The Need for Accessible Golf

Do you know that there are over 50 million people with disabilities in the USA? That is just under 20% of our total population.  Do you know that people with disabilities enjoy playing golf just as do people without disabilities?  Do you know that there are programs, instruction and equipment that allow people with disabilities to play golf?

It has been a long road for people with disabilities to gain access not only to golf, but to the very basic services in a community that people without disabilities take for granted.  Things like employment, housing, and access to medical and rehabilitation treatment has not always been readily available to those with disabilities. However, all of that is changing and the focus in our society has moved from isolation of people with disabilities to full inclusion into the fabric of our society.

The 1990 American’s with Disabilities Act has provided the impetus for individuals with disabilities to benefit from all parts of our society, including the game of golf.  There are national, state and local organizations that have provided the opportunity for people with disabilities to play golf.  Organizations such as Special Olympics and the National Amputee Golf Association are just two national organizations that for many years have been encouraging and providing programs for disability specific individuals.  Medical oriented facilities such as the Sister Kenney Rehabilitation Institute in Minnesota (http://www.allina.com/ahs/ski.nsf/), the Edwin Shaw Challenge Golf Program in Ohio (http://www.akrongeneral.org), and the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children in Dallas http://www.tsrhc.org are examples of rehabilitation focused programs and local organizations such as Fore Hope, Columbus, Ohio http://www.forehope.org/  and RevelationGolf, Elk Grove, Illinois are examples of community based programs providing golf for people with disabilities.  These are just a few examples.  Similar programs may be found in every part of the country.

Yet it remains that access to golf for people with disabilities remains limited.  Many community based golf programs do not reach out to people with disabilities to include them in their ongoing public golf programs.

In 1993, Indiana University and Clemson University recognized the need to promote and encourage both the Golf and Rehabilitation industries to come together to advance the cause of accessible golf.  As a result of 6 National Forums on Accessible Golf between, 1993 and 2001 (attended by golf and rehabilitation Industry leaders, along with governmental officials, university representatives and individuals with disabilities) the National Alliance for Accessible Golf (www.accessgolf.org) was created.

The National Alliance for Accessible Golf (Alliance) is an organization working to ensure the opportunity for all individuals with disabilities to play the game of golf. Formed in the summer of 2001, the Alliance is represented by major golf organizations in the United States, organizations that provide services for people with disabilities and others who advocate for the inclusion of people with disabilities into society.

The mission of the Alliance is to increase participation of people with disabilities in the game of golf. Through the game of golf, individuals with disabilities become actively engaged in the social fabric of a community, and derive health benefits that improve quality of life. The Alliance asserts that all individuals are entitled to play the game of golf regardless of their ability, socio-economic condition or experience. Information about the benefits of golf for persons with disabilities and the golf industry must be constantly shared with the media, public, health, rehabilitation, recreation and golf professionals.

About National Alliance for Accessible Golf
The National Alliance for Accessible Golf is a coalition of recreational, therapeutic, and golf organizations committed to the inclusion of people with disabilities through the game of golf.

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