[blindkid] Community track

Susan Harper sueharper at firstchurchgriswold.org
Fri Apr 9 12:29:49 UTC 2010

     Well one would think that times would change, but there are always some
hold overs.  We had this problem with out son and school sports about 25
years ago.  He had Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus and used crutches.  But he
was awesome at soccer (he used his crutches instead of feet) and had a
runner for him for baseball.  We got his orthopedic doctor to write a letter
stating he was fit to play.  He was denied, with much the excuses, underline
excuses, that you are hearing.  We worked with Office of Civil Right and
they took care of it and he played.  He did lose half the first season, but
he played.  Irregardless of disabilities, children have a need to just be
children.  The coaches and other parents were super supportive, it was the
administration because of liability.  Your son can not be discriminated
against because of his disability.
      Contact your local office of Civil Rights.  You can probably do that
on line now.  For starters just provide the information that they give you
and if that doesn't resolve the issue, then you will have to decide how far
you take this.  Starting with the education is always the best, before the
big guns.  I suspect you intuition is right on.  I just am appalled that
this is still going on, although I shouldn't.  Let us know how this turns
Sue H.

On Thu, Apr 8, 2010 at 11:29 PM, Carly B <barnesraiser at gmail.com> wrote:

> Hi all! I'm an avid reader of this list and I am so impressed with the
> excellent advice and support that's offered here! So I'm coming to you for
> a
> bit of that for our family. We adopted our son Brian two years ago. He has
> albinism and with it, low vision. He is 7 years old and in 1st grade. We
> signed him up for community Track this spring. He had his first practice
> tonight. In an effort to create a comfortable adjustment, I contacted the
> coach (it's a husband/wife team, and I spoke with the wife) and asked her
> if
> I could tell her a little bit about our son. We had a very pleasant,
> hour-long conversation. She has a teaching background, a son with a
> disability, and seemed very understanding, warm, and willing to be
> accomodating. That said, I didn't ask for any "unusual" accomodations, like
> equipment or a one-on-one coach. His needs actually relate more to his
> having been institutionalized for the first five years of his life, and he
> is still playing catch-up in terms of skills like jumping with both feet
> and
> landing with both feet, as well as other coordination skills. I mentioned
> that he has a strong aversion to loud sounds, especially sudden sounds, and
> that he cannot stand the sound of the gun. I said that I want him to
> participate in practices but not in meets, and that in the next year or so
> when he is better able to tolerate the gun then he can start attending
> meets. For now, I just want him to have the peer experience and hopefully
> gain some skill and confidence. She said she thought that was an excellent
> idea.
> Well, when I arrived at practice, the Track Commissioner was there. She
> came
> over and greeted me, and then proceeded to explain to me that she is quite
> concerned about Brian's safety and the safety of the other players. She
> mentioned this at least three times in the course of our 45-minute
> conversation. I was shocked... will I ever stop being shocked? She also
> said
> that the "Board" has a policy on the website (implying strongly that I
> should have known about it and read it ahead of time) that requires any
> child with special needs must have a written request for accomodations.
> (She
> had a copy with her. It's dated December, 1998) It states that the request
> must be made in writing, it must include "the child's name, parent's names,
> the sport, diagnosis and its affect on the child's ability to participate
> in
> the sport, as well as the type of acommodation requested" and must be
> submitted to the Board, and that "No request for accommodation will be
> considered if these procedures are not followed." In other words, my
> calling
> the coach to discuss Brian ahead of time was woefully insufficient. The
> policy also states: "Reasonable accomodations are actions, which can be
> taken that will not place undue hardship on the association and its
> members.
> No accommodation will be granted which will expose any participant to an
> undue risk of harm." As far as I could determine, this policy has not been
> updated since 1998. (I should add that I'm pretty certain that the
> Commissioner involved herself when the coach contacted her to ask about
> whether there was any other signal they could use other than the gun. This
> was a suggestion the coach made to me in our conversation, not the other
> way
> around, and I specifically said this probably wasn't fair to ask for and
> something I wouldn't expect. I think she was bending over backwards to
> accomodate us, and asked the Commissioner about it on our behalf... hence
> the visit to practice tonight.)
> The Commissioner mentioned that "special needs" are her "area" but when I
> asked for specifics, she said she is an elementary school paraprofessional
> working with kids who have autism, ADHD, EBD and the like but has never
> worked with a blind or low vision child before. I tried to take this as an
> opportunity to educate, but it was not easy. She was the most ignorant and
> resistant person I've come into contact with to date. In the course of our
> conversation, she stressed that her coaches are all volunteers and that it
> was very unfair to think that they should accomodate Brian in any way. She
> added that many of them would probably quit if a child like Brian were to
> enroll on their team. She admitted, however, that Brian's coach didn't
> complain about anything I had told her about Brian and did not seem unduly
> concerned. I told her that it was never my intention to drop and go, and
> that I would be doing much of the accomodating myself. (I had said this to
> the coach in our earlier conversation.) Toward the end of our conversation,
> she added that she is also very concerned about how other parents will feel
> when they see Brian in Track. Then she said, "You know what I mean, I'm
> sure." I said, "Actually, I really haven't met anyone who has been
> concerned
> about Brian in that way." She seemed very fixated on the idea that Brian's
> presence creates some kind of grave danger for everyone involved.
> I am wondering specifically if ADA or IDEA address what in my opinion is a
> draconian policy, and whether this organization falls under the umbrella of
> either. It's a community sports organization which as far as I can tell,
> doesn't receive any funding from the school district, but does use the
> public school facilities. I'm not thinking about bringing legal action, but
> I like to know what the law provides, more as an opportunity to educate,
> not
> to bully.
> Thanks in advance for any thoughts. God bless! --Carolynn Barnes
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