19 Jul 2018
Running Line aims to increase number of people with visual impairments participating in sport.
Dr Mike Fray, of the Design School, has developed the ‘Running Line’ with the aim to help make sport more inclusive and increase the low figure of visually impaired young children, by giving them a chance to run unaccompanied.
The Running Line is a collaborative project between Dr Fray and inclusive sports coach Mark Beeby that began in 2012 when the pair identified that children with visual impairments have few opportunities to run independently. They explored various ways in which youngsters may run along a track without having a guide runner and the solution they devised was the Running Line – a guide wire supported between two padded posts that gives physical, tactile and audible stimulus to support a visually impaired or blind child to run on their own. It can be adjusted for distances up to 100m and for different heights, and the buffer or position warning can also be adapted depending on how fast a runner is.
For the past four years, Running Line sessions have been delivered to young and adult groups and, as of January this year, sessions have been delivered to more than 250 children with visual impairments and a further 650 people have used the product whilst wearing a blindfold. The Running Line has proven to be most effective for five to nine-year-olds in infant schools, especially those that are blind from birth.
PhD student Winta Satwikasanti has been conducting research into the Running Line to see if it increases the level of activity in schoolchildren with visual impairments and the final results should be known later this year. However, Dr Fray says early conclusions can be made and the results are positive.
He said: “So far, our research has proved that visually-impaired children get better at running with exposure to the Running Line" He added “They get faster, more confident, run straighter and rapidly develop better endurance as they can independently complete more activity."
An event held earlier this month with more than 20 sighted and visually impaired children from five East Midlands schools took part in a competition at Bosworth Academy. Some of the children with visual impairments had never competed before and, thanks to the Running Line, they were able to race against their peers. The event was the culmination of a project funded by the Leicestershire County Council Shires Fund, The Ulverscroft Foundation and the Boost Fund, which supported the delivery of Running Line activities in Charnwood, Melton and Hinckley districts.
Future plans for the Running Line project include trying to get the product on the market so it can be widely available and placed in schools across the UK and internationally.
Click here to view the video made at the event.