Leisure, sports, and play are just as important in maintaining health as other activities are in contributing to your health. Difficulty with mobility, holding onto objects, or visual impairments will change the way you engage in leisure, but does not have to stop your participation in these valued activities. We have selected a few activities in which people with disabilities can continue to do the things they love.
You can continue to enjoy participating in outdoor activities such as hunting and fishing even if you have a physical disability. Several different adaptations can be made to fishing rods, rifles, and shotguns to enable your participation.
For example, an assistive technology device called The Strong Arm, can aid you in fishing, whether you have limited to no grip strength. The Strong Arm is a versatile fishing rod holder made of 6 oz. oil-treated leather and can be worn over or under most clothing. This rod holder allows individuals to cast by themselves.
For hunting, there are different mounting equipment, trigger pulls, and scopes for individuals using wheelchairs for mobility. Portable ground blinds large enough to conceal a wheelchair can be set up and taken down by someone assisting the hunter. One example of a ground blind is the Doghouse Ground Blind, or a blind that can be worn by the individual, called Bush in a Bag. There are even technologies to assist hunters with hearing impairments and low vision.
To get an idea of adaptive equipment for fishing and hunting visit the following commercial websites.
According to the Oklahoma Wildlife Department’s Disability Resource Guide, individuals who are legal residents of Oklahoma, who have lived in the state for at least six months, and are receiving Social Security Disability benefits may purchase a five-year disability hunting or fishing license for $10.
Individuals with disabilities who have difficulty using hunting/fishing equipment are not required to purchase licenses if they carry a letter from a doctor specifying their disability and functional limitations. Individuals who utilize wheelchairs are also exempt from hunting/fishing licenses if they carry a doctor’s letter that specifies their disability. Individuals who are non-ambulatory and wish to hunt from a vehicle on private lands must obtain a non-ambulatory permit. Veterans with disability ratings of 60% or more can obtain a card exempting them from purchasing a hunting or fishing license from the Veterans Administration (VA) office in Muskogee. The office can be contacted at (888) 655-2838.
Residents of Oklahoma institutions being treated for mental illness, alcohol or drug dependence, and individuals with developmental disablity and residing in a group home or other institution are also exempt from fishing/hunting license requirements.
For more information on disability hunting and fishing license provisions, contact the Wildlife Conservation Department at:
(405) 521-3851 (Voice)
(405) 521-3852 (Voice – Licensing)
1801 N. Lincoln Boulevard
Oklahoma City, OK 73105
Many wheelchair accessible trails in Oklahoma allow individuals with mobility devices to get out into nature or go for walks with friends and companions. Of course, not all trails will suit everyone’s needs.
According to Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority (2006) in Malibu, CA, in order for a trail to be accessible the surface must be firm and stable. Some stable surfaces include asphalt and concrete. The width of a trail must be at least four feet wide; however, five feet is preferred because it allows passing space for wheelchair users. The running slope of a walkway/trail should be 1:20 or less but no greater than a slope of 1:50 (Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority, 2006).
You would need to use your individual judgment about the safety and usability of a trail, especially if there have been weather-related events in the area.
Other considerations involve ensuring a trail is accessible, beyond just the trail or pathway itself. An accessible area must also have accessible bathrooms, signage, parking, railings, and ramps. For more information, visit American Trails, a nonprofit organization that hosts information on accessible trail issues:
The TrailLink website by Rails-to-Trails Conservancy provided a list of these wheelchair accessible trails in Oklahoma:
For more information regarding these trails, visit:
Adaptive sports are modified or designed to allow individuals with disabilities the opportunity to participate in sports. More information about adaptive sports and starting a team can be found at Disabled Sports USA, a nonprofit organization seeking to provide adaptive sports opportunities for individuals with disabilities. The Disabled Sports USA website (http://www.disabledsportsusa.org/resources/adaptive-sports/) lists adaptive sports and equipment available to participate in these sports as well as other resources. Even if there is not currently a team sport in your local community, you could start one with enough information and some community interest from other potential players with disabilities.
In Oklahoma, there are several resources regarding adaptive and accessible sports. The Greater Oklahoma Disabled Sports Association (GODSA), in Piedmont, allows individuals with disabilities to participate in adaptive sports and leisure activities including basketball, swimming, road racing, kayaking, and other sports. In order to participate in GODSA, there is a $35 annual membership fee and an additional fee of $10 per sport/activity the individual participates in. The fee helps pay for equipment and rentals as well as insurance.
