Schools must provide sports for students with disabilities, U.S. ed department says
New guidance from the U.S. education department says schools must provide sports for students with disabilities.
January 25th, 2013
12:11 PM ET

Schools must provide sports for students with disabilities, U.S. ed department says

By Brad Lendon, CNN

(CNN) - Schools must give students with disabilities equal opportunities to participate in extracurricular athletics, including varsity sports, the U.S. Department of Education said Friday. And if existing sports don't meet the needs of those students, schools must create additional athletic programs.

Some advocates compared the move to Title IX, the 1972 amendment that mandated gender equity in education and sports programs at schools receiving federal funds. The department’s Office for Civil Rights pointed to a 2010 report from the Government Accountability Office that said disabled students were not getting equal opportunities to participate in sports, a right they were granted under the Rehabilitation Act, passed in 1973.

Denying disabled students’ participation meant that they “may not have equitable access to the health and social benefits” of playing sports, the education department said in a statement Friday.

“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 said in the statement accompanying the guidelines.

Examples of the kinds of accommodations the department is seeking included offering a visual cue, along with a starter pistol, to allow deaf students to participate in track races or allowing a one-hand touch to end swimming races, rather than a two-hand touch, which would allow students with only one arm to participate.

Disabled students should be given the right to prove themselves during actual events and not be offered only practice spots based on their disability, the department’s guidelines said.

The rules say accommodations must be made as long as they don’t give disabled students any advantage over those without a disability, do not fundamentally change the sport in question and do not compromise safety.

The rules apply to all extracurricular athletics, including clubs, intramural sports and varsity, junior varsity and freshman interscholastic teams, the department said.

It said it hopes disabled students can find a in existing programs, but if that is not workable, new programs must be created.

“Students with disabilities who cannot participate in the school district’s existing extracurricular athletics program – even with reasonable modifications or aids and services – should still have an equal opportunity to receive the benefits of extracurricular athletics. When the interests and abilities of some students with disabilities place cannot be as fully and effectively met by the school district’s existing extracurricular athletic program, the school district should create additional opportunities for those students with disabilities,” the guidelines state.

“Participation in extracurricular athletics can be a critical part of a student’s overall educational experience, Seth Galanter, acting assistant secretary for the Office for Civil Rights, said in a statement. “Schools must ensure equal access to that rewarding experience for students with disabilities.”

The American Association of Adapted Sports Programs said Friday’s announcement “will have far reaching positive effects on the lives of children with disabilities.”

“With this new guidance we can further advance our vital work of making sure all kids who want to take part in school sports will have an opportunity to do so,” the organization’s executive director, Beverly Vaughn, said in a statement posted on its Facebook page.

In the same statement, the Inclusive Fitness Coalition, of which the AAASP is a part, likened the new guidelines to Title IX, the legislation that provided for equal opportunity for women in sports.

"This guidance is about expanding opportunities and inclusion," Terri Lakowski, CEO of the advocacy group Active Policy Solutions, said in a Facebook posting. “It’s clear. Schools have a responsibility to provide athletic opportunities to students with disabilities.”

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Filed under: Arne Duncan • education • Policy • Special needs • Sports
soundoff (113 Responses)
  1. James Rodgers

    GREAT IDEA but where is the money to do it. Our Federal Government mandates schools to do this but there are no resources planned to do so. Who trains and pays the new coaches for these separate teams?? Is there a separate league fo rthese kids to compete in? I have coached kids with special needs in intramural sports. It is hard to do. But it can be done. What our wonderful FEDs should do is create "pilot" programs in a few school districts across the country. These can be the feeder schools that will show whether a program will work or not. Special training for coaches and refs and rules committees need to be established beforehand. There is a responsibility by teh Dept of Education not just to say "DO IT" but to support this initiative with clear guidance and funding. Some school districts are struggling enough right now, let's not add any more to their already overflowing cup.

    January 29, 2013 at 11:26 am |
    • earl breaux

      They will need Dr.'s and Nurses on staff at ever school in the country that would be a whole lota money to come from somewhere they better crank up their printing presses and print some worthless money

      January 29, 2013 at 10:22 pm |
    • Kristin

      I have coached many kids with special needs for many years on sports team with every type of kid and I don't find it that difficult to follow the coaches oath to coach kids with special needs at all. I don't care if they lay down and look at the clouds during a soccer games or shot at the wrong basket, they are human beings who deserve a chance like everyone else to have fun and learn some of the rules of the games and most of all what it means to belong. I do it for free! It teaches other kids to be better human beings too.

      February 3, 2013 at 10:12 pm |
  2. LawMom

    I have a colorblind son who finds it hard to distinguish team colors. This law would help him.Schools could easily switch to a pattern v stripe shirt. He would be able to compete the same as other children. BTW, he played hockey until they started team colors and he found he couldn't tell the teams apart when the colors were similar. This law would be a blessing to people like him

    January 28, 2013 at 4:09 pm |
    • Cynic

      Why can't he just look at people's faces? Is he unable to recognize his own teammates?!

      January 29, 2013 at 2:25 am |
      • LawMom

        @ Cynic. He plays hockey, They have helmets on and are all roughly the same size and height at that level

        January 31, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
    • truth

      I'm sure it would be a blessing. Now I want you to consider how much it would cost to have every team in the league change their jerseys just for your son. Consider paying for that out of your own pocket. I'm sure I don't need to tell you how much of a financial burden that would be to the league.

