Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Handicapped Scuba Association

The HSA is focused on helping handicapped divers to enjoy scuba. One way to deal with all the disabled people in society would be to line them up along the river and dump them in. And apparently they love it! (Provided we fit them with scuba equipment first.)

Like all good organizations, there are multiple levels. "Normal" divers are trained to handle special needs and are classed by how much they've learned. In some cases, a handicap on land is no handicap at all in the water. In other cases, two trained HSA diving assistants tend every need of a handicapped (e.g. quadriplegic) diver.

Last week I went diving with a German man named Honas. He is a polio victim and on land he needs two crutches to slowly move himself along. Underwater, however, Honas has no handicap. Instead of fins on his feet, he uses gloves with webbed fingers and swims with his arms. And believe it or not, he can get up to quite a pace! While enjoying a recreational dive, he actually moved along more quickly than I would on my own.

Honas can't walk with scuba gear on his back. So like many divers he enters the water then dons his gear; doffing it before he exits again. The only help he required was getting the equipment up and down the stairs from the dock.

Now that I've been diving with Honas I understand the full extent of his diving handicap. He can't get an off-the-rack wetsuit to fit. The size differences between his legs, for example, are such that no wetsuit will keep him as warm or protected as a custom fit would. But other than that, I just couldn't see any disability or handicap. At least not once underwater!

Where else can a challenging adventure sport bring so many different people together, and make them all equals?


J. D. said...

Morgan...That was really interesting! I bet it felt good, too, to help a person that couldn't dive on their own. Good job.......Mom

Minka said...

Horse back riding!
truly...we now started a treatment for little austistic children her ein Iceland.

They seem so not in tune with our world, inhabitign their own displayed in tehir far-off glances, more often than not, when you put them on horseback, they come for a visit into this world and engage with the horse in almost a telepathic way. I still have to see an autistic child fall off the horse. Last week I saw a German who has trianed for three years, fall off an Icelandic horse!

I love this post Morgan, it is beautiful, caring and I just love how you can see those little wonders in everyday life. Here´s to Honas for not letting his disability rule his life and here´s to you...for seeing the diver in a man that can´t move ashore!