Special Education News in Brief

Guidance Issued on Athletes With Disabilities

By Christina A. Samuels — January 29, 2013 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The U.S. Department of Education has issued guidance detailing the obligation schools have to ensure that students with disabilities have an equal opportunity to participate in school athletics.

Offering students the chance to participate in sports does not mean making fundamental changes to an event or accepting every student with a disability that shows interest, the guidance released last week notes. However, schools should make reasonable modifications.

The guidance offered some examples, such as allowing a visual cue alongside a starter pistol so that a student with a hearing impairment who is fast enough to qualify for the track team can compete. Another reasonable modification could be waiving a rule requiring a “two-hand touch” finish in swim events so that a one-armed swimmer can participate in races.

The department also said that schools may be required to provide accommodations to students outside of normal school hours. For example, if a young student with diabetes is provided health assistance with blood-sugar monitoring and insulin injections during the school day, he or she should also receive that assistance in order to participate in extracurricular sports after school.

Many students with disabilities won’t need any modifications, said Seth M. Galanter, the department’s acting assistant secretary for civil rights. But schools should avoid stereotypes and generalizations when it comes to evaluating whether a student can participate in a sport, he said.

“One student may not be able to play a certain type of sport, but a different student with the same disability may be able to play that sport and thrive,” Mr. Galanter said in a press briefing.

The department said the guidance is in response to a 2010 report from the Government Accountability Office on students with disabilities and sports participation. The GAO noted that at the schools its researchers visited, students with disabilities participated in sports, but at a lower rate than their nondisabled peers. The report says that schools were seeking guidance on the issue.

A version of this article appeared in the January 30, 2013 edition of Education Week as Guidance Issued on Athletes With Disabilities


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Student Well-Being Webinar
Attend to the Whole Child: Non-Academic Factors within MTSS
Learn strategies for proactively identifying and addressing non-academic barriers to student success within an MTSS framework.
Content provided by Renaissance
Classroom Technology K-12 Essentials Forum How to Teach Digital & Media Literacy in the Age of AI
Join this free event to dig into crucial questions about how to help students build a foundation of digital literacy.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Special Education Can AI Help With Special Ed.? There's Promise—and Reason to Be Cautious
Some special education professionals are experimenting with the technology.
3 min read
Photo collage of woman using tablet computer and AI icon.
iStock / Getty Images Plus
Special Education Many Students Can Get Special Ed. Until Age 22. What Districts Should Do
School districts' responsibilities under federal special education law aren't always clear-cut.
4 min read
Instructor working with adult special needs student.
Special Education How a Mindset Shift Can Help Solve Special Education Misidentification
Many educators face the problem of misidentification of special education students. Here are strategies educators are using to fix it.
3 min read
Timothy Allison, a collaborative special education teacher in Birmingham, Ala., works with a student at Sun Valley Elementary School on Sept. 8, 2022.
Timothy Allison, a collaborative special education teacher in Birmingham, Ala., works with a student at Sun Valley Elementary School on Sept. 8, 2022.
Jay Reeves/AP
Special Education Impact of Missed Special Ed. Evaluations Could Echo for Years
The onset of COVID-19 slowed special education identification. Four years later, a new study hints at the massive scale of the impact.
6 min read
Blank puzzle pieces in a bunch with a person icon tile standing alone to the side.
Liz Yap/Education Week with iStock/Getty