Outdoor access for those with a disability

posted Mar 20, 2017, 9:13 AM by Paul Wagner
We received this article from Travis White.  While we don't usually accept outside articles for our blog, we liked this one so much that we couldn't resist.

How to Get a Rush from Sports and Activities Despite Living with a Disability


If you think your physical disability precludes you from so-called “extreme” sports and activities, think again. In fact, with modern technology and adaptive equipment there are very few avenues of adventure that you can’t travel.


For those on the coasts


If you live near the ocean, you’re probably not too far away from a place with a rich surf culture. Surfing is one of the most popular extreme activities for the disabled, and there are two basic ways that those with physical disabilities can experience the thrill of riding some waves.


First, there’s adaptive prone surfing where you lay prone on the surfboard. Oftentimes you’re paired with a spotter or two who help you push out and catch the waves as well as get back on the board and back to shore. Second, there’s a surf device called a waveski that allows you to sit on the board and use a kayak paddle.


“Waveski’s come in many different designs and sizes, depending on your ability will depend on the shape and size of the board which will give you the best stability and confidence to catch and ride waves. There is also a tandem waveski in which an adaptive surfer will ride in the front seat and paddle, and have an able bodied person paddling and navigating both of them onto waves. This is a great method of giving a first time rider the confidence to get on the water and into some waves without having to do it unassisted,” says the Stoke For Life foundation.


For those in the mountains


If you live near the mountains, backpacking is a great outdoor activity that you can enjoy even with physical disabilities.


If you need the assistance of a wheelchair, you can still enjoy a good hike. There are tons of all-terrain wheelchair options available. If you’re dealing with a visual impairment, a service dog can help you on a backpacking adventure. If your condition is severe, you can always use the guide wire method to safely tether you to your surroundings.


“The wire should be made of lightweight rope or twine with knots placed every ten feet so that the individuals know how far they have walked. For higher functioning individuals, the guide wire may be attached to the backpacker directly and the other side to a fixed object like a tent or shelter. A survey of the area before the implementation of the guide wire is necessary. This survey includes picking up large branches and the notation of rocks that could hinder a wheelchair, walker, or cause someone to trip,” says the National Center on Health, Physical Activity, and Disability.


If those mountains are a little … snowier … you should consider skiing. Through the use of monoskis and bi-skis, skiing with a disability has never been easier.


For those who want all the “extreme” they can get


If skiing, climbing, hiking, and surfing all sound a bit too tame for your interests, you should know that there are organizations dedicated to helping people with disabilities experience truly “extreme” sports like base jumping, skydiving, and parasailing. Most skydiving operations only suggest tandem dives and possibly some minor equipment adjustments for those living with disabilities ranging from vision and hearing loss to paraplegia. Most parasails are strong enough to support the weight of a wheelchair, if that’s your thing. Of course, you will need to consult a professional before attempting anything like that. Just know, however, that it’s all more than possible!


Author:Travis White considers himself a foodie and loves sharing his cooking tips and recipes. But for this article he took a different route as he would like to advocate for his good friend Kevin to be active amidst the disability.