Be a Better Person

Written by John Kinsella

The PADI Adaptive Techniques Specialty program really just makes a good thing better. It builds on the foundational traits of inclusiveness and adaptability, common to all PADI Instructors, Assistant Instructors and Divemasters. It has detailed insights into considerations and techniques that apply specifically when training and guiding divers with disabilities and generally when working with any diver.

The PADI Adaptive Techniques Specialty helps PADI Pros become more aware and mindful of individual considerations when introducing people with disabilities to diving. It covers adaptive techniques that apply while supervising and training divers with disabilities in PADI courses and programs. It teaches how to properly counsel and direct student divers, based on their abilities, toward certification, experience programs, or toward a disabilities-dedicated diving organisation for limited certification options.

I believe this course will get PADI Members thinking outside the box when it comes to skills and get them looking at different ways to teach skills” says Fraser Bathgate, Advisor Adaptive Techniques PADI Worldwide. “Teaching divers with disabilities is a very enabling and rewarding experience and it will help open up a new client base to divemasters, instructors, dive centres and resorts. It kick starts a new way for PADI Members to fulfill more people’s dreams.”

The Adaptive Techniques Specialty course helps PADI Pros learn additional techniques to motivate and encourage not just divers with mental or physical challenges, but all divers. There’s also an associated subcourse, the PADI Adaptive Support Diver, which helps interested divers, from Open Water Diver on up, learn how to be better buddies to divers with physical or mental challenges.

The course looks at techniques that will help PADI Pros build confidence in their divers through a holistic approach that focuses on improving self image, building trust, setting goals, managing stress and having fun while solving problems. It emphasizes bringing the diver personally into the solution and looks at specific equipment adaptations and helpful confined and open water considerations.

Confined water workshops let dive pros demonstrate and practice skills to assist divers with disabilities, both in training and non-training situations. They build confidence before the open water workshops where dive pros apply the skills learned with an emphasis on assisting divers in/out of water, trim and comfort in the first workshop, and through scenario-based skills practice in the second.

But the real value of the PADI Adaptive Techniques Specialty must be that, in some small way, it’s the distilled essence of the skill, experience and goodwill of an international advisory team who has collectively brought diving to thousands of people with disabilities and witnessed first hand the powerful and often life changing results. Now that experience and good will is ready to spread. Find out how you can help by contacting your PADI Regional Manager.

New PADI Adaptive Techniques Specialty

PADI® Professionals have a long and successful history of adapting training to meet individual needs. This includes accepting people with physical and mental challenges into courses and creatively finding techniques that allow them to master skills and meet course performance requirements.

The new PADI Adaptive Techniques Specialty course is designed to build on that foundation by broadening awareness and further exploring adaptive techniques. This specialty course is unique in that it’s designed for PADI Divemasters or Master Freedivers and higher.

The course consists of one knowledge development session that introduces the concept of holistic teaching and explores equipment and logistical considerations. It also includes a workshop that helps you look at dive centre accessibility from the perspective of people with various disabilities.

There are two confined water workshops that focus on transfers, entries, exits, assists and communication, along with demonstrating, adapting and practicing skills based on a student diver’s abilities and limitations. The two open water workshops focus on evaluating accessibility, organizing and pacing dives, and adapting skills to the open water environment.

When training people with physical and mental challenges, you learn to focus on what they can do rather than on what they can’t. You don’t have to take this specialty to work with divers with disabilities, but the knowledge and skills you gain can help you adapt course content to accommodate virtually any student diver. This specialty course will expand your ability to be student-centered and prescriptive in approach when adapting scuba or freediving techniques.

Adaptive Techniques Specialty Course Goals

To help PADI Pros:

  • Become more aware and mindful of individual considerations when introducing people with disabilities to diving or freediving.
  • Learn new adaptive techniques to use while supervising and training divers/freedivers with disabilities in PADI courses and programs.
  • Properly counsel and direct student divers, based on their abilities, toward PADI certification, PADI experience programs or toward a disabilities-dedicated diving organization.
  • Explore additional ways to motivate and encourage student divers with mental and/or physical challenges.

PADI Adaptive Support Diver

The subset course, PADI Adaptive Support Diver, is for divers who want to learn how to best support dive buddies who have a physical or mental disability. The course consists of the same knowledge development session as the full specialty, but only requires completion of one confined water workshop and one open water workshop. The prerequisites are PADI Open Water Diver or PADI Freediver™ (or higher), EFR®Primary and Secondary Care course completion within 24 months and to be at least 15 years old. Completion of the PADI Peak Performance Buoyancy is recommended beforehand to give the diver firsthand awareness of proper trim.

Because the PADI Adaptive Support Diver course is a standardized specialty, divers can credit an Adventure Dive toward Advanced Open Water Diver certification, and can also credit the specialty toward PADI Master Scuba Diver™.

Becoming an Adaptive Techniques Specialty Instructor

To be authorized to teach the PADI Adaptive Techniques Specialty course and subcourse, PADI Instructors and PADI Freediver Instructors have the usual two application paths:

  1. Complete a PADI Specialty Instructor Training Course with a PADI Course Director, or PADI Freediver Instructor Trainer who is authorized as a PADI Adaptive Techniques Specialty Instructor Trainer.
  2. Apply directly to your PADI Regional Headquarters with proof of additional experience and training.

The PADI Adaptive Techniques Specialty Instructor Guide is used to support the course. Although the guide primarily addresses scuba diving, PADI Freediver Instructors who are Adaptive Techniques Specialty Instructors will find the guide inclusive of freedivers, with reminder notes about cross-referencing the PADI Freediver Program Instructor Guide.

The course launched at the 2017 DEMA Show in Orlando, Florida, USA, and is currently only available in English. For more information, contact your PADI Regional Training Consultant or go to the PADI Pros’ Site under Training Essentials for further resources about training divers with disabilities.