      January 29, 2013 at 1:20 pm |
      • thoughts

        if it became a sport norm to have jerseys in different patterns and colors – not just colors – then all color blind kids would have a chance to play. There are many color blind people – to some degree. I wonder if the patterns would make a difference in how one sees players moving – thinking camaflouge prints or similar – i am sure the topic has been studied – at least by the major leagues – it could become this whole new industry – creating more jobs – and the gov. could give tax breaks to those who had expenditures to accomodate disability rule changes. Things do change – perhaps 'they' should look at stop lights to – although perhaps 'they' have – don't know.

        January 29, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
  3. Megan

    I think schools should provide sports for disability kids so they have a chance to do something that they might love and be like a normal kid.

    January 28, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
  4. fiftyfive55

    I wanted to make 10 million a year playing football but my legs are too short and I'm too fat so someone please start a league paying 10 million dollars a year to fat slow people .This is about how much sense this article makes.

    January 28, 2013 at 11:23 am |
  5. palintwit

    A growing number of us are convinced that Sarah Palin is the only one who can heal and re-unify our country. But first she must return to her motorhome and resume her cross country tour. She will have to visit cities both large and small, being careful to speak only to real Americans, dispensing her sage advice and folksy, homespun common sense solutions. We can be a great nation again if we all follow the "Palin Path".

    January 28, 2013 at 11:06 am |
  6. Scott B

    Completely disagree with this. Those with disabilities should be given a fair shot. If they can't compete with others on an equal playing field, then they shouldn't make the team. Rules should not be changed to give those with disabilities a more equal playing field though. You are hurting all of the other athletes that have trained under the previous rules and who's skills may depend on those rules. The governing body of a sport should set the rules and all of the colleges and anyone else competing should follow.

    January 28, 2013 at 10:49 am |
    • thoughts

      If you can't get simple modifications that will enable one disabled to participate in one district – or one league where the disabled plays – then yes – the fight becomes about making the changes for everyone.
      Like with the color blind – one team could wear a vest like they have in sports gym classes – in addition to their colors – perhaps – or like in football contact games – something that can't be grabbed i suppose – maybe why some of the uniforms are distinctly different for professional leaques – lots of people are color blind to some degree.
      That would be hard to play color blind in some sports. Always interesting to see things in other perspectives.

      January 28, 2013 at 9:10 pm |
  7. Josh

    I was a wrestler and the sport, at least in high school, had specific rules to accommodate lame and blind wrestlers. The starting position was on the knees and they couldn't break contact or they had to restart. I never actually saw a blind or lame wrestler win a match though.

    The official also waves a hand at the start (regardless of who is wrestling) to accommodate deaf wrestlers. Deaf wrestlers were as good as any other wrestlers.

    January 28, 2013 at 10:04 am |
  8. Me

    I have a neuromuscular disorder that affects my hands and makes me write slower than others. I had accommodations for this in school in the form of extended test times. I got twice the amount of time on tests as other students. This did not allow me to complete more of the test than other students. It simply allowed me the time I needed to write down, and thus demonstrate my knowledge in the subject in which I was being tested in. I did not spend the extra time thinking, just writing. To get these accommodations I not only had to submit notes from my doctor's and copies of my medical records, but I had to have a $2000 learning assessment. This is essentially an 8 hour IQ test administered by a psychologist and consisted of various sub tests. The test confirmed my claim that I required more time to write down what I already knew, as opposed to think up the answer to the questions. They do this by giving a series of timed and untimed tests, and comparing performance relative to a large sample of others who, at some point, took the test. For example, when I was asked to complete a certain written task within a certain time frame, I was only able to complete enough of the task such that I was in the 25th percentile relative to others who took the same test. Meaning 75% of the people who took the same test did better than me. However when the time constraints were removed, I was able to complete enough of the test with the correct answers such that I was in the 99th percentile, meaning, under the same conditions, only 1% of those who took the test did better than me.

    These accommodations eventually allowed me to get a degree in physics and mathematics, and gave me a chance at contributing to society. Without such accommodations I would have had very little job prospects, as I physically can't do a lot of lower level jobs, and would likely end up on government assistance.

    January 27, 2013 at 4:07 am |
    • jerseyguy36

      OK, I get your point, or do I? Yes you need more time to write, but, are we to believe that while taking the extra time to write, you are not thinking the problem through more thoroughly? Yes the Numbers stand up to some of the argument but not all of it. I don't know how to take all factors into consideration, but , I tend to believe that the extra time did in fact give you an unfair advantage. Most of life in the corporate world is not about physical doings but rather mental exercise and, yes, Time does count whether speaking, thinking or writing or all at the same time. New rules cannot overcome your quite legitimate handicap and I think it unfair both to the non handicapped and the handicapped to make them believe that the new rule does in fact change anything at all. I would guess that your true level is somewhere between the 25th Percentile and the 1%. Just where, no one knows for sure. What I am saying is fine, give the handicapped the chance to learn, but, do not try to compare apples and oranges. Lowering the bar does not help anyone, remember when you moved up in Percentile, others had to move down. At what point in the range is it completely fair and therefore meaningful?

      January 27, 2013 at 10:53 pm |
  9. Talitha

    I just read all the comments. I think people are missing the point of the article.

    So, I'll relate my experience. I am profoundly bilaterally deaf (I'm deaf in both ears). The thing is, I'm SO deaf, I'm literally off the charts! Anyways, during my four years at high school, I joined the swimming team. I am what you would consider disabled, but I joined a sport in which hearing doesn't play a role, as long as the starter was willing to use his arm to signal for me to get on the block, get ready, and to dive. The pistol actually came with its own light bulb, so I didn't experience any delay in my starting time.

