If there are not enough students within any one school with physical disabilities to form an adapted sports team then schools should consider coordinating their programs from a system wide level and form a team or teams by district.
To identify which students with physical disabilities are eligible to take part in adapted sports. Educators should identify students attending all schools within the school district including all elementary, middle, and high schools. In the student count, include those who walk unassisted, with assistive devices, or use manual or power wheelchairs. This task can best be accomplished by the Athletic Department working in collaboration with the Special Education Department and 504 Coordinator.
Include policies within the school districts’ athletic existing policies that allow for safe and meaningful competition for students with physical disabilities while adhering to educational outcomes.
Adding adapted sports to the school districts’ athletic infrastructure to allow for equal opportunity for students with physical disabilities. Consider adding one adapted team sport per sports season, that all eligible students with physical disabilities can take part in. Some school districts have assigned a staff person to administer the districts adapted sports program and identified a coach willing and ready to make the necessary adaptations.
School systems in the same geographical area should collaborate when adding adapted sports within their athletic programs so each district’s adapted sports teams will have other teams to compete against. Teams should adhere to standardize seasons and rules of play just as other school teams do.
Depending on the sport, it is recommended that adapted sport teams have a student/coach ratio of six to one due to the special needs of these student athletes.
Tryouts for adapted sports teams are not required as they are in sports for athletes without disabilities due to the unique nature of each student’s disability and because there are students with varying physical disabilities on a team. Instead, each sanctioned adapted sport has a limit for the number of players a team can roster.
School systems should evaluate transportation for their adapted sports teams based on the unique needs of the students participating in the program and whether or not a lift bus is needed to address access issues. Transportation routes can be planned and coordinated within the district to best accommodate team practices and games.
Recognition of the school districts’ adapted sports teams and student athletes should be the same as other school teams and students without disabilities receive. This can include individual and team awards, plus system-wide recognition through approved communication channels. Include information about the program on the school districts’ athletic website.
School districts may want to consider collaboration with community agencies such as local parks and recreation departments, YMCA’s, and community based sports organizations. Such collaborations can assist the schools adapted sports program with resources and support.