Sport Orientation 6. 10.

Author: Raúl Candido

Keywords: A Sport for Intellectual Disability; Sport for all; Alternative communication.

Adapted Orienteering – A sport for all

Adapted Orienteering (a variation of Sport Orienteering) is a sport that, above all, promotes a fruition of outdoor spaces, removing people with intellectual disabilities, but also children, young and old participants of a certain passivity, bringing them into contact with nature, in an active and interplay with others and with the environment in a playful way.

When we are sharing the activity with people with intellectual disabilities, we must take into account some strategies so that activity can proceed without precariousness and keep the participants interested and involved.

Is important:

  • If possible, a previous approach with educators or monitors to measure the types of needs of the group.
  • If possible, request previously for global group characterization.
  • Participants with total need of support to do the activity;
  • Partial need for support to do the activity;
  • Almost independent to do the activity.
  • Make prior recognition of the space whenever possible, while marking the course.

This may help to predict some less “friendly” situations and create strategies for greater and better involvement, but also the safety of participants. Thus, aspects like the signalization and the marking of the route can bring many advantages.

Building the circuit for the game:

Nature walks adapted for more participants that are elderly, young children or people with disabilities. It is a type of “vulnerable” participants, with losses of balance, or higher levels of fatigue, intolerance to heat and cold. It is necessary to avoid sharp gradients in the terrain of the course; to prevent fatigue that can compromise the success of the game, with negative consequences for the rest of the participants, as well as for the most vulnerable participants. Concern about travel course time and hydration should be quite compensated factors.

In case of need, delimit the route / trail for orientation reasons and safety of the participants.

Simple elements and reference points should be considered so that participants with more limitations can be able to identify them. One of the characteristics that present a significant part of the participants with moderate or even severe intellectual disability is related to the decoding of the symbols. Thus, the greater the possibility of association with known elements, symbols and codes, the greater will be the tendency towards a more autonomous exploration.

Seek to use simple messages in communication. The instruction must be detailed, and must tell what the activity consists of, such as the course and the necessary safety measures.

You should be patient and make sure that the participant understands and memorizes the instructions, as the attention and interest in the instructions, is usually low. It is necessary to use simple and pragmatic messages during communication. There may need to receive reinforcement in the repetition of messages and instructions.

Before the orienteering trail, a body warming should be done, using music or dancing in a combination of fitness. Through augmentative language, schematics or three-dimensional models, you can help to structure the adventure of what will be found in the trail route, bringing to the choreography elements of increased communication, with the symbols of the cards, maps and the colours that will appear on the course.

The spots on the map of course must be easy to relate to elements that the participants can make simple association: ex. doghouse, water well, flower beds, mill, lake, etc.

For this purpose, several strategies can be used, such as:

  • Words with rhyme;
  • Sounds;
  • Graphics;
  • Movements, facial and body expressions.

Endow the educators / monitors of groups with extended versions of the elements of the game. Such elements would be provided separately in order that different puzzle sets can be made. For example: color plates, symbols, and numbers, like the Bliss symbols, which are shown on the game cards.

A map in A3 format allows a short story to be devised making use of the symbols and creating associations for example the food chain. An area with games that can help you relate to elements and objects that you find along the trail will be available.

Use exercises / games like: Stone, scissors, paper; Boxes of different sizes for a color puzzle.

Identification of groups: With t-shirts, vests, badges, bracelets, etc. to ensure that the participant does not get lost and is not endangered by rough terrain which gives security to educators and monitors.

Adapted Orienteering is mainly a game that should help to achieve situations of autonomy, in terms of space and time for people with intellectual disabilities. For example, for those participants who do not know the letters and numbers and even some colors, we can use textures so that they can make associations to the images / pictograms in the cards and the plates in order to achieve the combinations for the answers.

Resport guidelines tisk SLIKE 0224

Brief history and basic rules of the sport

Orienteering is a competitive sport, practised in many countries, particularly popular in Northern Europe.

In Portugal, Mr. Joaquim Margarido, blogger, photographer, a nurse practitioner, in the Prelada Hospital, in the Oporto region, and passionate about nature and orienteering, has been linked to this sport for several years, decided, to make a variant in which all people with and without disabilities of all ages could participate, he created Adapted Orienteering in 2014.

He created a simple scheme with the use of maps of basic routes, with cards where basic colors, red, green and blue are used, together with effective language pictures or symbols invented by Charles Bliss, so that people with more deep disabilities, can use for a basic communication.

Based on his work, we create these guidelines, which can help all to perceive this variant of this sport and enjoy it as an activity practised outdoors, in contact with nature.

Let us get started!

Resport guidelines tisk SLIKE 0223

Activity development and materials:

Adapted Orienteering is a game which runs along a route drawn on a map. In the map are marked spots / points, that we call beacons, that must be found and visited in a sequential way; It must start at the first point on the map and finish at the last one that is proposed. When we draw the map we can choose the number of points that we will have on route and that are marked on the map.

1. At the place of departure, which will also be that of the arrival, the judges give each player or team, a map and control card, with the number of points that we must visit in our route, (figure 1). Each player or team will have a map with different routes. Near the map, we have a card drawn that has three colors and numbers that are the various points / beacons, through which we will have to go through, to do the course. Next to the colors, there is an empty square, where there should be a symbol / picture.

2. On the control card with symbols (figure 2), that is given with the map to each player or team, can also place your name/team name and the hour and minutes of your departure. The card will serve to mark the passage through the points indicated on the map, attesting that you have found the various points noted on your route map.

3. Each point on the map signalled with a beacon, which we see in the next image, will have a check punch attached that will be used to perforate our control card in the square to confirm completion of the points.

4. Each point on the course will be allocated with one number, 4 stakes, 4 plates with the colors, red, green or blue, which may be in another order, and one of the symbols we have already talked about.

5. Then we look at the plates, to choose the one that has the right answer following the correct sequence of colors plus the corresponding picture. Next we mark the picture on the control card with check punch marking what we think is right and move on to another point. If none of the color matches the desired sequence, mark square with X.

6. When we finish our course after visiting all the points, we return to the starting point and deliver our card with all answers perforated. Judges of the game, who have a card with all the correct answers, color sequence and pictures will compare with yours and provide a score for all correct answers.

7. If players or teams tie, in the number of correct answers, the team who take the least time to complete the entire course will win overall.


Margarido, Joaquim in Retrieved on 02-10-2018

Figures and photos from: Joaquim Margarido’s Blog