Adaptive Sports in Fort Wayne: Opportunities for Disabled Participants

Fort Wayne is a city that is committed to providing resources and opportunities for people of all abilities. As one of the top adaptive sports competition sites, we understand the importance of accessibility and strive to ensure that visitors and residents alike can enjoy our city to the fullest. Wheelchair softball is a variation of traditional softball, with some minor adaptations of rules and equipment. It is played on hard, smooth surfaces, such as cement or black asphalt, and follows the rules of the sixteen-inch slow pitch softball of the United States Amateur Softball Association.

The ball used in wheelchair softball is softer than the one used in a normal softball game, so players can choose to go without gloves on the field. Adaptive Sports Ohio wheelchair softball sessions are recreational and open to multiple types of disabilities. Physical activity is essential for everyone, including those with disabilities. Not only does it help reduce obesity and prevent health problems such as heart disease, breast cancer, and depression, but it also boosts self-esteem, body image, and academic success. People with disabilities who participate in sports are more likely to graduate from high school and enroll in college, as well as have greater professional success and more options. Schools should provide students with disabilities with equal opportunities to participate in school extracurricular activities, including club, university, and intramural sports programs.

This does not mean that all students with disabilities have the right to participate in all university teams; just as the recruitment, testing and selection of equipment are done for other students, students with disabilities must also be subjected to these same processes. A reasonable accommodation is one that does not fundamentally alter the nature of the services to provide the requested modification. A fundamental modification of a sports competition rule occurs when a modification changes the essential nature of the sport or gives the person with a disability a competitive advantage over non-disabled competitors. Students with disabilities must be qualified to participate in the sports program or activity; school districts may require a level of skill or ability for a student to participate in sports, as long as the selection criteria are not discriminatory. For example, if a deaf student needs a sign language interpreter to be able to participate in a basketball team, that accommodation must be provided so that the student has the opportunity to play. However, if the deaf student receives these accommodations and is excluded from the team because she does not demonstrate the same level of skill as the hearing players who make up the team, the school will not discriminate against the student with a disability.

If a visually impaired student needs a rule to be modified, such as requiring constant contact during a wrestling match, and the student cannot compete effectively even with this adaptation, the school has not discriminated by excluding the student from the team. A student with a prosthetic device may or may not have the skills needed to be a goalkeeper on their intercollegiate soccer team but should have an opportunity to apply for the position. Community-based adapted sports programs do not meet the school's obligation to provide people with disabilities with equal opportunities to participate in school sports programs. People with disabilities have the right to participate in both school and community sports and recreational programs; federal laws on the rights of people with disabilities recognize them as distinct environments and require equal access to both. However, schools can work with community partners to help them implement school programming. Schools should create adapted programs for students with disabilities who cannot participate in existing athletic programs even with reasonable accommodations.

School systems have flexibility when it comes to designing programs that accommodate their students with disabilities; they should take into account factors such as number, ages, types of students served; carry out outreach activities for these students and their families; develop opportunities for participation; combine students from elementary to high school into a single team; offer “related” sports teams where students with disabilities participate alongside those without disabilities; provide equipment for different sexes when possible; base formation of adapted athletic teams on available group of students; do not deny access to competition and training facilities based on misconceptions; review universities' reports on wear and tear on track surfaces due to wheelchairs or prostheses; understand that people with disabilities are just as interested in sports participation as other students. Just look at how dramatically participation of girls and women in sports has increased since Title IX was approved in 1972 (456 percent at university level and 904 percent in high schools) – it was lack of opportunities rather than lack of interest that kept women away from athletics.

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