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Friday, January 25, 2013

U.S. Says School Sports Are A Civil Right For Disabled

Wheelchair athlete Tatyana McFadden, front, races in her first track meet along side able-bodied high school runners in April 2006 in Rockville, Md. Tatyana McFadden, then a sophomore at Atholton High School, sued the county school system in federal court in Baltimore for the right to race at the same time as able-bodied athletes. She had been forced to compete in separate wheelchair events, usually by herself. (Chris Gardner/AP)

Wheelchair athlete Tatyana McFadden, front, races in her first high school track meet alongside able-bodied runners in April 2006 in Rockville, Md. McFadden sued the county school system in federal court in Baltimore for the right to race at the same time as able-bodied athletes. She had been forced to compete in separate wheelchair events, usually by herself. (Chris Gardner/AP)

The U.S. Education Department is telling schools that they must make “reasonable modifications” to accommodate students with disabilities on sports teams, or create a parallel athletic program.

The directive is the biggest change since Title IX mandated equal athletic opportunities for women, and it comes after years of work by a coalition of athletes and advocates.

But it started with a young wheelchair athlete from Maryland, Tatyana McFadden, who was born with spina bifida and is paralyzed from the waist down.

When McFadden was 15, she won a silver medal in the 100-meter and a bronze in the 200-meter in the 2004 Paralympics.

But it wasn’t until she won a lawsuit later that she was allowed to race on her high school track team.

  • What do you think about the directive to accommodate disabled student athletes? Let us know in the comments or join the debate on our Facebook page.

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  • Eliwolff10

    Great day!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003000884786 Navin R Johnson

    How about we focus our efforts on improving education first, then worry about superfluous activities when we get that accomplished.

Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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