Interacting with Athletes with Disabilities
Baseball is America's pastime, which means it is for all citizens regardless of level of ability. However, some players face additional challenges when it comes to participation in baseball. Coaches, players, parents and umpires should be aware of how to interact with individuals with disabilities to better create a positive environment for everyone.
When interacting with individuals with disabilities:
- Always give the same level of respect to everyone.
- Have open communication from the start about abilities and limitations.
- Be sure to consult with others for more information on conditions if needed.
- Speak directly to the individual with a disability.
- Respect any assistive devices, such as canes or wheelchairs, and always ask before moving assistive devices.
- Be considerate of the modifications to the game or the extra time they may need.
- Always use person-first terminology.
- Using terms such as "handicapped" or "wheelchair bound" are both outdated and offensive. Be sure to use person-first terminology by saying "an individual with visual impairment," "an individual with limb loss," "an individual who uses a wheelchair," or similar phrases.
- Remember that some disabilities may not be easily noticeable and can be hidden, such as dyslexia and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.
- Coaches should work with the athlete to modify sport techniques, but try not to over adapt. It is also okay to ask the athlete the best ways for him/her to be successful.
By keeping these points in mind, coaches, parents and teammates can work together to ensure that all players have the opportunity to participate in baseball in a safe, respectful and positive environment.
For more information and resources for the community of athletes with a disability, please visit NCHPAD at www.nchpad.org.
More resources for athletes with a disability will be offered by USA Baseball in the coming months.