On Friday, in a landmark decision, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights said that children with disabilities have the right to participate in their school’s extracurricular activities under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. Students with disabilities must now be given an opportunity to play for their school teams with modifications and aids as required. This applies to grade, secondary, and even college-level public institutions.
However, where accommodations would “fundamentally alter” the sport, or create an unfair advantage, schools must create a separate, but equal sports opportunity for children with disabilities to participate. And, students will still have to try-out and will have to meet certain skill standards to join, just like other students.
“Sports can provide invaluable lessons in discipline, selflessness, passion and courage, and 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,” – Education Secretary Arne Duncan.
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