    THAT is what the article meant – if modifications already exist, and if it's not excessively difficult, then the school should allow the disabled students the OPINION to join sports and other activities. The disabled students aren't going to join activities in which they couldn't get the job done – I never joined the color guard, for example, because I'm literally stone deaf. A couple of my fellow deaf students did, however, because they had just enough hearing to allow them to keep up with their hearing peers.

    Nothing too complicated about it, people. Hope my example helps a little. :-)

    January 26, 2013 at 11:41 pm |
    • thoughts

      I thought that was the way it already was – so surprised to see this mentioned now at CNN – except for the Sandy Hook events – so – think that each school should get more resources for this group of schools – paid for under the federal mandate – since all are more aware and the prez. wants to take immediate action. If this is not done pronto – then everything else is a sham ... not that it might not have roots in that anyway ... however – not judging in that category – i think more resources for school children who fit this category that is healthy and not another cop – needs to take priority.

      January 27, 2013 at 4:28 am |
      • morethoughts

        ... to carry a current dialogue that we the people are having with themselves – I saw in news rumours of a draft idea that includes shadows of the nationallism seen in Israel. ... so ... if judging on results so far ... i'd say that the schools will also have origins in nationalistic theory at some point ... however ... starting with diversity training and further classifications is always a good start to keep up with sudden changes as they occur.

        January 27, 2013 at 5:29 am |
      • morethoughts2

        since there is a seperation of church and state – i think it should stay that way – and that ideas like israel nationalistic tendencies derived from religious historical thinking would NOT encompass the minds of most in the USA – grounded in a unifiy theory of seperation of church and state ... and that this unifying theory should find inclusion as well ... just an idea i thought i'd freely speak ...

        it is like you just want to go take all the guns away from EVERYONE and have everyone sit down to a grand feast and THINK!!!!

        i'm tired of wars – as are most ...
        people just need to talk it out – or go get some exercise – paint a different idea – sing a song – play the drums ... whatever

        January 27, 2013 at 6:47 am |
      • morethoughts3

        having a wwiii in mideast makes me sick to think of ...
        i do not see why we the people cannot insist and demand that our goverments GET A GRIP and stop pandering to the war pharma and co., religious nihilistic theory
        not ALL agree with that – as is gathered in noting that religion is NOT a part of USA education – why would ALL follow a religious nihilistic theory than? Unless made to ...
        sucks

        January 27, 2013 at 7:10 am |
    • Scott B

      And I don't really have a problem with a modification like that because it truly gives no one an advantage. Just allows you to compete. The example in the article of changing swimming to allow one hand to touch is different though. That change would give an advantage to some and disadvantage others. I'm no expert, but I'm pretty sure that would require a radical change in how swimmers are taught to finish.

      January 28, 2013 at 10:59 am |
      • Talitha

        You're correct that the swimmers are taught to finish in a specific way (one hand, actually. We glide in and stretch out our arm). I'm on my phone and I have a lousy reception so I can't re-read the article right now, but I was under the impression that they make the modification for the disabled student alon, which doesn't interfere with anybody's else performance. The only instances that I could think of which requires touching with both hands are the breaststroke and butterfly strokes – when you turn, you have to touch the wall with both hands.

        January 30, 2013 at 4:48 pm |
  10. FifthGeneration

    I think that a lot of people are at a misconception about "Special Education" students, these days.
    "Special Education" used to be limited to youngsters with obvious physical disabilities, & those who had Down syndrome, & similar disabilities.
    These days, though, we're talking about 'invisible' disabilities, such as ADHD, ADD, dyslexia, dyscalclia, which have no affect whatever on the individuals PHYSICAL prowess. But for the fact of the classes they take, to help them learn in spite of those learning disabilities, they are indistinguishable from any other given student on campus. There is no reason, except the prejudice against "Special Education" students, to putting these young people on the sports teams fielded by their schools. I suspect it is these otherwise normal, but not-mainstream students, at which this article is aimed.
    Please do not assume that a "Special Education" student is not capable of almost any behavior undertaken by a mainstream student.

    January 26, 2013 at 9:06 pm |
  11. Joey Isotta-Fraschini ©™

    People are different; children have different gifts.
    A boy in my elementary-school class couldn't be passed from one grade to another, but he became a professional baseball player and probably made more money than anyone else in our class.
    I was so good in music that I knew it would be a waste of time to go out for football and remain seated on the bench. After establishing myself in a career, I started working out in a gym at 22.
    Nobody that I know in my field was "well rounded" in school to the extent of playing sports.

    January 26, 2013 at 6:39 pm |
  12. Pablo

    Whats wrong with some inclusion in sports? Maybe some of you complainers need to understand that parents of the disabled pay their fair share of taxes also and want the opportunity for their children also. Instead of being shut out all the time so your children can always reap the benefits and expect the less fortunate to continue to pay the price. Many districts currently manipulate the rules to get special education funding to cover losses in funding, so give the disabled a chance. Remember that life is'nt always about winning, its about doing the best you can and feeling appreciated by everyone for who you are, not based upon things you don't have control over. Visit with the disabled and you'll understand, from a parent of a child.

    January 26, 2013 at 5:19 pm |
    • thoughts

      I'm surprised there isn't inclusion in sports if the child meets the standards already in place for others to compete. If there is a need for exercise inclusion that is the main issue then hiring additional instructors for these kids might work well – and not just inclusion into an aspect of life that might affectively lose its resources for others in order to include a few with more needs -as those others also will understand their rights to have inclusion – as all children are essentially considered protected in this regard under law. The Federal Government will now provide more money for these added expenses I am assuming – like they do for other federal mandates – I do not know. Seems a wiser expenditure than other things ... and will add employment and opportunities for many if done right.

