Note: Please use this guide as a tool or reminder when teaching a student who has low vision, a vision-related diagnosis, or is blind. This guide is by no means comprehensive, in that every student will have unique needs, abilities, and guiding preferences. Please refer to your student when in doubt, as they will be your best guide and resource.


  • Speak directly to the student
  • Stand in the student’s field of vision when speaking to them(as appropriate)
  • Describe the environment. Let the student know who is nearby, what objects might be hazardous, etc.
  • Students with visual impairments are humans who also experience the world, just maybe in a slightly different way
  • Ask for permission before guiding or teaching a student using touch

Develop Trust

  • Get to know your student (just like any other lesson!)
  • Ideas of helpful questions to discuss with your student:
    • How does the athlete want to be guided?
    • If the person has some sight: what can he or she see? (Central vision, periphery, near-sight, far-sight, colors, shapes, depth perception, etc.)
    • What kind of information helps the student learn best? (auditory, kinesthetic, visual)
    • Will you and our participant use a headset during the lesson?
  • Trust is foundational to teaching any lesson, but it is essential when teaching adaptive lessons

Establish Key Words for Guiding

  • Establish directional/ auditory cues that are helpful to the student
    • Examples: Stop, go, right, left, turn, slow, hold, turn, cues for variable terrain, chair lift loading
    • Practice on your way to the slopes! 
  • Develop an emergency verbal cue or procedure if you and your student lose auditory connection

Teaching Strategies

  • If teaching a student how to move their legs, it can be helpful to move your hands on-top of theirs and guide their hands as if they were the student’s legs
  • While guiding, maintain visual, auditory, and occasionally physical contact with your student at all times
  • Provide tactile (touch) and kinesthetic (movement) cues and descriptions
    • Example: draw the shape of the turn in the student’s hand
  • Describe the environment (including terrain, fall line, obstacles, etc.)
    • Clock system (12 o’clock is always the direction that the student’s head is facing)
    • Dividing the slope into a grid system (e.g., lanes 1-10) for greater independence
  • Developing a cadence or rhythm to your cues can assist student’s timing
    • Example: “Turn-2-3, turn-2-3” or “turn left and hold, hold, turn right and hold, hold”

Strategies for Riding the Chairlift

  • Loading techniques:
    • Describe the experience of riding a lift. Guide through the lift line with pole or hand if appropriate.
    • Practice sequencing steps for riding lift. Verbal cues (for example: “1,2,3 sit”) can help timing.
  • Unloading techniques:
    • Provide tactile (touch) cues for when to stand for unloading by having your student hold onto your pole across their lap.
    • Offer hand-held or arm assistance to guide student off of the unloading ramp
    • Verbal countdown for timing to stand (“3,2,1, stand!”)

For related Adaptive Training Videos, please watch the following videos:



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