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Diving With Disabilities

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A Real Diving Challenge

This page is written and maintained by
 Ernest S Campbell, MD, FACS

Have you ever been on a night dive and had your lights go out? Or, imagine yourself doing a shore dive and you find that someone has tied your feet together; just imagine the difficulty of dragging yourself in and out of the water.

These are just two of the challenges that face disabled people who want to experience the serenity and beauty of scuba diving: the blind person is forever in pitch darkness, the paraplegic faces this wall every day.

In spite of these seemingly insurmountable obstacles, there are many disabled who are participating in scuba diving programs especially designed to assist them to experience our sport safely.

Below are listed various services and contacts for disabled persons who wish to learn more about diving:


Associations and Clubs and Training

Amazing Seals
St. Paul/ Minneapolis Minnesota
Masha Bowen coordinator
We have recently started this exiting new program and working with local rehabilitation centers providing scuba experience for disabled divers. We have PADI and HSA certified instructors.

Arizona Disabled Scuba Divers Foundation

Dawn Callahan


Disabled Diver training in the San Diego area.

John Ellerbrock
PADI Master Instructor
Pinnacle Divers

619.997.DIVE (3483)

Eels on Wheels Adaptive Scuba Club
Aron Waisman,
12338 Limerick Ave,
Austin, Texas, 78758
(512) 873-9121

Article "Challenges of Diving With Disabilities", by Tammie Shelton

National Instructors Association for Divers with Disabilities (NIADD), Dorothy Shrout, P.O. Box 112223, Campbell; CA 95011-2223; (408) 379-6536, (408) 244- 8652 fax
NIADD, San Jose, CA.  Contact Frank Degnan at Any Water Sports, (408)244-4433.  Frank and Dorothy Shrout organize this.

Handicapped Scuba Association, Jim Gatacre, 1104 El Prado, San Clemente, CA 92672-4637, (714) 498-6128,   HSA@HSASCUBA.COM

Houston Disabled Scuba Divers Association, 403 East Nasa Road 1, Suite 325, Webster TX 77598-5314, (713) 477-5556, swa@neosoft.com

Southern Wheelchair Adventurers Association of Galveston-Houston, 403 East Nasa Road 1, Suite 325, Webster TX 77598-5314, (713) 477-5556, (Lytle Seibert); swa@neosoft.com,

Canadian Scuba Diving Clubs for Divers with Disabilities

Diving With Disabilities
Bruce Van Hoorn
14960 Penitencia Creek Road
San Jose, CA 95132

 Bart Schassoort
 3530 Warrensville Center Road
 Suite 200
 Shaker Heights, OH 44122

Open Waters, Paul A. Rollins, Project Coordinator, or Steven Tremblay, Project Director, c/o Alpha One, 127 Main St., South Portland, ME 04106-2622; (800) 640- 7200 (voice or TTY) or (207) 767-2189 (voice or TTY), (207) 799-0355 fax, open_waters@alpha-one.org , http://www.alpha-one.org

The Australian Underwater Federation has published a booklet on teaching disabled divers.  It can be obtained from theAUF Office,
PO BOX 1006,
Civic Square, ACT, 2608, Australia.

IAHD, is a non-profit organization for disabled divers.
www.iahd.org and www.iahd-americas.org

Norges handikapfellesskap in Norway,
Dive Training for the disabled.


Poseidon Handicap Scuba Adventures
501(c)3 Organization
Mark Rausch

Dive Pirates Foundation

The Dive Pirates Foundation is a Houston, Texas based nonprofit group that teaches prospective divers, dive buddies and dive instructors.  In concert with SCUBA  Schools International,  we have developed expertise and curricula that allow individuals with various disabilities to dive.  Now in our tenth year, we are the largest such group, with chapters across the country and more being created.

Our "Classified Diver" program stratifies divers based on ability, provides appropriate training and recommendations.  We train buddies and dive instructors as well.  We plan and execute dive trips, and encourage disabled divers to enter the mainstream of diving.

We have trained over 100 divers with disabilities including those with limb amputations, paraplegia and tetraplegia (aka quadriplegia).

If I have a special passion for this, my situation might be informative.  I am a C7 complete tetraplegic since age 17, a practicing physician and a diver.  I sit on the Board of Directors for the DPF as well.

We would be pleased to be of service to potential divers with disabilities, their buddies, medical professionals and diving professionals.  You can learn more about us at our website:  divepirates.org if you are interested.  If I can be of help, please contact me at your convenience.  Thanks again for your efforts and expertise.

Mark Fredrickson, MD, FAAPMR
Director of Spinal Cord Injury Program
Associate Medical Director
Warm Springs Rehabilitation Hospital
San Antonio, Texas 78229

Work:   210-614-0100
Mobile:  210-573-8208

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