For more information regarding GODSA, visit http://godsa.org or contact their office at
The Center for Individuals with Physical Challenges, in Tulsa, provides rehabilitative services, adaptive recreation, and community reintegration services for individuals with disabilities. The Center’s rehabilitative services include individually-designed rehabilitative exercise programs, exercise classes, breathing and meditation, leisure education, and life skills as well as transitional services. Adaptive recreation services include classes in computer usage, creative cooking, creative writing, drawing, painting, and several other classes. Community reintegration services include bowling, water aerobics, and horseback riding as well as other activities that promote independence and allow individuals with disabilities to participate in their community. The Center also has several support groups. To become a member of the Center, you must have:
You may contact The Center for Individuals with Physical Challenges via phone at (918) 584-8607 or visit http://www.tulsacenter.org.
The Oklahoma Boathouse Foundation (OKCBF) in Oklahoma City provides adaptive rowing and canoeing/kayaking to individuals with physical challenges or disabilities. OKCBF is located at 725 S. Lincoln Boulevard in Oklahoma City, OK. If you are interested in joining or would like to learn more contact OKCBF at (405) 552-4040 or online at www.boathousedistrict.org.
Snow Skiing and Other Adventure Sports
Adaptive skiing programs are available at several well-known winter resorts in the United States. If you are interested in adaptive snow skiing, contact the resort you are interested in visiting to learn if they have a ski program that supports your disability concerns.
The National Sports Center for the Disabled (NSCD), located in Colorado, has information linking you to alpine skiing, rafting, rock climbing, snowboarding, and other adventurous outdoor sports. You can find more information about the NSCD and programs at: http://nscd.org
If your taste in recreation involves horses, there are programs available for therapeutic riding. Find a list of Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH, Intl.) members in Oklahoma at the end of this section.
PATH, Intl. is a nonprofit organization promoting equine-assisted activities and therapies for individuals with disabilities. Many PATH, Intl. members offer therapeutic riding, hippotherapy, driving, vaulting, ground work, and stable management training. To learn more about PATH and equine activities go to: http://www.pathintl.org
Another nonprofit organization involved in equestrian sport is the United States Driving for the Disabled, Inc. (USDD), based in Michigan. Not only does this organization teach you how to drive a small team of horses, it can also introduce different kinds of adaptive equipment (buggies or carts) to support driving. The organization also has competitions to test horse handling and cart skills against other drivers. For more information on the USDD, go to: http://usdfd.org
If you are interested in showing horses, the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) has guidelines for equestrians with disabilities to compete in AQHA events. For more information about Equestrians with Disabilities guidelines visit http://www.aqha.com/Showing (click on the “Equestrians with Disabilities” link found under “Shows/Eligibility”).
Lastly, if you are interested in obtaining a saddle designed for supporting a rider with a disability, several makers sell them. One example is Gray Saddlery in Arkansas.
For more ideas visit:
In general, adapted saddles incorporate features like high cantles, larger bucking swells, padded seating, and quick-release stirrups. Some equestrians and cowboys/cowgirls use adapted saddles to participate in rodeo events like barrel racing, roping, or team penning.
Some of Oklahoma’s state parks have accessible features. If you are interested in going to a state park, visit: http://www.travelok.com/.
To determine if the state park you want to visit has accessible features, search for it on the website and click on “ADA/Accessibility Information” on the right-hand menu. Contact information for the state park is also provided if you want to call and ask about the accessibility features you are interested in.
Preparing for travel by rail or air ensures that your trip is accessible, safe, and enjoyable. According to the U.S. Department of State travel preparation is critical to having a safe and enjoyable experience. If you have questions regarding screening policies, procedures, and/or expectations about security checkpoints, you may contact the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) toll free at (855) 787-2227 prior to traveling. TSA can help travelers with disabilities and medical conditions.