      January 26, 2013 at 6:09 pm |
    • tired of bs

      Nothing wrong with inclusion in some sports. However, the article states that if current accomodations cannot be made, alternate programs must be created for DISABLED (not special ed). So, that leaves it wide open to what will most likely become lawsuits, etc. Yes, starter pistols vs. waving a flag is an easy accomodation, but what about the kids whoe decide they want to have accomodations for team sports? or those severely disabled that they requrie significant modification or will need their own division/league? ARe they going to have to pay to play as your average student now (yes, we have to chip in to fund our athletic programs) does, or will the school divert more funds for them that are ultimately taken away from the educational resources for the rest of the school? I have no problem with helping disabled children, or all children, reach their potention and offering them the best possible education. However, there is a point at which we must balance the needs of the disabled children with the needs of the rest of the school population.

      January 28, 2013 at 11:37 am |
      • thoughts

        more money and opportunities have to be allocated for the disabled – as all children are essentially considered disabled under law – then more money has to be provided by fed. gov. to support the children vs. supporting something not for a child to participate in???
        how does that work? interesting law – much can be done with it if given the money and consideration. Unlike no child left behind – perhaps this specific athletic inclusion for disabled will have a better chance of receiving fed. money to support new programs for these kids who need it as much or more than others perhaps. i read an example where autistic kids were made to wrestle with each out of frustration by the teacher more than anything else ... the teacher did get in trouble though – so – obviously the teacher has a point perhaps – but so do the kids and parents who got upset at the teachers actions ... more money and programs are needed – there is no doubt about that.

        January 28, 2013 at 6:56 pm |
  13. thoughts

    The typical response to school shootings has consisted of playing down the aftermath to discourage copycat attacks as a means to achieve ends desired. The response from the Sandy Hook is just the opposite – and this may not gain acceptance as appropriate reaction to the events unless people understand the true need of inclusion as something good for all. I am not sure that people are willing to see the true needs at this time – nor are they led to think that they have the resources to meet them – since at the same time there is still so much talk of war and recession.

    January 26, 2013 at 4:41 pm |
  14. Mel

    So...now schools will have to spend even more money on sport programs.

    January 26, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
    • Austin

      I totally agree. This is stupid. Not every school can afford to open up new programs. People need to stop complaining about everything in this country. Sometimes life isn't fair. Deal with it people.

      January 26, 2013 at 6:40 pm |
      • AGrey

        None of the accommodations mentioned in the article entailed much, if anything in the way of additional cost.

        January 27, 2013 at 3:33 am |
      • A E

        To Agrey:

        The problem is the line about having to create programs specifically for the disabled if they can't be accommodated with the programs available. Most schools simply don't have the kind of money to just start up a bunch of new programs for just a handful of kids. Now, it's a shame some can't play sports, but maybe someone should point out that there are literally thousands of other enjoyable activities? Nobody wants to say it but sometimes yes, your disability means you can't play sports. It's not the end of the world.

        January 29, 2013 at 11:29 am |
      • Pumpkin

        There is a movie called Pumpkin – something like that
        It is a good chick flick type movie that shows how inclusion with others whom are not disabled helps the disabled to overcome their weaknesses and find their strengths and normality in life.
        It is a good movie to have more understanding and empathy and support for the positives in disabled kids' lives that can occur and be achieved by the inclusion in sports and being accepted into non-disabled kids' lives.

        January 29, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
  15. Brittany

    I am extremely disgusted in reading the majority of these posts. As a special education teacher in a high school, I have an entire class of students with varying levels of awareness that they are "not typical". I am sorry, but who gets to define "typical". That's right, media and uneducated individuals who think the world revolves around them. My students are people just like you and I. They desire to be a part of society, and should be allowed that option. It is federal law that students with disabilities are to have the same opportunities as their typically developing peers. Special education includes students with disabilities as well as gifted and talented students. I am not sure why this article was written in the first place; however, as I previously stated federal law already mandates that children with disabilities be offered the same opportunities as children without disabilities. If schools are not doing this, they are in violation of federal law. I have worked with several students capable of competing with "regular" children. Please educate yourselves. Disabilities are a part of society. No parent wishes for a child with disabilities, and no child wants to be that individual. Unfortunately due to the choices of humankind for thousands of years, genes have been damaged and the initial creation of the world marred. Educate yourselves on these things as well as on the federal laws surrounding this issue.

    January 26, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
    • Jen

      I am a mother of 4. I am blessed with 3 mainstream girls who excel academically, socially and in sports. I also am blessed with an austic son who I am devoted to. I realize his limitations and wish schools would do the same instead of pushing us to make him something he isn't. He will never be like his sisters but our goal is to facilitate him to reach his potential not to make him "normal". I'm tired of schools trying to mainstream him- let these kids be who thay are. I'm a strong proponent of educating our kids and society to have empathy and a deeper understanding of kids and adults with disabilities but we shouldn't penalize the very people who will one day be reponsible with their care. Our schools are already underfunded and now we have this to contend with-

      January 26, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
      • jerseyguy36

        Congratulations for stating that which should be obvious, but, due to everyone falling all over themselves to be Politically correct they try to see the wold as something it just is not nor will ever be. The politicians are at the head of that line. God Bless you and all four of your wonderful Children just as they are already blessed to have such an intelligent and understanding Mother.

        January 27, 2013 at 11:10 pm |
  16. nickels108

    WOW this is ridicules! We need to allow the schools to make these decisions themselves. Besides what really needs to be done is to figure out what in the world is making these afflictions so common place that they are essentially becoming mainstream. THAT IS THE REAL PROBLEM... Where in the hell are all these disabled children coming from and WHY? The next question is how to prevent this?

