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Feds call for widened disabled sports in schools

Title IX, the landmark legislation that called for mandatory gender equality in high school and collegiate sports, has for decades had a defining impact on the nature of sports programs and team dynamics across the nation's schools. Now, a new directive from the federal Education Department appears poised to have the same landmark effect for those students with disabilities.

Late last month, the department's civil rights division explicitly called for high schools and colleges with sports activities programs to guarantee access to interscholastic, intramural, and intercollegiate athletics to students with disabilities. All schools, including those around Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, and El Paso will need to institute a combination of new adjustments to existing teams, as well as entirely new programs, that will make it possible for disabled athletes to compete as freely as more able-bodied peers.

Reasonable modifications to existing sporting events, such as a hockey game or track and field event, will need to be made so that disabled students wanting to compete can do so. If such concessions would fundamentally change a given activity or give disabled students a clear advantage, a separate parallel program is to be instituted so that disabled boys and girls can continue to play.

The department specifically made note of the advantages of college and high school sports participation: discipline, physical fitness, and cooperation skills. Disabled students, according to the Education Department's direction, have a right to be included and benefit from such athletic experiences.

"This will do for students with disabilities what Title IX did for women," one activist in support of the directive asserted.

As disabilities become both more understood and accommodated for in modern American society, the opportunities for those with a debilitating physical or mental condition to assert their rights continue to expand. In some cases, this includes the added financial stability of Social Security disability benefits.

Source: My Fox NY, "Schools must provide sports for disabled, US says," Phillip Elliott, Jan. 25, 2013

  • As the country adapts to better accommodate disabled persons, those in need of SSD benefits shouldn't hesitate to pursue their rightfully needed support. For more information, contact our Houston social security law page.

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