diver in scuba gear
Scuba Diving
Because water greatly reduces or even eliminates mobility problems for swimmers with disabilities, scuba diving can be taught to disabled swimmers with virtually no modifications. People with disabilities can go diving right along with non-disabled divers. Handicapped divers must be assisted to the dive platform and to exit the water, but everything else is the same; no special gear is required.
For some, scuba diving represents total freedom because it affords one the opportunity to move about without a wheelchair or other assistive devices in a barrier-free, gravity-free environment! It also offers a boost in self-esteem because becoming certified takes work. A person is left with a sense of accomplishment and the confidence to embrace new challenges.
The same basic safety and equipment concerns apply to everyone (there are just a few additional issues for people with disabilities (See side panel.) Divers should seek regular training through certified scuba classes, rather than classes at resorts.


Casa Colina Outdoor Adventures
Outdoor adventures include ocean sailing, rock climbing, white-water rafting, snow skiing, horse-packing, water skiing, deep sea fishing, back packing, freshwater fishing, winter camping, dog sledding, sea kayaking, and family camping. This program is open to people of all abilities.


Disabled Divers International
Promotes, develops and conducts disabled scuba diving training programs.


Disabled Sports USA
Disabled Sports USA offers nation-wide network of community-based chapters, offering a variety of recreation programs. Each chapter sets its own agenda and activities. These may include one or more of the following: snow skiing; water sports (such as water skiing, sailing, kayaking, and rafting); cycling; climbing; horseback riding; golf; and social activities.


Trains instructors, dive buddies, store operators and support staff to instruct and work with disabled divers. Located in Downers Grove, IL.


Handicapped Scuba Association (HSA) 
This organization operates as an independent diver training and certifying agency. It offers diver education programs and instructor training courses, diving trips and related activities in the U.S. and around the world. HSA is recognized internationally.


Soldiers Undertaking Disabled Scuba (SUDS)
Designed to help improve the lives of injured service members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. 

Special Safety Concerns

Skin Protection: Reduced circulation, lack of sensation, or lack of movement can lead to skin breakdown. It is advised that carpet strips be used on pool decks and rocky shorelines to protect skin on hands and feet. Feet should be covered with diving boots or other foot coverings and other sensitive extremities should be similarly covered.

Medications: Depth of water and water pressure may increase the effects of certain medications to the point that it is not possible to safely participate in scuba diving. Medication and medical history is usually discussed in the first scuba class and individuals must consult their personal physicians about any safety concerns.

Pulmonary Conditions: Before anyone begins a scuba certification program, a full medical exam with chest x-rays must be taken. Contraindications do exist for some types of disabilities. Certain pulmonary conditions can affect air trapping, heart conditions and even convulsive disorders. Check with your physician.

Temperature Regulation: Individuals who have trouble with temperature regulation (quadriplegics, paraplegics, individuals with cerebral palsy, etc.) should always wear a wet suit in cold waters. A dry suit offers even more protection in extremely cold water, as it doesn't allow water to come between your skin and the suit, as a conventional wet suit does.