    January 26, 2013 at 1:18 pm |
    • dimes

      Where they come from is improvements in infant and child mortality. Wherein the past "defective" children would have died or been relegated to an obscure existance, we now care for them no matter the expense. As a society, we have to recognize that the percentage of non-"normal" children will continue to increase as medical practice improves, and we must come to accommodate their increasing numbers.

      January 26, 2013 at 10:51 pm |
  17. Michael

    I don't know about the laws related to the substantial federal money at stake but it will be interesting to watch the unintended consequences resulting from this decision as for schools it could be a real budget-buster. One possibility is schools will simply drop their sports programs. If that isn't possible without loss of Federal dollars then I suppose modification of existing programs to the point that students won't be interested in them might be another avenue. There will be a reaction of some kind, of that we can be certain.

    January 26, 2013 at 11:49 am |
  18. Lorath

    It is sickening how we have abandoned what used to be our "able" population. Kids today grow up thinking they lack something because they have a full set of functional body systems. The mistake started with mainstreaming special education children, robbing intelligent children of the chance to learn more. When we rob the brightest among us, we cap the growth and potential of those who will lead us tomorrow.
    We are on a track to legislate ourselves behind the rest of the world. We cannot pander to the extreme majority and still expect to compete globally for jobs and a high standard of living. Natural selection has to be allowed to work itself out if we are going to advance as a country and as a species. Lemmmings lead the charge for equality.

    January 26, 2013 at 11:00 am |
    • carson

      You put three m's in lemmings. But your point is valid.

      January 26, 2013 at 11:01 am |
      • penelopeaboyd

        No one wants their child to have a disability, and no child wants to have a disability. Most kids with disabilities could play the usual sports without much accommodations. These parents pay taxes too.

        Walk a mile in the shoes of a parent of a child with a disability – and then remember the old acronym TAP (Temporarily Able Bodied). No one is immune from the prospect of disability.

        January 26, 2013 at 12:27 pm |
      • jerseyguy36

        Congratulations for pointing out 3 MMMs in one word .Do you suppose the reason is that this person just can't spell or made a Typo? OOps, I used Capital M's. Is that your reason for reading, to correct spelling of others? Get a life and try to learn from these posts

        January 27, 2013 at 11:17 pm |
    • AGrey

      In my opinion, an advanced society makes reasonable accommodations for those with disabilities. Stephen Hawking has a disability. But with the right accommodations, he has managed to make incredibly valuable contributions to society. Harry Winkler (Fonzie), and Sir Richard Branson have disabilities. They are both dyslexic. But someone took the time to teach them to read and one became a famous actor and the other started a multinational company and became a billionaire. Time and time again, people with disabilities have proven they are often able to become functioning members of society and make valuable contributions to it, when provided with certain, often small accommodations, such as a ramp, a little more time, or a tutor. That is an asset to our county, not a liability. This country is going down hill not because we are making accommodations for those with disabilities, but because of fiscal irresponsibility on Wall Street and in government, and parents who think learning starts and stops in the classroom.

      January 27, 2013 at 3:43 am |
    • Linda

      I hope no one you love ever has or gives birth to a child with special needs. You may be one of "the brightest among us" but you still need to go to Oz to pick up a heart.

      And to others of you who sound remotely like Nazis wanting to cleanse society of this burden of caring for those with special needs, shame on you as well. Shame.

      January 27, 2013 at 11:51 am |
    • actually

      actually natural selection would notice the fact that these non-normals have unique adaptations that allow them to survive as the environment changes. you cannot underestimate the strengths in non-normals that has filled whatever weaknesses they may have different than others – those strengths may hold the key for survival as the environment changes.
      of course natural selection also will enact extinction as it is part of the same cycle – yet those that evolved would be considered non-normal to their non-evolved peers – and the guarantee for non-extinction is not there for either.

      January 27, 2013 at 5:40 pm |
  19. KMS35

    So in a time where they are cutting music programs and art programs due to lack of funds they want to make it mandatory for schools to create programs that affect a handful of people in the interest of fairness? There has to be a line drawn somewhere with this PC crap. They call it a disability for a reason. They don't have the ability to do certain things. I feel bad for them, but that's just life. The real world won't create anything other than a janitor's position for them, so why does the education department expect schools to create a false sense of inclusion? Kids aren't getting the education that they deserve on any level. Creating new programs is asking way too much.

    January 26, 2013 at 10:07 am |
    • thoughts

      the key for improvement has to include programs where all can join in – and make them inclusive to those whose rights are protected to have access to such programs – like kids who need exercise as part of their healthy education, or art, or music. This will teach all that all are included and provide for all children who now suffer in schools where these programs are not incorporated so that they can provide healthy nondiscriminatory access for all. if the district does not have the money – then – under law – the federal goverment will have to provide means to meet the new requirements – just have to have a group push for it who have a lawyer. Anyway, that seems logical – don't know if things work that way or not – it seems worth a shot at getting these programs for all.

      January 26, 2013 at 10:52 am |
  20. S.A. Wolf

    Employing the words,"Equal", and "Disabilities", in the same sentence??????

    January 26, 2013 at 9:11 am |
    • Oscar

      I buy almost everything except food and clothing from online auctions. most people aren't aware of the almost unbelievable deals that they can get from online auction sites. the site that has the best deals is saveBangCom
      and i checked with the better business bureau and was told that it is all legit. how they can sell gift
      cards, laptops, cameras, and all kinds of goodies that we all want for 50-90% off, i don't know. i do
      know that i bought my son an ipad there for less than $100 and my husband a $250 loews gift
      cards for $48. why would i even think about shopping anyplace else?

