Staci Mannella’s MA Thesis Proposal

Title: “Seeing Without Sight: An Exploration of the Athlete – Guide Partnership in Para-Sport”

Supervisor: Dr. Andrea Bundon
Committee Members: Dr. Laura Hurd, Dr Mark Beauchamp
Chair: Dr. Eli Puterman

Abstract: The purpose of this research is to explore the athlete-guide partnerships between elite visually impaired athletes and their sighted guides. Individuals with low vision can compete competitively in sports such as skiing, cycling, and athletics because of the help of their sighted guides. The guide participates with the athlete, and the pair communicate back and forth seeking to achieve optimal performance as a team. The partnership transforms many sports, which are typically understood to be individual, into team sports that are dependent on communication, trust, and rapport. The athlete-guide partnership is currently not represented in academic literature and will contribute to scholarships pertaining to disability sport and athlete – athlete relationships. The study will utilize a critical interpretivist paradigm and conduct 30 – 35 individual, semi structured interviews to understand the experiences of both visually impaired athletes and sighted guides. The project will be guided by the following research questions; 1. How does disability and impairment impact the athlete – guide partnership in disability sport? 2. How are roles and responsibilities perceived within the athlete- guide partnership? 3. What interpersonal components are part of elite athlete-guide partnerships? 4. How is the athlete-guide partnership similar and different in various sports? 5. What existing structures within sport organizations support and marginalize these teams?