U.S. Education Dept. wants disabled students to play more sports - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

U.S. Education Dept. wants disabled students to play more sports

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(01/25/13) - The U.S. Department of Education says students with disabilities must be given the chance to compete in traditional sports. The federal agency says school officials will have to make reasonable efforts to accommodate them.

We've seen inspiring videos featuring those with disabilities who refused to be kept on the sidelines. Now the Education Department says schools must work harder to give those students a fair shot at making the team.

"Oh, this is landmark for people with disabilities. It's probably similar to what Title 9 was for women in terms of athletics at high school and college levels. As a person with a disability, my hearts says, 'Right on! Give these people an opportunity,'" said Duncan Beagle, Genesee County Circuit Judge, who uses a wheelchair.

Michael Zelley of the Disability Network loves the idea of focusing on inclusion. He says it's about letting people have access.

Kearsley High School's athletic director agrees.

"High school sports is a great opportunity for a lot of kids and we definitely want as many kids to experience it as possible," Paul Gaudard said.

While there could be costs associated with the change over, the Department of Education says they don't necessarily have to be expensive. Take starting a race at a track meet for example.

"If we were able to put some kind of a light mechanism in place, so a red light flashed when the gun went off. Now students are able to compete at the same level," Gaudard said.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan says all students should benefit from life lessons they can learn in the athletic arena.

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