Washington, DC, January 30, 2013 --(PR.com
)-- Enable America, a nonprofit working to improve employment opportunities for people with disabilities, is commending the U.S. Department of Education’s new directive that students with disabilities must be given equal opportunity to participate in school sports, either on traditional teams or in parallel athletic programs.
“Students with disabilities now have a level field on which to play,” said Richard Salem, founder and chairman of Enable America. “Today it will be in school sports. Later, after graduation, there will hopefully be similar opportunity in the race for a good job.”
According to the directive, students with disabilities should be provided “reasonable modifications” as possible. For example, one such modification would be a visual cue to start a track and field race, allowing deaf students to participate. Providing they can keep up with other students, schools may not exclude students based on a disability. However, they are not required to guarantee anyone with a disability a place on a team.
“Sports can provide invaluable lessons in discipline, selflessness, passion and courage,” said Education Secretary Arne Duncan in announcing the directive. “This guidance will help schools ensure that students with disabilities have an equal opportunity to benefit from the life lessons they can learn on the playing field or on the court.”
Federal laws such as the Rehabilitation Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act have long prevented schools that receive federal funds from discriminating against students with disabilities. But this latest action is more specific, saying access to interscholastic, intramural, and intercollegiate athletics is a civil right.
Enable America has long understood and promoted the value of sports, for people of all ages and capabilities. In 2009, the organization launched “Team Enable,” an initiative that encourages athletic participation for people with disabilities.
“Team Enable is here to encourage all of us to get out and participate,” Salem said. “That can involve activity in sports clubs, team events, even something as simple as organizing a morning walk with your neighbors. This new directive on school sports complements what we have long advocated.”
Since 2002, Enable America has worked to improve the lives of the more than 56 million Americans with disabilities, through programs that improve access to employment. Career Mentoring Programs, Job Seeker Workshops, and VetConnect Programs for disabled veterans and wounded warriors, build bridges between employers, social service agencies and people with disabilities.
Companies, agencies, organizations, and individuals who want to participate in Enable America programs can learn more at the organization’s website, EnableAmerica.org.