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Movement and Visual Impairment: Research Across Disciplines, 1st Edition

Martin Giese

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The Ableist Underpinning of Normative Motor Assessments in Adapted Physical Education

Martin Giese, Justin A. Haegele, and Anthony J. Maher

Background: Normative motor skill assessments occupy a privileged position in physical education scholarship and practice. So much so, in fact, they manifest as commonsense cultural arrangements in most movement contexts, including adapted physical education. The proliferation of such tools has generally been uncontested, until now. Purpose: We argue that normative motor skill assessments have ableist underpinnings and consequently may do more to subordinate, rather than empower disabled children. More specifically, we suggest that normative motor assessment tools and criteria, perhaps unintentionally, highlight what is perceived to be wrong, bad, and faulty about the ways disabled bodies look and move, thus reinforcing ableist norms and values relating to ability. Conclusions: We end by encouraging adapted physical education scholars and practitioners to critically reflect on ableist notions of ability, particularly as they relate to movement competence, and to work with disabled children because of their embodied experiences to co-design assessments that are more meaningful to disabled children.