Prior to ‘lockdown’ I completed the BSAC Diving for All Dive Managers and Buddies Course with the intention of taking the Instructors course shortly afterwards.
Only now, eighteen months later is div training getting back to normal and these specialist courses once more being planned. I will attend the first one available in the north-west region.
Divers with disabilities tend to be very motivated and most challenges can be overcome. Being part of a BSAC club has a lot to offer and scuba diving can offer both physical and mental respite for divers.
Over the years I have witnessed the enormous benefits that sport can provide to the disabled. Sport can provide immediate and long-term relief providing the opportunity for physical improvements such as stronger muscles, enhanced cardiovascular aerobic levels and improved motor skills but also creating and that allows the disabled to develop crucial life skills. Sport helps in developing stronger self-esteem, personal sense of worth, and alleviates depression and anxiety. Essentially, sport can enhance the lives of the disabled and help them lead a more fulfilling and productive life.
There a numerous opportunities for the disabled to participate in individual and team sports however only a few are widely publicised. I think the unique opportunities presented by scuba diving are often unknown or overlooked. Scuba diving can be enjoyed by virtually anyone, regardless of physical ability. In fact, if you do have a disability, scuba diving can offer a unique sense of freedom by transporting you into a world of weightlessness and unlimited intrigue.
About 15 percent of the world’s population has some form of physical disability, which can range from those that have been present since birth to those caused by injuries or illnesses. Although disabilities can equate to limitations on physical pursuits, they don’t have to mean that scuba diving is out of the question. Scuba diving can be a fantastic experience for many disabled people, as the weightless environment often allows the diver to experience freedom from whatever restraints they face on land. Someone confined to a wheelchair can experience almost extreme liberation while hovering weightless in mid-water. The key skills in scuba, such as buoyancy control, can be mastered with a whole range of disabilities by those of all ages. Leaning and interacting with others has a positive effect on the health of those taking part with an increase in their confidence and communication skills. This is true for all ages and for those with and without disabilities
Physical therapists have long known that water therapy is beneficial, but scuba diving has its own additional benefits too. With scuba diving comes a real sense of well-being. Any physical restrictions are left behind…it’s just you and your ‘buddy’ exploring the underwater world. All trainees progressively develop an emotional reaction to being underwater in a novel new environment, they learn new skills, overcome difficulties and make real achievements learning communication skills, self-reliance and team work.
Depending on the severity and nature of a disability, various diving options are open to a student. Some will be able to take full scuba-diving certifications; others may need to do their dives with certified instructors to ensure that they can dive safely.
The best way to find out if you’ll enjoy scuba diving is to do a relaxed, easy introduction to the underwater world through a ‘Try Dive’ session in a swimming pool with a local BSAC club. Specialist BSAC ‘Diving for All’ instructors are trained to ensure your needs are met and that everything happens at your own pace. Programmes will support people to realise that diving isn’t necessarily out of their grasp and how much fun it can be. All equipment is provided all you need to bring along is your swimming gear, a T-shirt and a towel.
Recently from the ‘Abel’ The Disability Life Style Magazine – ‘Have a go at scuba diving’