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Equal Opportunity to Students with Disabilities to Participate in Extracurricular Athletics

Published: 2013-01-29 - Updated: 2021-12-23
Author: U.S. Department of Education | Contact: ed.gov
Peer-Reviewed Publication: N/A
Additional References: Disability Sports Information Publications

Synopsis: U.S. Office for Civil Rights guidance clarifying school districts existing legal obligations to provide equal access to extracurricular athletic activities to students with disabilities. The mission of the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is to ensure equal access to education and to promote educational excellence throughout the nation through the vigorous enforcement of civil rights. The guidance letter provides examples of the types of reasonable modifications that schools may be required to make to existing policies, practices, or procedures for students with intellectual, developmental, physical, or any other type of disability.

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The Department's Office for Civil Rights issued guidance clarifying school districts' existing legal obligations to provide equal access to extracurricular athletic activities to students with disabilities. In addition to explaining those legal obligations, the guidance urges school districts to work with community organizations to increase athletic opportunities for students with disabilities, such as opportunities outside of the existing extracurricular athletic program.

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The mission of the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is to ensure equal access to education and to promote educational excellence throughout the nation through the vigorous enforcement of civil rights. Among the federal civil rights laws OCR is responsible for enforcing are:

Students with disabilities have the right, under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, to an equal opportunity to participate in their schools' extracurricular activities. A 2010 report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office found that many students with disabilities are not afforded an equal opportunity to participate in athletics, and therefore may not have equitable access to the health and social benefits of athletic participation.

"Sports can provide invaluable lessons in discipline, selflessness, passion and courage, and this guidance will help schools ensure that students with disabilities have an equal opportunity to benefit from the life lessons they can learn on the playing field or on the court," said Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

The guidance letter provides examples of the types of reasonable modifications that schools may be required to make to existing policies, practices, or procedures for students with intellectual, developmental, physical, or any other type of disability. Examples of such modifications include:

"Participation in extracurricular athletics can be a critical part of a student's overall educational experience, said Seth Galanter, acting assistant secretary for the Office for Civil Rights (OCR). "Schools must ensure equal access to that rewarding experience for students with disabilities."

Reference Source(s):

Equal Opportunity to Students with Disabilities to Participate in Extracurricular Athletics | U.S. Department of Education (ed.gov). Disabled World makes no warranties or representations in connection therewith. Content may have been edited for style, clarity or length.

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Cite This Page (APA): U.S. Department of Education. (2013, January 29). Equal Opportunity to Students with Disabilities to Participate in Extracurricular Athletics. Disabled World. Retrieved December 2, 2022 from www.disabled-world.com/sports/equal-op.php

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