Sunday, April 13, 2008

Bill for equal access for athletes with disablities passes in Maryland

Congrats to wheelchair athlete Tatyana McFadden, 18, (pictured above), who was successful in lobbying the Maryland General Assembly to unanimously OK a bill that would mandate that schools provide students with disabilities access to sports programs, according to The Baltimore Sun.

Students with disabilities can create their own teams or ask to be included in sports programs for able-bodied students. The bill, the Fitness and Athletics Equity for Students with Disabilities, will allow schools three years to fully integrate the requirements into their sports programs.

McFadden, 18, who has spina bifida, won two track medals at the Paralympics in Athens, Greece in 2004, and in 2006, the Howard County student sued to be able to share the track with her high school track team.

Her mother, Deborah McFadden, said in The Sun, "We're changing the landscape of opportunity for people with disabilities. Students with disabilities have the right to all activities that are offered in the school system."

Lauren Young, litigation director at the Maryland Disability Law Center, said "the bill 'evens the playing field.' Young anticipates the number of disabled students who participate in athletics will increase."

"Over time, you will start seeing these programs coming online and developing, and that is the goal," Young said. "We're really excited about that."