      January 26, 2013 at 9:24 am |
  21. southern belle

    If "special" kids can get physical, there's no excuse for lard asses.

    January 26, 2013 at 8:08 am |
  22. Cynic

    Show some respect for all the boys who are dragged into an office and ridiculed and bullied because they prefer to sit at home and read instead of running around in a circle while screaming.
    Sports are a feminist plot to turn boys from scholars to wild pack animals. Sports are the main reason why boys lag behind girsl in school.

    January 26, 2013 at 4:37 am |
    • S.A. Wolf

      Training of the mind without training the body is foolish as it is the appropriate metabolic pathways that ENHANCE the mind. Haven't noticed the advent of chronic disease?

      January 26, 2013 at 9:03 am |
    • Austin

      Wow!! Are you really that stupid,,, Here are some facts for you. Participating in sports has been proven to increase test scores and grades in school, as well as, increase self-esteem, establish leadership, and increase physical fitness. I guess you wouldn't know about that. Maybe you need to get out and play a sport. Unfortunately, people with disabilities are not going to have some of these same opportunities. They know that, their parents know that, and society knows that. Sometimes life gives you the short end of the stick. America needs to stop trying to make everyone happy. That just won't work.

      January 26, 2013 at 6:56 pm |
  23. krehator

    We live in an era where everyone wants to be equal, but then again they want to be part of a special group. (nod)

    January 25, 2013 at 10:43 pm |
    • nisroc00

      You obviously do not have a disability? Most people with disabilities just want to fit in or be part of something. I work at a school for people with disabilities, most are mentally challenged. They like activities like fishing, cooking, dancing and many other activities that cannot do without some help. In many ways they just lack confidence because the so-called normal people treat them as lessers, yet the best part is many of them are much more talented that the everyday so-called normal people.

      January 26, 2013 at 1:17 am |
    • thoughts

      I think everyone just wants to have an opportunity to fit into healthy societies and they want their societies to have healthy environments and opportunities for all. i think even the 'normal' people are shafted into understanding at some level the discrimination that is the norm for the not normal – and therefore question why the not normal get consideration at all – since even they – as hopefully normal – cannot survive in the 'normal' society they are faced with – and feel on some level – that they too need special consideration – to have normalcy in their world that is supposedly 'normal' – which is what the non-normal want as well. Perhaps training on diversity and tolerance and acceptance at EVERY grade level that is a mandatory class at EVERY grade would work for society as a whole – Start teaching these kids the things 'we the people – normal or not' inherently know is the 'right' thing to do – i mean – acceptance is actually a good way to understand forgiveness – so teaching acceptance of others is a good way to teach this life skill that many talk and think on – yet few truly understand nor know how to fully enact – like – how can someone who is 'not normal' have reason to have quilt placed on them simply if they do not fit into what is considered 'normal' – when having others who are 'not normal' is a part of normal – therefore someone not accepting 'not normal' would eventually have implications of 'not normal' in and of itself – therefore – my friend – you are accepted for having 'not normal' thoughts concerning the 'not normal' would eventually morph into 'not normal' ... yet this 'not normal' would also have acceptance.

      January 26, 2013 at 4:54 am |
      • morethoughts

        Perhaps creating afterschool intramural leaques for every district that plays ALL people – not just a select few – would give ALL a chance to have this wonderfully healthy outlet at their schools that would certainly include ALL – it would take money as well – yet the goal of inclusive healthy sports for ALL will uphold the goal for ALL.

        January 26, 2013 at 5:48 am |
      • morethoughts2

        I think the fact that civil rights has to have mandates to enact in society is an indication that people are naturally discriminatory and prejudicial – in one way or another – and that this is how humankind has survived for civil rights to have need of legislation to mandate something not quite natural – yet needed as new norm for humankind to survive in current society.
        However – the natural tendencies are still there to discriminate – due to the fact that education is needed in order to change this new needed norm into reality – since it is learned and not natural to most.
        This is not done – so the mandates do not work – due to nature vs. nurture at a societal level where the mandates exist – not in homes where the mandates are not law – so are not guaranteed.
        Therefore – more training is needed at societal levels that guide, protect, and pay for the schools – which is 'we the people'.
        Since there is separation of church and state – and therefore education – the values needed to enact these changes in people that might normally take an active inclusive priority in religions – have to now also take priority at schools since there is no assumption of religious training for any.

        January 26, 2013 at 8:35 am |
  24. bobg

    This just in. Gigantic Pro-Life rally in Washington. Larger turnout than last year's 400,000. If you watch only CNN for your news, you probably weren't even aware there was anything going in DC besides gun control debate and Hillary,

    January 25, 2013 at 10:15 pm |
    • geggyg

      Actually there is a report about it in the Political Ticker , there was a link to it on the front page about 8 hrs ago , i clicked on it .

      January 26, 2013 at 4:33 am |
  25. Paul

    IF the feds want this to happen then they need to supply the money...Schools Dist. are broke half the time. THis is just like no child left behind ..the fed told schools what they need to do but did not fund for the extras come uncle.sam cough up yhe extra money cut out spending on oversea countries and invest in all our kids doesnt matter if they able or dis able.. its all for he kids period...

    January 25, 2013 at 8:52 pm |
  26. Paul

    If the feds want this they should provide the funding to go.with it... schools r broke

    January 25, 2013 at 8:48 pm |
  27. Frank

    Yeah. A kid in a powered wheelchair playing Footbal or swimming or "running"'track.

