Technical Assistance

BlazeSports Technical Assistance and Training Offerings

BlazeSports America was one of ten national organizations funded by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) from 2010-2012 to provide technical assistance to Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW) funded communities. BlazeSports created an innovative community-based program model that incorporates sport and physical activity into the daily life of youth with physical disabilities and visual impairment, as well as providing opportunities for sport competition from recreational to high-performance events. The model is now a permanent fixture in many communities in Georgia and across the country. Through its Washington office, BlazeSports develops and advocates for policies that advance inclusion, services, and funding related to physical activity and healthy lifestyles for persons with disability.  Read more»

Facilities Access: Recommendations and Checklists

Sports and recreation facilities in communities and schools must be accessible to people with disabilities and include both architectural and programmatic access. Policies also must be reviewed to eliminate discriminatory practices resulting in barriers to access and participation.

A useful tool in identifying and eliminating architectural barriers is the Accessibility Checklist. This checklist will help you identify accessibility problems and solutions in existing facilities in order to meet your obligations under the ADA.


Sports Manuals and Training Guides

BlazeSports Active for Life Guide

Sports Rules and Regulations

Sports Manuals

Coaching Videos


Program Building

Community/School Assessment

After defining the need in the community and deciding the purpose of the program, assess the resources available within the community that might support the program.  Read more»

Options in Sport and Recreation

Determining which sports and recreation programs are best suited for a community program requires a close examination of current resources, followed by a sport/recreation specific resource evaluation. In this section you will find a brief explanation of the most popular sports and recreation programs being offered throughout the United States.

Programming choices may include both a recreational and a competitive version of the same sport. Many programs begin with recreation programs and progress into competitive opportunities as the number of participants increase and their interest in competition develops.  Read more»

Top 10 Ways to Improve Access

10. Research Existing Programs


There are many outstanding programs and facilities in this country – too many to list in this presentation. Our intent is to introduce you to a variety of facilities representing cross-section of the fitness community.  We have found that most facilities are eager to share information on equipment, provide site visits, and assist other communities in their research.  Read more»


BlazeSports America is available to assist communities and the public with ensuring that active, healthy living policies and programs include persons with physical disabilities. BlazeSports provides technical assistance, training and resource information through on-site presentations, online webinars, educational videos, and resource materials.  BlazeSports experts are also available to respond to technical assistance inquiries.

BlazeSports experts regularly speak on:

  • Understanding your obligations as well as the benefits of including people with disabilities in active, healthy living initiatives.
  • Overview of BlazeSports’ technical assistance and training resources such as Webinar series, BlazeSports community programs toolkit, Online video resource library, Disability Sport Specialist/Technician Certification Program, and On-demand technical assistance service.
  • Training for front line professionals working in physical activity, sports and fitness: considerations for participants with disabilities.
  • Including students with disabilities in school-based physical activity, sports and PE policies and programs

Technical assistance activities to support communities with policy development and implementation as part of the CPPW project might include:

  • Review of draft policies to ensure they are inclusive of persons with disabilities
  • Identification of accessibility audit tools for healthy eating, recreation, fitness and sports facilities
  • Ongoing technical assistance as needed

For more information about BlazeSports training and technical assistance re policy and advocacy offerings, please contact Ann Cody, Director of Policy, or call 202-312-7419.

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Funding: Identify potential sources of program funding; i.e. local civic groups, business groups, corporate foundations, private foundations, individuals, community grants, etc.

Population: Know the population so your programs are appropriate for all participants. What disabilities are most common among the population you will be serving? Most programs offer activities for youth and adult participants with spinal injuries, amputees, cerebral palsy, spina bifida and visually impairments. Consider the target age groups? Is there transportation in the area or obvious financial issues? Consider ethnicity and language of target audience?

When assessing the numbers and ages of possible participants, contact local rehabilitation hospitals, pediatric groups, durable medical equipment companies, prosthetic companies, school systems, Veterans Administration Centers and other organizations that provide services to people with physical disabilities.

The Programs: Choose the sport and recreation activities with which to start the program. After reviewing the potential sport recreation options, determine the interest level of your participants, the resources needed, and the feasibility of offering these opportunities. The US Census can also provide demographics by large city, and county at state levels.

Many local programs across the country currently offer instruction and competition in a variety of Paralympic sports (Examples: boccia, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby, wheelchair tennis, track and field, swimming, sledge hockey, goalball, sitting volleyball, fencing, and cycling). Additionally, there are other non-Paralympic sports that are very active within local programs. These sports are selected based on their adaptability, level of interest and development on the national and international level.

Consider whether to offer different programs for adults and/or youth; beginner, intermediate and/or advanced classes. Anticipating these questions when selecting the activities to offer will assist in better reaching potential participants. Consider other local and regional programs with which establish a relationship. Programs often have difficulty retaining participants when there are only practices to attend. Regular seasonal competition at the proper level can make all the difference when it comes to athlete retention.

