Adaptive chess educational technology for disabled children



Ph.D., Associate Professor I.V. Mikhaylova
Dr.Med, Professor S.V. Shmeleva
Dr.Hab, Professor A.S. Makhov
Russian State Social University, Moscow

Keywords: adaptive chess education, adaptive chess sport, visually impaired persons, hearing impaired persons, inclusive environment, integration, information and communication technology, distance forms, children with impairments, rehabilitation, chess portal.

Introduction. Social welfare of children with impairments is a system of government support measures providing them equal opportunities of participation in the life of society.

Active forms of social welfare of children with impairments become the most important in the system of its measures [8]. Over 86% of children with impairments cannot lead an active life. In this regard adaptive physical culture and sport – a modern trend of physical culture having children with impairments as its object of study, influence and recovery – becomes more important [2].

Current development of Russian adaptive and Paralympic sport was described in detail in the works of A.A. Antonov [1], M.A. Korneva, A.S. Makhov, O.N. Stepanova [3], L.R. Makina [5], E.A. Osokina [9] and others.

A special place within this phenomenon can be taken by chess. It is one of the abstract competitive sports the result of which is determined not by motor activity of athletes but by abstract and logical outplaying of the opponent [4]. In the context of using chess for social and psychological rehabilitation of the impaired it is most important that motor activity is insignificant. In addition, the potential of chess is quite big, not only in terms of leisure but also in terms of meeting the need for communication, cognitive development and expanding communication capabilities of persons with impairments.

With reference to chess there are two types of adaptive physical culture developing in Russia: adaptive chess education and adaptive chess sport (mass and elite sport) [6].

Adaptive chess education is aimed at the development in people with impairments of a complex of specific knowledge, vital and necessary professional skills (for example, profound computer skills). The priority task of adaptive chess education is formation of conscious attitude of those impaired to their capabilities and talents.

The goals of adaptive chess sport and adaptive chess education include maximum distraction from one’s health status and problems in the course of competitive or training activities that involve all forms of productive life under the circumstances.

Adaptive sport content is first of all aimed at forming sports mastery of children with impairments and their achievement of top performance in its various kinds in competition with people having similar health conditions [11]. S.P. Evseev states that “maximum development of viability of a person by means and methods of adaptive physical culture, maintaining his optimal mental and physical state provides each person with impairments an opportunity to realize his creative potential and achieve outstanding performance” [11].

Analysis of theoretical foundations and practical ways to address the problem of integration of the impaired using the heuristic potential of chess demonstrates the need for the development of technological and methodological support of the learning process that would lead to sustainable educational results. Over the past ten years the staff of Russian State Social University has designed and tested an adaptive chess education technology based on the use of basic and innovative techniques.

Materials and methods.

The results of the major educational research on the implementation of the adaptive chess educational technology on the Internet portal "Chess Planet", in integrated centers of social service in Alekseevsky and Yuzhnoportovy districts in Moscow, as well as in the process of teaching students of Russian State Social University (RGSU) at the department of physical education and recreational technologies in the real conditions of the educational process served the empirical base in the testing of the technology.

Chess related information retrieval systems, the educational complex "School chess elective class", electronic books, computer chess programs and chess related Internet resources were used in the course of the study [4].

Comparative analysis of the remote and traditional forms of chess training was carried out to develop the theoretical and methodological fundamentals of adaptive chess education.

Results and discussion.

Let us discuss the basic block diagram on the use of experimental and traditional techniques in the process of chess education (Figure 1). The content of the teaching material may be the same in both cases, but the ways, forms and methods of teaching and control of the educational process differ. The right column of the block diagram presents chess education using traditional visual means of information – chess related books and equipment.

Figure 1. Methods of adaptive chess education

Teaching the basics of adaptive chess sport can also be carried out remotely, by means of programmed learning using audio-visual information and communication technologies (ICT), which is schematically shown in the left column. Complex usage of remote and traditional forms of teaching is also possible.

Design and implementation of the technology of teaching the basics of adaptive chess sport to children with impairments were carried out in three stages.

A chess game portal "Chess Planet" was developed with the assistance of one of the authors of the article during the first stage in 2003-2007. A course of 54 real time lectures was held there. During the distance learning all the main types of information services were employed, namely: electronic mail; teleconferencing; data transfer (FTP-servers); hypertext environment (WWW-servers); chess related Internet resources. Seventeen chess players with musculoskeletal disorders, seven visually impaired and four hearing impaired chess players attended the lectures.

Learner dynamics was positive, the group increased from four to twenty-eight persons. All the children with impairments, without exception, became involved in individual and team competitions in the Internet portal “Chess Planet”. The training contributed to improvement of their chess playing skills and made it possible to develop good computer skills. Three learners graduated from Moscow Technical University of Communications and Informatics. Later 23 people managed to get computer related jobs [6].

Since there were very experienced athletes among the chess players with impairments (up to Masters of Sports of International Class), an electronic textbook (ET) “Thinking in Schemes” was used for further improvement of this group of students [7].

The synergistic effect of the “Thinking in Schemes” textbook and the “Strategy” computer program in distance learning ensured high mastery of the technique of playing chess and developed strategic thinking of highly skilled children chess players with impairments.

Let us dwell in more detail over the identified specifics of using ICT in teaching various categories of persons with impairments. From the standpoint of the theory of gradual development of intellectual actions of a person (P.Ya. Gal'perin), each action consists of three parts: orientation, fulfillment and control and correction [10].

