Did you know that regardless of your ability level there is probably a sport out there for you? Sports have come a long way and there are now adaptations and modifications for all kinds of activities, from water skiing to snow skiing to everything in between. When it comes to disability in the world of sports there are two main types: adapted sports and inclusive sports. So what’s the difference?
Adapted sports are sports played solely by individuals with disability. Most likely, the sport has been altered or adapted in some way or ways to make it more appropriate for individuals with disability. These sports may be specific to different types of disabilities, such as goalball, a sport for athletes with visual impairments, or wheelchair rugby, which is for athletes that have impairment in all four limbs. These sports may also be for individuals with any of a number of disability conditions, such as sit volleyball and wheelchair basketball, which can be played by athletes with such conditions as limb loss or spinal cord injuries.
And that’s just a few of the adapted sports that are out there; in reality, there are many more. Adapted sports can usually be found at recreational centers and sports clubs that work specifically with individuals who have a disability. There are several adapted sports centers around the country. To find a club near you, try searching:
Inclusive sports are played by individuals with and without disability. There are a large number of inclusive sports, and they can be played anywhere, from schools to recreation centers to sports clubs. Depending on the disability, inclusive sports can include almost every sport your school offers, such as swimming, football, and track and field. While adapted sports are great, inclusive sports are also fun because they allow you to play on a team with your friends without disability from school and other areas of your community.
Sometimes, schools or clubs may not know that a sport can be inclusive, but that does not necessarily mean that they are off limits to you. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a law that granted access to sports for all students. Schools receiving any federal funding must allow for and provide modifications or aids to be used in a sport as long as these provisions do not fundamentally alter the sport. This does not mean that just because an individual has a disability he or she automatically qualifies for a team; the student would have to have the required skills that every other athlete on the team is required to have.
There have been a number of modifications made so that students with disability could play a sport. For example, if a Deaf student were to participate in a track and field event that starts with an audible cue, such as a starter pistol, the officials could also provide a visual cue, such as a light, to signal the start. This is just one of many examples schools and sports clubs may utilize to create inclusive sports opportunities for people of all ability levels. So, if there is a sport at your school or in your community that you want to play, I challenge you to ask about it.
Check out our videos on inclusion in sports.