    January 25, 2013 at 8:23 pm |
  28. Amy

    I cannot believe some of the hurtful things posted. School is a wonderful place for growth, not just learning how to read, write and do 'rithmatic. If we can spend thousands of dollars on one or a few sports, why not share the money with others? I have seen a coxswain who cannot walk and a volley ball player with half an arm, so why not spend an extra $20 on red flags to complement a starter pistol, allow "one-hand touch" in swimming, or other modifications?

    As the DOE stated, the intent is to include more kids and not to change the sport itself or cause injury to anyone. Many sports have handicaps/categories for weight classes, age, and the like, so what is so controversial? They are NOT stating that blind kids engage in archery or that able-bodies kids cannot continue to play sports. It is about INCLUSION.

    Perhaps the anger I see from others in these posts are from those who like the idea of exclusion and are threatened that having a handicapped child earn a letter jacket or award somehow "cheapens" their own (or their able-bodied child's) letter jacket, trophies, or award. That, while an understandable emotion, does not mean that it is right to continue to discriminate against children who did not choose to be less than able-bodied and do not deserve to be excluded any more.

    January 25, 2013 at 7:06 pm |
    • leigh

      I'm a secondary math teacher that operates using a computer from 3 presidential administrations ago, I buy my own supplies, and when my printer goes out, i get to replace it out of my pocket. I made more money bartending 25 years ago than I do now. Teachers teach because we love and believe in our students. That being said, it is an absolute slap in the face to hear of yet another idiotic initiative from our pathetic department of education. I started this school year with NO TEXTBOOKS for a precalculus and a calculus class. Why? The county couldn't afford them. Let's get our priorities straight, people. I'm not a fan of special education, but the physically handicapped do deserve a least restrictive environment. That being said, I believe our money would be better spent on...oh, I don't know...EDUCATION!

      January 26, 2013 at 12:50 am |
      • thoughts

        that is the major problem isn't it – the fed gov. not providing the money for it's mandates that require more money than the school districts have to provide the environment that the fed. gov. states is needed for every child to succeed or have equal ed. and access to ed.
        so the fed. gov. is the one at fault then??? They are essentially discriminating against a class of citizens – who under law – are all considered disabled (by definition in the broader legal sense) – by not providing them the same opportunities in terms of monetary support to achieve equal access and inclusion as described by this law – as say – what? Would the fed. gov. have to provide money to another group of nonschool age children for the same opportunities for this logic to work??? I don't know – it is a problem that mandates are placed – but no money is allocated to support them – and the states don't have the money available. I think from the logic pondered – if the states are giving money for able sports – they have to give money for disabled sports as well – or giving money to colleges – than have to give money to noncollege kids as well who may not be same age group. So therefore, it will again fall to the states to provide the money? The states will have to repriortize their spending again – that is all. from what i've seen – they need to do that regardless for the disabled – as by law – equal access to services is a law – like to healthcare and to education – and yet you do not see that happening in terms of many of the illnessess that cause disability, especially those that fall in the mental health category of spending. If the money is not increased – than the letter of law is not followed – as all children have rights to inclusion – so shorting one for the other is not an option – like with the example of the one armed swimmers – and having to change the sport to all using a one arm approach – to make it truly fair – which is fairly flip thinking when you think that the swimmer is already at a disadvantage with only one arm – so is that a right example or not – would ALL have to switch to one arm finish – if they indeed have two arms that can be used in the finish???
        It is an interesting law if you have the money and desire to work with it – and quidelines that are rational and make sense, and are sustainable.

        January 28, 2013 at 6:28 pm |
  29. David

    I thought they already did that with all the videos on you tube of the disabled scoring touchdowns.

    January 25, 2013 at 6:56 pm |
  30. JIm Walker

    The ignorance shown on this board in regards to people with disabilities is very disheartening. The disabled just want to be included in a meaningful way rather than just told "No, you can't because your ___".

    January 25, 2013 at 6:36 pm |
    • Brian

      Waaaaah, it's not fair. The last kid cut from the team just wants to be included too. What about him? Leave Varsity out of it.

      January 25, 2013 at 7:01 pm |
      • Amy

        I just hope you are writing from a place of ignorance and not hate. The difference between being cut from a team that you had the chance to try out for and not being able to try out for a team is opportunity. Yes, life is not fair - that is why some kids are able-bodied and some are not. Why are you being so disrepectful and lhave you no compassion? I would never wish that you have a disabled child but if you saw the wistful and sad look on his/her face when people like you say these mean things, you would understand that just having a chance is all that they wish for.

        January 25, 2013 at 7:13 pm |
      • jay

        Amy who says a one armed or no armed kid cant try out for a sport like baseball? They can but does that mean we have to change therules for him or her? Christ where does it end???

        January 25, 2013 at 9:49 pm |
      • fairplay

        Brian,

        You sir, are a tool.

        January 25, 2013 at 11:36 pm |
      • AGrey

        Jay: If you read the full article, you will see that any changes must not fundamentally change the sport. For example, having hand motions used to signify for deaf people when to start a race, does not fundamentally change the sport. Allowing a one arm touch in swimming doesn't really fundamentally change the sport either. Nor does allowing someone who is paralyzed from the waist down, push off the diving platform instead of jump off.

        January 27, 2013 at 3:52 am |
    • leigh

      I got cut from the basketball team. It just meant there were people better at it than me. Reality check!

      January 26, 2013 at 12:53 am |
      • Jessica

        Yeah, but that's just because you suck at basketball. Not the same situation.

