The variety of adaptive activities available for people with disabilities is impressive, these examples are from the United States but I’ve been able to find information from Ontario, Canada, where I’m from, and have applied that here in this article, but I’m sure they apply all over the world. While you may have to do an activity differently, adaptive activities can be just as enjoyable, and you may discover some new activities as you explore what’s available in your area. Here is an overview of the fantastic array of adaptive activities now available for people physical disabilities.
A sport that can be easily adapted for people with paralysis is fishing. Easily enjoyed by both paraplegics and quadriplegics, adaptive fishing is an activity that can be done alongside able-bodied friends and family. There are many accessible fishing products available to help people with mobility issues fish independently. For quadriplegics, there is a wide variety of accessible equipment available, including accessories that attach the fishing rod directly to one’s wheelchair. Learn more about adaptive fishing here: https://moveunitedsport.org/sport/fishing/
Many people with paraplegia and low-level quadriplegia are able to fly airplanes. There are a handful of organizations in the U.S. that help people with disabilities learn how to fly. A few of these aviation organizations are Freedom Wings International in New Jersey (http://www.freedomswings.org/), Able Flight in North Carolina (https://ableflight.org), and International Wheelchair Aviators in Texas (https://www.facebook.com/International-Wheelchair-Aviators-181916075803/?v=info#!/pages/Big-Bear-Lake-CA/International-Wheelchair-Aviators/181916075803?v=wall).
Many people with physical disabilities find adaptive gardening therapeutic. Depending on your outdoor space and physical mobility, there are many different ways gardening can be adapted. Using raised garden beds is a common way many people garden from their wheelchair. Learn more: https:/www.trusted-treesurgeons.com/creating-accessible-gardens-for-disabled.php
For people who enjoy hunting, there are several nonprofits around the states that offer adaptive hunting to people with physical disabilities. AbleOutdoors is a fantastic online resource that has information on adaptive hunting organizations, adaptive equipment, and more. A list of the adaptive hunting organizations in the united states can be found here: http://ableoutdoors.net/able-outdoors-hunting-programs-organizations/
Many people with physical disabilities fall in love with painting. Many quadriplegics are able to paint using their mouths or with their arms using adaptive equipment. To paint at home, you can find adaptive painting supplies here: https://www.dickblick.com/categories/studio/adaptive-art-supplies/. The Mouth and Foot Painting Association is a nonprofit that brings together artists with disabilities from all over the united states. Currently, this organization has a membership of 72 different artists with disabilities. Learn more about the organization here: https://mfpausa.com/
Many people with physical disabilities love rowing, canoeing, kayaking and other adaptive boating in general. Adaptive rowing is also a fast-growing sport. Whether you’re a paraplegic or a quadriplegic, there are accessible boats and adaptive equipment that can help you get out on the water. People with quadriplegia are able to kayak for example thanks to specialized seats that help hold anyone with torso paralysis sit upright and safely in the kayak. Learn more here: https://www.abilitiesinmotion.ca
Many advanced technological advancements make sailing accessible for people with disabilities, and there are a handful of sailboats that work better for people with paralysis. For example, The Challenger sailboat requires minimal body movement from passengers and the Slatts-22 doesn’t require a helmsman to change positions during tacking. For people who can’t use their arms, a Sip n Puff system can also be applied to sailboats, which can be used to steer a sailboat without arm movement. There are a variety of lift systems that help people with paralysis into sailboats as well. Learn more about accessible sailing here: https://disabledsailingontario.com
Many people with physical disabilities enjoy SCUBA diving. A great adaptive diving organization is The Dive Pirates Foundation headquartered in Colorado, (https://divepirates.org), which organizes adaptive dives for people with physical disabilities in Cayman Brac. The Dive heart Foundation (http://www.diveheart.org/) is another adaptive diving organization that offers adaptive diving opportunities in both Florida and Mexico. Learn more about adaptive scuba diving: https://moveunitedsport.org/sport/scuba/ and https://www.hsascuba.com/
