3 Resources That Will Defend Your Rights as a Disabled Athlete
Have you decided to become an athlete despite your disability? Do you enjoy extreme sports and new adventures? If so, you’ve made the right choice. Becoming an athlete is a rewarding experience that can, quite literally, change your life. It can also change your lifestyle, your hobbies, your friends, and the way that you see yourself.
Still, disabled athletes face a multitude of frustrations throughout their careers. When you are mistreated or encounter a significant issue, these three resources can serve as helpful guides.
1. Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)
The Americans With Disabilities Act was passed in 1990. It protects against discrimination and ensures equal employment opportunities for anyone with a disability. Any programs that are funded by the government, including extreme sports teams, are required to treat disabled athletes with the same respect and consideration as other athletes. If you are openly mistreated or discriminated against or if a facility doesn’t meet your needs (e.g. if a local pool doesn’t offer the proper accessibility equipment) you can feel free to contact local authorities. They will uphold the ADA without question. This act is why most schools across the country are required to make accommodations for students with disabilities who are interested in athletics.
2. International Paralympic Committee (IPC)
The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) is the governing body of the Paralympic movement. The goal of this movement is to put together both summer and winter Paralympic games. This committee handles international responsibilities for disabled athletes and run by more than two hundred members.
Their long-term goals include enforcing the empowerment of athletes, focusing on para athletes (those who face some disability), achieving excellence, and inspiring others. The committee was created in 1989 and was originally a non-profit organization. Based in Germany, employees with the committee are prepared to help para athletes worldwide. For information about your rights as a disabled athlete, the IPC is a great organization to explore.
3. Disabled Sports USA
The final resource on our list is Disabled Sports USA. This unique organization focuses on providing both opportunities and leadership for disabled athletes. It was first developed in 1967 and was intended to improve the livelihoods of adults facing disabilities with recreational activities and sports. These disabilities include autism, intellectual disabilities, head injuries, spinal cord injuries, amputations, visual impairments, and more.
Disabled Sports USA has a unique motto - “If I can do this, I can do anything!” This positive motto is what helps many disabled athletes get through training and ongoing frustration. The organization firmly believes that sports can be therapeutic, life-changing, and inspiring for individuals with disabilities.
The organization serves more than sixty thousand youth, adults, and “wounded warriors” on a yearly basis. It also offers more than one hundred locations in thirty-seven states, specializing in more than thirty sports. Some of these sports are extreme, including rafting, surfing, skiing, rock climbing, and archery. Others are more common, such as kayaking, hiking, fishing, and golfing.
There are few things more inspiring and moving than an individual with a disability who decides to go above and beyond what society says he or she is capable of accomplishing. Seeing a man or woman without legs complete a marathon or witnessing a team of basketball players playing in wheelchairs strikes motivation into the hearts of many onlookers. It inspires others to push the limits of what they believe they can achieve.
Author: Travis White (LearnFit.org)