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Helpful Resources for Disabled Divers

Divers and their buddies each have a key role to play in adapting standard diving practices to a diver's specific needs.
By Alexandra Gillespie | Authored On November 15, 2020
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Helpful Resources for Disabled Divers

Diver with missing foot swims over a shipwreck

Diving can be adapted to accommodate a wide variety of mental or physical challenges, opening the ocean to all.


Adaptations can make scuba diving accessible to anyone, from adult quadriplegics to children with autism. Though finding the right accommodations takes extra research, solutions exist for adaptive divers and their buddies.

For any diver, the first step is clearance to dive from a medical professional. Next, call the dive shop near your home or at your vacation destination. Discuss with the staff what tweaks are required for the training or outing of interest, like wheelchair access at a dive site or an instructor that knows sign language, and if the shop can provide those accommodations.

Consider connecting with the Adaptive Diving Association, the Handicapped Scuba Association, Disabled Divers International or the International Association for Handicapped Divers for additional resources. If you or a loved one is dealing with physical or emotional injuries sustained during military service, groups like the Waves Project and Warfighter Scuba specialize in diving adjustments for veterans. You can also meet other adaptive divers at events like Indigo Industry’s annual Submerged Adaptive Festival, a three-day sporting event which includes adaptive diver certification for trainers and divers.

Travel is on the table. Some shops, like A-1 Scuba in Denver, Colorado, plan group trips specifically for adaptive divers. For individual trips, consider calling a dive travel specialist like Family Dive Adventures, which has extensive experience planning adaptive dive vacations. You can also look for operators at your destination known for diving adjustments, such as searching for scuba providers that are Certified Autism Centers like Ramon's Village in Belize.

Scuba gear can be altered to accommodate physical diversity. Terrapin, for example, tailors wetsuits, Diving Unlimited International produces custom drysuits, and Indigo Industries manufactures a fin designed for above-the-knee amputees. Webbed gloves are also popular with divers who have limited leg mobility, as they make it easier to power through the water with only your hands.

If you would like to learn how to dive safely with an adaptive diver, consider a PADI Adaptive Support Diver certification. This course trains buddies to accommodate a range of needs, from carrying divers to the water to helping blind divers navigate underwater.

Are you ready to step up, help save the ocean, and #LiveUnfiltered at the same time? Sign up for a PADI Open Water Diver course now.