Dedicated to Improving the Lives of Blind and Visually Impaired People

The Importance of Sports for Blind Veterans, and Vice Versa

by Daniel Parker, RDPFS Intern

While Veterans Day is a time to honor and appreciate our veterans’ service to our country, it is also a time to consider how programs for veterans are beneficial to those with disabilities who have not served. A prime example of this has been the creation and adaptation of various sports to be playable by those with diverse disabilities. Adaptive sports for veterans were the primary impetus for the formation of events like the Paralympic Games, as well as the spread of many sports well-loved in the vision loss community. Indeed, the game of goalball, the first sport to be designed specifically for those with vision impairments, was first invented in Austria and Germany as a rehabilitation tool for blinded World War II veterans. Those countries’ roles in that war notwithstanding, we can acknowledge that goalball is among the most famous blind sports. In the United States, the Blinded Veterans Association (BVA) lists many resources for rehabilitation, athletic and otherwise, as does a similar page from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). In any case, not only should we thank our veterans for their service on Veterans Day, but the blind community is also indebted to them for some of our favorite pastimes.