Special Needs People

Who says that those with disabilities and special needs are barred from this sport?  Today’s technology has enabled those with special needs to indulge and delight in the joys of skiing.

The following can enjoy skiing as long as they are supported by adaptive technology:
-    Persons with developmental delays, down syndrome or spinal bifida traumatic brain injury
-    Amputees
-    Persons with Spinal cord injuries or cerebral palsy
-    Those who are blind and deaf or are vision or hearing challenged
-    Persons with muscular dystrophy or multiple sclerosis
-    Persons with Aspergers Syndrome or Autism
-    Persons having suffered stroke or polio

Disabilities need not be a hindrance.  Indeed, there are quite a number of skiers with disabilities that have made their way to the Winter Paralympics, which, like the Olympics of the able bodied counterparts, have a high degree of challenge.  In fact, adaptive races, more often than not, use the same slopes as those who are able bodied.  They are also qualified to join skiing disciplines such as the Giant Slalom, the Slalom and Downhill Skiing.

Of course, competitors are further classified – whether they belong to the Blind, Seated or Standing category. There are more classifications to ensure that there is a level playing field for all.  So the categories will depend on the nature and severity of one’s disability.  There is also a way to allow all competitors regardless of the level of disability and the category to compete for the overall position.  This is done through the use of a Factor System which gives scores to ensure that all is fair.

Blind skiers can also join races, as long as there is a guide who goes before them and who makes tracks they can follow.  The guides are also equipped with special microphones so that the blind skier can hear the instructions.  Those in the seated ski category may participate in the mono ski (a ski frame which allows one to ski even while seated).  These frames can be attached to the ski with the use of high din binding.  Those who have had their legs amputated can also participate by either skiing using only one limb or by using a prosthetic limb.

So, the thinking should be that disability is just a state of mind.  There isn’t anything “disabled” about people with a passion for the sport and who excel in it in their own way.  The only point of difference is that an individual uses adaptive equipment to help him compensate for what he does not have in terms of physical capability.

Skiing can be done not only to show athletic ability but also as a form of exercise, recreation or socialization.  With the use of the right adaptive equipment and the right trainers, any person with a disability can join in the fun.

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