        January 26, 2013 at 10:06 am |
    • Kristin

      Thank you sir, this is the truth. Nothing is more difficult as a parent of a teen with high functioning autism than telling them the world is not going to be the easiest place for you but you must find it within yourself to prove them wrong just like Einstein and Newton did. This is after his so called friends have told him they don't want to hang around you at school because they don't want to be seen with an autistic kid. I called the parents and the kids called my son to apologize. These other kids just need some one to teach them sensitivity is all and they learned something in a nice way. I didn't call the school, I would think all humans need to be forgiven at many times like the folks on this site.

      February 3, 2013 at 10:27 pm |
  31. empresstrudy

    Why? Schools don't have sports at all. Too busy being social workers, midwives and gang violence counselors. Anyway someone might sue them.

    Nah, I think, I hope, everyone gets so fat and lazy they start dying off at age 35.

    January 25, 2013 at 6:06 pm |
  32. Max

    It's cool, our schools have an abundance of surplus cash to cover this.

    January 25, 2013 at 5:53 pm |
  33. Daaave

    Name*penguin - You hit the nail on the head!!!

    January 25, 2013 at 5:43 pm |
  34. christopher frierson

    I thought all high schools had this already. Its called dodgeball..... Usually the kids with a limb missing hide behind the wheelchair cliche..... And the "slow" students try to hump the balls that get away....

    January 25, 2013 at 5:42 pm |
    • jay

      Heeeelarious!!! :)

      January 25, 2013 at 9:51 pm |
  35. Joe

    Now we're going to spend much needed money in the school system for a program that has no long-term benefits. This is utterly rediculous!

    January 25, 2013 at 5:38 pm |
  36. Lord Vader

    Its two bad thee departmint ov edukashun dus not make CNN bloggers spell korrectly

    January 25, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
  37. Lord Vader

    If people with mental disabilities can get voted into office, anyhthing can happen.

    January 25, 2013 at 4:43 pm |
    • Jessica

      Yeah, now you got a chance!

      January 26, 2013 at 10:07 am |
    • Kristin

      Einstein and Newton the great contributors to phyics would have both been considered on the spectrum by today's standards. Both names are synonymous with genius.

      February 3, 2013 at 10:31 pm |
  38. Meesa feel sickie

    Right !!

    And the NFL, NHL, and NBA should all have to make accommodations for disabled players.

    After all, Stephen Hawking is a bloody mental genius, maybe he's good at basketball too :) And Helen Keller can skate and score with the best of them... with the proper 'cues'.

    January 25, 2013 at 4:40 pm |
  39. amy lothamer

    It is apparent that many of you do not have interaction with special needs kids are mostly excluded from everything.

    January 25, 2013 at 4:32 pm |
  40. tired of bs

    Here's to the end of school sport programs. No way we can fund this. Isn't the fact that most special ed classes better equipped and staffed than standard classrooms enough?

    January 25, 2013 at 4:17 pm |
  41. The Mayor of Medinah

    Under Arne’s watch the Chicago school system reached a 600 million dollar deficit…. So this should help it reach that coveted Billion dollar point. Chicago should be proud of one of it’s own

    January 25, 2013 at 3:53 pm |
  42. yankeenuts

    It's the politically correct thing to do.

    Does the international space station have a wheelchair ramp ? or signs in Braille ? That's discrimi nation

    January 25, 2013 at 3:52 pm |
  43. The Mayor of Medinah

    I am not sure how this will prepare the child for the rest of his life in the real world. I could understand participation in a capacity that the individual can contribute at.

    January 25, 2013 at 3:50 pm |
  44. The Mayor of Medinah

    So what if the school only has one disabled kid?

    I remember having to try out for a team?

    Another one of the genius’s from Chicago comrades with another bright idea that will cost the TAX PAYERS OF THIS COUNTRY MORE $$

    Our schools are having a hard enough time with spending $$ on education let alone this

    January 25, 2013 at 3:48 pm |
    • Kristin

      Because schools that are federally funded they like to label every kid that is just a little eccentric but very smart as having Autism and yes they get more funds for it. Not everyone that is very smart is able to learn exactly the same way so they have specail education. Every kid deserves a chance, what if this was your child?

      February 3, 2013 at 10:34 pm |
  45. Name*penguin

    A fine idea unless it encourages schools to eliminate sports to save money. This would increase participation in sports outside of school, but only for those who can afford it.

    January 25, 2013 at 3:31 pm |
  46. Daaave

    I believe students in our school district (in Texas) do have the ability to participate in all sports where they are physically capable (i.e. a quad amputee is probably not going to be on the pole volt team). However, to make varsity they still must perform at the level needed to be one of the top athletes in the school for that sport. I don't see how that can be changed, or why they would want to change it. Heck, I am short, lack vertical leaping ability, and can't dribble of shoot a basketball well. I would NEVER expect to be place (or accepted) on the varsity basketball team at the school I went to.

    January 25, 2013 at 3:27 pm |
  47. Cody Burke

    People always want unreasonable things but then when it comes time that they have to pay for it through taxes they complain and want a tax break.

    January 25, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
  48. Kegan

    And of course, everyone gets a trophy at the end.

    January 25, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
    • Eric

      why not? either way it's just an arbitrary set of rules and goals. it's not like an athletic achievement is an achievement properly construed.

      January 25, 2013 at 3:22 pm |
    • Tom

      LOL, that really teaches them about the real world doesn't it?!
      So if you only have one disabled kid in school, then what? Do you have to bring more in to accomodate one kid?

      January 25, 2013 at 3:46 pm |
      • Jessica

        Actually it does teach them about the "real world", at least in the US. You see, there's this little law that requires colleges and employers to accommodate people with disabilities much like this school has to. It helps disabled people become self-sustaining so that they don't end up on SSI, which is funded by (gasp!) tax dollars...

        January 26, 2013 at 10:15 am |