Persons with musculoskeletal disorders often find it difficult to perform first of all the fulfillment part of an action. Unlike healthy people, they spend dozens of seconds to move a piece or to record the move. This was taken into account by the developers of a number of chess game portals.

The most important function of a “voice mouse” was developed for the impaired on the «ICC» chess portal. A person with musculoskeletal disorders can move a piece by means of his voice rather than hands. The use of the voice mouse functions in the process of distance learning of the basics of adaptive chess sport or in the course of remote participation in tournaments of people with impairments largely solves the above problems.

There are also difficulties associated with chess education of visually and hearing impaired persons. The specifics of using modern information technologies in adaptive education were studied in detail by V.P. Demkin, G.V. Mozhaeva and I.V. Tubalova. The authors emphasize that due to the compensatory activation of the healthy sensory organs the visual channel of perception takes on the leading role for a hearing impaired person. The researchers believe that the use of ICT is only possible for partially sighted and visually impaired people [7].

However, the use of the “talking mouse” function and the JAWS software program can create quite acceptable environment for full-scale learning of completely blind (!) persons including analysis of chess games. JAWS voices moves on the virtual chess board using the record notes located next to it. Thus, using the functionality of Internet portals, children with impairments can be successfully integrated into the chess educational environment. A.N. Komissarov, student, earned the title of the world champion among blind and visually impaired chess players in 2008 as part of the Russian national team.

Adaptive chess education employing standard teaching techniques was tested in integrated centers of social service in Alekseevsky and Yuzhnoportovy districts of Moscow within the framework of the social program of rehabilitation and integration of people with impairments “Accessible Height” during the second stage of the research in 2008-2012.

The concept of the program was organization of sports leisure activities and chess training for children with impairments with regard to their interest in sports and their health status. Weekly scheduled training sessions and chess tournaments were held for the attendants of the mentioned centers of social service. Two hundred eleven children with impairments were involved in the process of chess education.

Specialized books and chess game equipment served as didactic teaching aids. Social and socio-educational technologies and forms of working with children with impairments were used within the framework of the project, namely sports rehabilitation and social support technologies.

The process of adaptive chess education expanded social experience of the children and increased their adaptive capabilities, thus contributing to their successful socialization [6].

Three children with impairments continued their studies in the Anatoly Karpov School of Chess.

During the third stage of the research that took place at the International Center of Chess Education of Russian State Social University (ICCE) in 2012-2015, students of all the departments of the university and the college of Russian State Social University began to learn the basics of adaptive chess sport. These were students with the second and third disability categories as well as those impaired since childhood. They were joined by the students that had recommendations from local physicians and clinical expert committees to exercise in special medical groups. Two hundred and forty-five people were trained in 2012/2013, 405 people – in 2013/2014, 268 people – in 2014/2015.

It should be noted that the International Center of Chess Education of Russian State Social University enjoys abundant resources and is very well technically equipped, has highly qualified personnel, communication resources and software. An up to date computer class equipped with the latest chess programs and Internet connection along with a large game room made it possible to effectively combine traditional and infocommunicative techniques of chess education.

Formation of a theoretical concept and a practical model of using adaptive chess training and education enabled the researchers to develop a complex of specialized knowledge, essential and professional skills and abilities, form a conscious attitude of students to their abilities in a targeted way.

Forty-seven students obtained sports categories in the process of training, allowing them to carry out chess education in schools of the Russian Federation in the capacity of teachers of supplementary education. This profession is currently in demand in the labor market and enhances the competitiveness of our graduates.


The potential of adaptive chess sport is very high as it includes a combination of many factors:

- plentiful opportunities of involving highly qualified scientific and pedagogical personnel and ICT professionals in the development of educational and methodological facilities;

- a high level of cognitive activity of the learning children;

- a large number of chess teaching materials of research nature;

- greater use of the collective creativity potential during online teleconferencing;

- a possibility of individual daily communication of the teacher and children with impairments;

- there is a large arsenal of teaching tools in the distance forms of adaptive chess education including technical ones, such as case technology, video technology and Internet technology as well as computer speech recognition technologies.

Adaptive education can be carried out in standard, remote and integrated forms of teaching depending on the facilities of a particular educational institution.

This education can and should become a state social program of rehabilitation and socialization of children with impairments.

The study of the phenomenon of a game of chess as a means and a mechanism of integration of children with impairments made it possible to develop the following practical recommendations on its basis:

- the educational complex "School chess elective class" developed by the staff of Russian State Social University can be successfully implemented in the process of distance adaptive chess education;

- the basic chess computer programs in the integrated form of learning are «CT-ART 5.0» and «Strategy», developed by LLC “Dive”, a Russian manufacturer;

- “Thinking in Schemes” e-textbook is recommended for the development of strategic skills of highly skilled chess players;

- for game and distance training of children with musculoskeletal and hearing disorders it is suggested to use the chess portal “Chess Planet” [];

- for visually impaired children and youth it is recommended to use the «ICC» chess portal [];

- to obtain information on the use of the technology studying the content of the Internet portal of the International Center of Chess Education of Russian State Social University may be useful;

- an educator conducting the adaptive teaching in remote and integrated forms must have a high level of information culture.

In conclusion we would like to mention that the presented technology of adaptive chess education has no analogues in the world. It can be used as a state social program of rehabilitation and socialization of children and youth with impairments because of its usefulness and relevance, which requires serious reviewing of educational approaches and further research.


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