"The more exposure you get to professionals, to resources, the better you're going to become": Physical educators' perceptions and experiences of teaching students with mobility disabilities


Physical activity (PA) for children with mobility disabilities increases strength, mental function, and health (Murphy & Carbone, 2008). This population has limited PA opportunities due to lack of transportation, poor facilities, improper equipment, and fear of injury (Lieberman et al., 2008). Therefore, school systems, and specifically physical educators, play an integral role in promoting PA for students with mobility disabilities (SMD; Block & Obrusnikova, 2016). Haegele et al. (2018) surveyed physical educators' perspectives of adapted physical education (PE), noting some variables (e.g., funding) acted as both facilitators and barriers. The authors suggested an in-depth exploration (e.g., qualitatively) to better understand how relevant factors that serve as facilitators and barriers might influence PE experiences for SMD. Thus, the purpose of this study was to explore physical educators' perceptions and experiences of the barriers and facilitators of offering PE to SMD. Eleven K-8 PE teachers engaged in semi-structured interviews (M = 43 minutes). After transcribing interviews verbatim, we inductively coded data that resulted in three themes contextualizing descriptors as facilitators, barriers, or both: (1) teacher development and planning (e.g., how adapted PE knowledge is present or needed, and how accommodations can be easy or challenging), (2) psychosocial environment and student engagement (e.g., how integrating students without mobility disabilities can be safe or dangerous, and beneficial or harmful), and (3) support and resources (e.g., how teacher aides can be helpful or burdensome, and how facilities enhance or restrict adapted PE). As a discussion, we offer practical recommendations for improving PE experiences for SMD.

Acknowledgments: Indiana University Kokomo Grant-in-Aid Program; Indiana University Kokomo Undergraduate Research Program