and are currently confronted with.

The participants became involved in sports between the ages of 7 and 36 (M=16.6 years). Over 80% of the participants attended public schools (K-12) with inclusive physical education classes. The other 20% either attended a segregated school for the blind or both types of schools. Results indicated family as the most important socializing agent during childhood, friends during adolescence, and the athletes themselves and coaches’ currently. These results are consistent with other developmental research studies. During all three stages examined (childhood, adolescence, and present), mothers were more influential than any other agent regardless of the participant’s gender.

The three major barriers when the participants first began playing sports were perceived perceptions of others, transportation, and lack of confidence. Currently, the barriers are cost of participation, lack of participants, and perceived perceptions of others.

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