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Sports a Civil Right for the Disabled Says U.S. Government

Julian Finney, Getty Images

The Obama administration will tell schools they must include students with disabilities in sports programs. According to the USA Today, the notice will be sent out today.

The Obama administration for the first time is telling school districts across the USA that they must give disabled students equal access to extracurricular sports, a move that advocates say has been years in the making.

In a letter to schools due out Friday, Acting Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Seth Galanter of the Department of Education says schools should provide “reasonable modifications” to allow disabled students to participate – for instance, providing a deaf track athlete with a flashing light that goes off simultaneously with the starter pistol that others hear.

He said schools don’t have to radically alter games or stop choosing the most qualified athletes for competitive teams. They can look to “allied” or “unified” sports teams, in which students with disabilities participate with students without them. Schools can’t deny a disabled student a slot on a sports team because a coach believes he can’t compete.

Schools that don’t comply risk losing federal funding, but civil rights cases rarely get that far.

No deadline has been given for schools to comply. What do you think about this? Was this something that been needing to happen for a while or is the government tackling a non-issue?

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