Community partners have been providing sports and recreation programs for individuals with disabilities since 1956 when the National Wheelchair Athletic Association (NWAA) was founded to organize wheelchair sports based on the interests of athletes with disabilities, many of whom were veterans.
The following national community based organizations provide various sports and resources to athletes who have disabilities: American Association of Adapted Sports Programs, Disabled Sports USA, Special Olympics, United States Paralympics, and Wheelchair and Ambulatory Sports USA. Collaboratively, they are working together to address the OCR guidelines for students with disabilities.
Many of these national organizations have chapters and clubs throughout the United States and collaboratively have been the primary providers of individual and team sports for this target population, with the exception of adaptive physical education in the schools. There also exists, national disability sports organizations such as United States Association of Blind Athletes and national sport specific organizations such as the National Wheelchair Basketball Association.
The Section 504 legislation which requires students with disabilities to have equal opportunity for participation in nonacademic and extracurricular services and activities should increase the number of students being physically active and participating in school athletics by the thousands on a nation wide level. Schools can benefit from the expertise and resources of the community partners for successful and easier implementation of Section 504.
Community partners will continue to provide adaptive and Paralympic sports, but the model may be different than what the chapters and clubs are doing now. The community partner may function as a club in the same way a soccer or swim club functions within a school district.