The Department of Transportation (DOT) has instituted regulations to ensure that individuals with disabilities are treated without discrimination. These regulations are part of the Air Carrier Access Act. The act states that carriers cannot impose charges for providing services, equipment, or facilities to individuals with disabilities. For more information about the Air Carrier Access Act, review the New Horizons for the Air Traveler with a Disability at:
To view traveling tips from the U.S. Department of state visit: http://travel.state.gov/travel/
The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation website has information regarding traveling for individuals with disabilities and physical challenges. The website also provides tips from fellow travelers, listed below:
For more information regarding traveling in a wheelchair, visit:
Safe play at home for children with disabilities needs additional consideration. In order for children with disabilities to participate in outdoor play, adults must remove physical barriers and provide diverse opportunities for play as well as encourage exploration and social interactions with peers. In order to promote safety during outdoor play, adult supervision is key
Play is important for the physical, emotional, intellectual, and social development of all children. Playing outdoors provides children a variety of sensory experiences, which could be beneficial for their development. Therefore, outdoor play should be encouraged for all children. However, playing on a farm or ranch could be dangerous, especially when hazards exist such as machinery, tools, and animals. Since children do not always recognize harm or remember rules, it is essential to supervise them regularly as they play. Children’s behavior varies greatly which often also influences their safety.
As adults, it is our responsibility to protect children and remind them of what they can and cannot do. Since children do not fully understand the risk and consequences of injuries, it is also the adult’s responsibility to enforce rules of what behavior is acceptable and unacceptable.
According to the National Children’s Center in Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety (2008), safe play areas for children should be carefully planned and include the following:
For more information visit the National Farm Medicine Program:
According to the National Program for Playground Safety (http://playgroundsafety.org) the ABCs of supervision can provide guidance for developing safe play areas. The ABCs of supervision are:
The following website provides information about adaptive equipment available for purchase to promote play for children with disabilities:
Accessible and inclusive playgrounds for children are hard to find. They are usually located in large metropolitan areas, but with the right community support, accessible and inclusive playgrounds can be built in any community.
PlayCore Inc. is a nonprofit organization that encourages and supports inclusive play by providing communities and professionals a variety of resources and ideas for building inclusive playgrounds. Resources found on their website include best practice principles for inclusive playgrounds, research information, and examples of successful play areas. An inclusive playground design can encourage children’s physical, emotional, cognitive, sensory, and social abilities. Ideally, an inclusive playground should:
For more information regarding inclusive play, visit PlayCore’s website at:
Boundless Playgrounds is another national nonprofit organization, located in Chattanooga, TN, that works with communities to build inclusive playgrounds. The vision of Boundless Playgrounds is not only to provide children with an environment that allows them to grow and learn, but also one that allows them to develop respect and appreciation for all children, including those with disabilities.
If you are interested in building an inclusive playground, Boundless Playgrounds can help. This organization offers free planning guidance as well as support to build playgrounds that meet the needs of everyone who uses it. For more information on Boundless Playgrounds, visit their website at:
In partnership with Boundless Playgrounds, CVS Caremark All Kids Can, offers community grants to nonprofit organizations who serve children including projects for playgrounds and rubber surfacing. For more information about grant opportunities go to: http://cvsallkidscan.com
The North American Guidelines for Children’s Agricultural Tasks (NAGCAT) is a collection of guidelines designed to assist parents in assigning age-appropriate tasks for children who live or work on farms and ranches across North America.
Introducing children to the life, culture, and work of agriculture is an important responsibility of parents and family members. Identifying age-appropriate tasks for children is essential. In order to assign tasks to children, it is important to know and understand how children develop. Having an understanding of child development allows parents/caregivers to comprehend where their child is cognitively and physically. Being aware of cognitive and physical abilities can help choose what type of tasks are appropriate for a child. As caregivers, it is also crucial to recognize the risks associated with farm or ranch tasks.
Outlined below are some key points about children working on farms or ranches:
According to Linda M. Fetzer, Pennsylvania State University
Children with disabilities will also want to participate in family life that involves agriculture. National AgrAbility has developed resources on how children with disabilities can participate in 4-H programs and may give parents some insight in how to adapt chores to be done safely. Just as adaptive equipment, equipment modifications, and assistive technologies are strategies to increase work participation by adults, the same principles can be used in designing solutions for children with disabilities. For more information on adapted 4-H strategies for different childhood disabilities visit: http://www.agrability.org/Resources/youth
Information on starting a disability awareness campaign and service projects for students in FFA can be found on the same web page, including instructional materials for FFA leaders.
Leisure, sports, recreation, and play are important for all human beings (young and old alike). Just because we have not listed your favorite activities does not mean they do not exist—or maybe they just need to be invented. The Internet is a great place to do a search if you like to explore the web, or try contacting a nonprofit organization providing information to individuals with disabilities and inquire about leisure and recreation.