Blog I live under water
Diving for the disabled

Diving for the disabled – diving without barriers

Diving for people with disabilities

Diving for the disabled? Diving is the easiest way to move to a different, better reality. The stress and worries of daily life are left on shore — you become free under water. Diving is also a sport which accepts all kinds of people, even persons with disabilities. Your body will not stop you from exploring the underwater world — a difficult diving spot, however, may. Not all diving sites are suitable for all divers. This may make you think that that the barrier to entry of diving for a disabled person is too high. Is it really, though? Or is a little good-hearted help from a diving center enough to let anyone start diving?

Persons with disabilities – who can dive?

There are only a few conditions which will prevent someone from diving: serious cardiovascular, respiratory and/or mental disorders. Except for individuals with the any of the aforementioned conditions, almost anyone can dive… people with paralyzed limbs, those who are deaf, and even those who are blind. People with disabilities use the same equipment as all other divers, and they are subject to the exact same safety standards. Depending on the degree of their disability, they usually dive with the help of one or two partners.

Diving for the disabled
Diving with disabilities

Where do disabled people dive?

In Poland, disabled people dive in Warsaw, Lublin, Zabrze, and many other areas. They sometimes practice in natural water bodies, for example in Ińsko and Hańcza. Usually, however, they choose swimming pools, because Polish lakes are often unsuitable for them. Adaptation of a diving spot for the needs of people with disabilities is not difficult — a bathroom equipped with a handrail and good entrance to the water is usually enough. Despite such minimal requirements, many places still are not suitable for disabled divers.

Entities associated with disabled people also organize foreign trips and/or courses — mainly to the Black and Adriatic Seas. The water there is warm, which is important for people with limb paralysis as they often have problems with thermoregulation.

Why is it so important?

Diving can be part of rehabilitation regime that improves not only the physical, but also the mental condition of disabled people. Underwater, everyone is equal — disabilities cease to exist. Thanks to an increased buoyancy, wheelchair users are no longer slaves to gravity. Their bodies are light as a feather. The standard communication system used while diving is based on body gestures, and is not a limitation for deaf people. Diving helps break down barriers and makes people with disabilities become more aware of their own abilities. It motivates people to take on challenges, it is a great medium for integration between people, and in the end: it gives a lot of satisfaction.

Organizations and courses

The HSA – Handicapped Scuba Association is the largest global association, which primarily focuses on organizing diving courses for people with disabilities. The HSA developed the Buddy Team training program. It is unique because a disabled person’s course takes place simultaneously with the course of a Dive Buddy — a diving companion. Dive Buddies can be friends, family members or spouses. This course combines the standard knowledge which the PADI OWD course does, but extends skills in the field of rescue. This type of training is provided by an increasing number of diving centers. Other organizations which offer similar courses include the “To ma sens” (which translates to “it makes sense”) foundation from Warsaw and the Silesian Association of Disabled Scuba Divers.

Łukasz Głowacki

I’ve been diving for almost 10 years. The underwater world won my heart quite quickly. From the very beginning I wanted to be a good diver and partner, so I kept practising until I got a Master Scuba Diver PADI degree. I dive in hot and cold waters around the world. The thing I like most about diving is the sense of weightlessness and possibility to dive in the depths. I’m not too demanding when it comes to the landscapes, although I do enjoy their diversity, so I like diving in different places and conditions.

Do you want to be up to date?