Scuba Diving is a very popular recreational activity for persons with disabilities all across the world, especially in our beautiful waters & climate of South Africa. If you are Blind or have a visual Impairment you can still try Scuba Diving. The Handicapped Scuba Association promotes scuba diving around the world. They cater for a wide variety of persons with disabilities, including the blind or Visually Impaired. Each year they also plan scuba trips to exotic locations led by specially trained scuba divers and individuals who are wheelchair users so that you are ensured a safe and comfortable scuba experience.
The HSA was founded in 1981 by Jim Gatacre and is now the world’s leading authority on recreational diving for persons with disabilities. The HSA had its’ genesis in 1975 at the University of California-Irvine (UCI) as a research pilot program. The program looked at self-image changes for scuba diving students 'with disabilities' learning together with students 'without disabilities'. "The results were amazing! Everyone, with and without disabilities, grew in ways we could not measure and went on to more full and exciting lives." Gatacre, who had sustained an injury in 1972 that left his right arm disabled, was the prime motivation for the program. Learning to Scuba dive had such a powerful rehabilitative effect on Gatacre, that he wanted to share it with others. In 1981 he realized his dream and founded the Handicapped Scuba Association.
"The HSA has it's headquarters in California, but extends its underwater educational programs worldwide. The Handicapped Scuba Association has dedicated itself to improving the physical and social well-being of people with disabilities through the sport of scuba diving.
- To improve the health and fitness of people with disabilities by challenging their physical abilities and endurance;
- To improve the quality of life of people with disabilities by providing opportunities to actively participate in a mainstream sport;
- To "level the playing field" between people with disabilities and their able bodied peers by facilitating access to a sport that they, and others, thought was not possible; To motivate people with disabilities into pursuing other life challenges (education, employment, travel, sports) by allowing them to achieve at a sport that many people cannot;
- To profile the abilities and potential of people with disabilities to mainstream society.
Made up of over 4000 underwater educators, scuba divers with disabilities and supporting members are located in over 45 countries, the Handicapped Scuba Association is dedicated to assuring that people with disabilities are given the same opportunity to receive quality training, certification and dive adventures as the able bodied population.
Services We Offer
The Handicapped Scuba Association operates as an independent diver training and certifying agency. "Our prestigious diver education programs and Instructor Training Course (ITC) are internationally recognized and unequaled by any other programs in the industry. Additionally we provide a variety of support services, such as Resort Evaluations and Accessible Dive Vacations. Our training materials have been translated into 10 languages, & the HSA has brought the FIRST recreational activity of any kind for people with disabilities to countries such as the Ukraine.
Handicapped Scuba Association S.A (HSASA)
Scuba Diving for the Disabled in South Africa is run by The Handicapped Scuba Association S.A (HSASA). This Association exists to give the disabled in South Africa, the opportunity to take part in a recreational sport like scuba diving, they work with people with a variety of disabilities including those with Visual Impairments and the blind.
- Have equal status to able-bodies & are no different to any other person, as they too have the same desires and aspirations that able-bodies have.
- Are normal people who get the same things done as able-bodies do, but who just use different means to get it the job done.
- Have the right to existence, to live a normal life and to enjoy their lives to the full.
- Have the right to participate in the same normal activities, as what able-bodies do.
- Specifically have the right to participate in a recreational sport, such as scuba diving.
If you can breathe, you can dive. We do not see the limitations of disabled people, but rather see their capabilities and believe in developing these, so that they can live a more meaningful life.
Through these beliefs, HSASA is dedicated to improve the physical and social well-being of people living with disabilities, thus changing their lives completely through offering them courses in the recreational sport of scuba diving. They are also committed to making sure that disabled people are given the same opportunity to receive excellent quality training, certification and dive adventures, as the able-bodied population does.
Through the assistance of specially trained instructors and dive buddies, they give persons with disability the opportunity to experience the underwater world and see the nature. They are taught the skills, that are required to scuba dive and through the financial assistance of their sponsors and by holding fundraising events, they are able to train less fortunate persons with disability and take them on scuba diving trips, to dive in the sea.
There are a variety of accessible dive sites in and around South Africa, such as The Miracle Waters scuba diving site , which has become much more wheelchair accessible, thanks to wheelchair accessible paths, a wheelchair accessible toilet, sink & shower. The site is used by Handicapped Scuba Association and visually impaired diver Francois Neeting diving, with sighted diver Braam Le Roux assisting South Africans with disabilities in participating in scuba diving, through training them, partnering them with dive buddies and providing opportunities to do open water diving.
Guinjata Dive Centre in Mozambique is another site that is accessible and is the only dive centre in Mozambique offering this service and having a tradition in it.