by Lyn Lomasi, Staff Writer
Different types of extracurricular sports options can help make it possible for people with disabilities to participate in a variety of sporting activities. Electronic, segregated, unified, parallel and regular sports all are options for persons with disabilities. There are some major and minor differences between these five methods of extracurricular sports activities available to students with disabilities.
Electronic sports are those extracurricular activities in which the results are computed electronically. These types of sports are useful to those with disabilities, as they can make game play more accessible, depending on the individual's disability. This can also prevent any unfair scoring from taking place. An example of an electronic extracurricular sport is bowling. In bowling, a computer keeps track of the turns and scores of players. It is all displayed on a monitor near the bowling lane. Other electronic sports for extracurricular activity include the shot put, the high jump, track and field and power lifting.
In parallel sports, those with disabilities run their sports activities during a certain meet or event after or at the same time as those without disabilities. For instance, if the event in the competition or track meet is a long jump, those without disabilities would complete their event together. Then, immediately following would be the same event for individuals with disabilities. At times, the two groups may participate together in the same event. Paralympics is one example where parallel sports are effectively used for students with disabilities. Special Olympics is another organization that employs parallel, extracurricular sporting methods.
When students with disabilities play on segregated sports teams, they play and compete only with each other. They do not compete in extracurricular activities with individuals who do not have disabilities. This is common in special programs created for individuals with disabilities. Many public and private schools offer these options to students with disabilities. The disabilities can be either mental or physical.
Unified sports are those in which students with disabilities participate in the extracurricular sports activities with others who do not have disabilities. An example of unified sports would be a team for students with disabilities accepting those without disabilities to play on their team for reasons of either filling team number requirements or just to be inclusive of everyone. The same could occur in reverse where a "regular" sports team allows students with disabilities to participate.
This, of course, is when students with disabilities play on "regular" sports teams. Similar to unified sports, everyone plays together. However, the difference is that with regular sports, there may or may not be mention of a student's disability. Accessibility issues are addressed when or if they arise. For instance, someone who has a prosthetic arm or leg could play along with students who do not have any physical disabilities. This type of interspersion is often done to foster the notion that everyone is equal and should play and compete on teams together.
*I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network
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