Civil Rights: Students with Disabilities Given a Fair Shot at Athletics

Student athletes everywhere can chalk up another point in the win column as the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights has successfully issued a guidance measure that addresses the rights of children with disabilities to participate in school athletics and other extracurricular activities. In an addendum to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the proposed guidance adds clarity to the responsibilities of federally-funded schools for the provision of opportunities in physical activities and sports participation for students with disabilities.

The United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) also aided in the initiative by providing a report  stressing the important health and social benefits of access to and participation in school sports for all students, especially those with disabilities. The measure calls for schools to accommodate students with disabilities who choose to join traditional sports teams by making “reasonable modifications.” The National Center for Health, Physical Activity, and Disability has information and examples of sports adaptation on their website. In cases that an adjustment causes a disruption to the essence of the sport, then the order calls for the school to create a parallel athletic program that would have equal or at least comparable standing to the traditional platform.

The measure piggybacks on the successes of Title IX and augments the 1972 legislation (which focused on the inclusion of women in education programs and activities) to include those with disabilities. This opens the door for massive inclusion of students living with disabilities to be able to participate in sports and extracurricular activities at all levels, much like Title IX did for girls’ athletics.

This initiative will do much to improve the opportunities for athletes of all diversities in sport and give those athletes the muscle to erase the stigma that not fitting a prototype doesn’t mean one cannot be an athlete.

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One Response to Civil Rights: Students with Disabilities Given a Fair Shot at Athletics

  1. Reblogged this on Optimal Performance Consultants Blog and commented:
    Disability rights is only going to keep growing ….and glad to hear this. With an ageing population and greater quality of life for those with congenital disabilities coupled with the fact we are all going to experience at least one disabling illness or injury in our lifetimes, now is the time to embrace ADA and AODA!

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