A recent ruling by the U.S. Education department shows just how far our government has come in giving people who are disabled a fair shot in society. While recognizing that we still have a long way to go, the recent announcement to guarantee disabled students a place at the table when it comes to sports participation is a big step forward.
According to a recent announcement by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, kids with disabilities from Oregon and across the country have to be allowed to join their schools’ traditional sports teams if schools can make “reasonable modifications.” If that can’t be done, then schools need to create a comparable program for the disabled students.
Federal law already bans public schools from discriminating against students that have disabilities. The Education Department’s announcement clarifies that to mean that disabled students can’t be excluded from joining sports teams simply because they are disabled.
One of the suggestions of a modification could be to use a visual signal of some kind to allow a deaf student to participate in track events.
Disability advocates compared the announcement to when Title IX was unveiled years ago, which prevented female athletic programs from being discriminated against.
One wheelchair-bound teenager gets to compete on his school’s track team and runs in sprint events, but he is forced to race alone. He said he likes that the announcement may give him the chance to race against other runners.
Many people don’t realize how hard disabled Americans have it in today’s world. They can have trouble getting employment and the federal benefits they are entitled to. This announcement at least shows that the trend lines are moving in the right direction.
Source: Associated Press, “Schools must provide sports for disabled, US says,” Philip Elliott, Jan. 25, 2013