Teaching non-normative bodies: Simulating visual impairments as embodied pedagogy in action


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In an attempt to better prepare prospective PE teachers for teaching pupils with disabilities, our research takes up the call of Sparkes, A., Martos-Garcia, D., & Maher, A. (2019). Me, Imperfect Osteogenesis and my classmates in physical education lessons: A case study of embodied pedagogy in action. Sport, Education and Society, 24(4), 338–348 [for an accumulation of ‘case studies involving teacher educators attempting to put embodied pedagogy into action’ (p. 10). We used snapshot vignettes to reflect on our experiences of delivering learning activities that endeavoured to enable 90 prospective PE teachers to (1) simulate visual impairment (VI); and (2) plan and deliver learning activities to peers who were simulating VI. Our discussion centres on the authenticity of simulations and the pedagogical development of prospective PE teachers. From our observations, we remain sceptical about the extent to which the non-disabled Self can empathise with the disabled Other through embodied simulation because of the ease at which the Self could and would step out of the shoes of the Other by removing blindfolds. This disrupted attempts to blur the lines between the prospective PE teachers’ Self and the disabled Other, and thus the extent to which knowledge of the disabled Other in PE was embodied. We did observe, however, some positive pedagogical developments during simulations. These included increased: clarity and precision of verbal instructions; use of pedagogical touch; knowledge of how to adapt learning activities; and critical thought about the concept of educational inclusion. To finish, we argue that the simulation of VI appears to impact positively of the inclusive pedagogies of our prospective teachers, but we call for future research that explores the ethics of these simulations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)530-542
Number of pages13
JournalSport, Education and Society
Issue number5
Early online date13 May 2019
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jun 2020


  • Disability
  • visual impairment
  • Simulation
  • Embodied pedagogy
  • teacher education
  • embodied pedagogy
  • simulation


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