For an opportunity to try target shooting, the NRA in the states has a free adaptive shooting program that is free and open to people of all disabilities. A wide variety of adaptations are used to help people shoot, such a mouth trigger or a gun holder/table for assistance holding the gun. Learn more: https://adaptiveshooting.nra.org/
There are hundreds of accessible hiking trails across the united states. Many of these trails are paved, offering people with power chairs an opportunity to hike as well. For those who want to go off-roading, there are several parks across the country that offer Action Track Chair rentals—wheelchairs with all-terrain capabilities—where people with disabilities can explore the great outdoors while going off-trail. Parks that offer these rental chairs can be found in Rochester, New York, Colorado, Wisconsin and Michigan. Learn more about adaptive hiking: https://moveunitedsport.org/sport/hiking/ and find accessible trails across the united states here: https://www.traillink.com/activity/wheelchair-accessible-trails/
Video games have come a long ways in regards to accessibility. Microsoft is leading away with their XBox Adaptive Controller, available for $100 here: https://www.xbox.com/en-US/accessories/controllers/xbox-adaptive-controller. This controller was designed for those with limited finger movement. Logitech also has an adaptive gaming controller, which you can find here: https://www.logitechg.com/en-us/products/gamepads/adaptive-gaming-kit-accessories.html#943-000318. For people who cannot move their arms, the Quadstick controller is available that allows players to control the game completely with their mouth. Learn more about the controller: http://www.quadstick.com/
Many people enjoy billiards/pool post-injury because of how accessible pool tables are in most communities. It is also a sport that can be enjoyed with able-bodied people quite easily. For people with quadriplegia, there are adaptations available to help hold the pool cue.
Another easily accessible recreational activity for wheelchair-users is wheelchair dance. Once you learn the moves, you can perform anywhere, at any time. Wheelchair hip-hop and wheelchair ballroom dance are the most popular. The Rollettes are a wheelchair dance team from California that hold annual adaptive dance gatherings. Learn more about the group: https://www.rollettesdance.com/. Here are other wheelchair dance organizations across the united states: Infinite Flow Dance https://www.infiniteflowdance.org/, American Dance wheels https://www.americandancewheels.org/, AXIS Dance Company.
“Everybody Dance Now!“
Study day on integration of people with disabilities in dance and movement, At Ganei Aviv Community Center, Lod. AXIS Dance Company Changes the Face of Dance and Disability. Pioneering a new dimension of dance – a revolutionary collaboration between dancers with and without disabilities. The U.S. Embassy in Israel initiated a program on the integration of people with disabilities in dance, featuring the celebrated American AXIS Dance Company. The Company integrates professional dancers with and without disabilities, creates beautiful art, and works with communities to promote integration and break stereotypes about disabilities. In Israel AXIS gave workshops, master classes, and lecture demonstrations throughout the country to mixed audiences of adults, youth, and educators from all abilities, ethnic, and socio-economic backgrounds. The program was warmly embraced by local communities and attracted considerable press interest.
A recreational activity growing fast in popularity is indoor skydiving. Available at iFly centers across the united states, indoor skydiving provides an Adrenalin-fueled activity in a safe environment. It is also a great opportunity to feel free of your wheelchair. i Fly puts on regular adaptive indoor skydiving events throughout the year called i Fly All Abilities. Learn more: https://www.iflyworld.com/programs/all-abilities/
A sport that can be adapted to nearly any ability is wheelchair bowling. It is also a great activity you can do with an able-bodied partner. For those with limited arm movement, a ramp is used to push the ball down and into the lane. For those with no arm movement, they can use the IKAN bowler which is controlled with the mouth. It also uses a ramp, which the ball rolls down to enter the lane. For those with normal arm and hand movement, no bowling adaptations are needed except an accessible place to bowl.