Facilities: What facilities will be used for the program? Many programs will have “in-house” facilities to use. When considering facilities for the programs, be observant of accessibility issues (i.e. width of entrances, ramps, bathroom size, etc.), space, storage options, and availability of the facility during the different seasons and at reasonable times of day. Are storage facilities available for the equipment?

When you have access to an outside facility, maintain good communication with personnel and call on a regular basis prior to using the facility to confirm practice time and specifics of facility usage.

Staff Expertise: Determine if qualified staff is available to help coach different programs. Many programs have difficulty finding staff that is knowledgeable in the different sports or willing to volunteer to coach. Ensure that staff is in place before promoting or launching programs. University physical therapy and therapeutic recreation programs, local park and recreation departments, and rehabilitation hospitals are good sources for coaches and assistants in all sports. Additionally, a good method for locating quality coaches is to identify individuals who have a background in coaching the able-bodied version of the sport and are willing to learn the nuances of coaching athletes with disabilities.

Schedules: Regularly scheduled weekly sports training sessions are the foundation of good programs. Establish dates and times for practices. Be aware of the specific sports seasons so that the program may be eligible to receive support, linking programs with camps, clinics and competitions from surrounding programs and other national governing bodies.

Equipment: Take an inventory of the different sports equipment available throughout the community. Check with wheelchair or medical equipment companies, rehabilitation hospitals, adult athletes within the community, and any other disability organizations within the community. Introductory programs for most sports can be started without having ample sports specific wheelchairs. Having as many as possible on hand will enhance a program, but continually building on the supply will allow the equipment grow with the program.

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Sport and Recreation Options

For brief descriptions of various sports and recreation activities that are currently being enjoyed by people with disabilities, click here.

For more detailed information on each of these sports, refer to the US Paralympic and International Paralympic Committee (IPC) websites.

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9. Accessories


There are a number of small inexpensive items that can help individuals with disabilities successfully participate in fitness activities. Activity mitts and wrist cuffs assist participants that have upper extremity and grip difficulties in using both cardio and strength training equipment.


8. Treadmills


The first thing most people do when they start a treadmill workout is increase the speed. The lowest setting on the average treadmill is 1.5 miles per hour, relatively slow for the average treadmill user.  However, for individuals with physical disabilities 1.5 miles per hour is often too fast. Given the number of treadmills in most fitness facilities, fitness center operators should consider one or two treadmills that start at a slower rate of .5 mph or less.


7. Recumbent Bikes


Recumbent Bikes offer a user-friendly cardio-vascular workout to seniors, individuals with disabilities and other patrons that just do not care for the traditional upright stationary bike.  Recumbent bikes are lower to the floor, which facilitates easier transfers. They have wider seats and often have hand bars to hold on to for increased stability.


6. Ergometers


Ergometers or Upper Body Ergometers (UBE) are the main source of cardiovascular workouts for individual with lower extremity impairments. Ergometers come in a variety of sizes and with a number of different functions. The benefit of having ergometers in a fitness facility is that they are user-friendly to all populations.  Seniors, patrons with ankle or knee injuries and individuals with disabilities all benefit from access to a good UBE.


5. Weight Equipment


Similar to ergometers, there are too many accessible weight lifting machines to cover in one presentation. The key issue with respect to weight equipment is that there are several companies that manufacture commercial style weight machines that are user-friendly and that accommodate both ambulatory participants and participants using wheelchairs.  Information on equipment manufactures is provided to assist staff in making the best choice for your facility.






4. Floor Spacing


The newly released ADA regulations include specific information on floor spacing, accessible routes, and placement of fitness equipment.  Although ADA standards concentrate on curb cuts, entry ways and locker room facilities, true accessibility is the ease with which individuals with disabilities can access the fitness equipment in a given fitness center. Several resources are provided to assist facility operators in maximizing floor spacing.


3. Staff Training


Information is provided on staff training including certification programs and publications.  A number of books, websites, and training videos are listed and provide useful content for staff training and in-services.


2. Accessibility Assessments


Whether you are involved in the development of a brand new building or the ongoing programming in an existing building, accessibility assessments can be very helpful tools in improving more than just architectural barriers. Information is provided on several self-administered assessment tools that can be useful to a program interested in a comprehensive facility review.


1. BlazeSports America


BlazeSports America’s team of experts is ready to assist you and your organization or community with providing sport, recreation and physical activity opportunities for people with physical disability in sport comparable to those provided non-disabled, nationally and internationally. BlazeSports America experts have seen that through partnership, we can foster character development, productive lives, healthy lifestyles, and self-sufficiency in people with physical disability through sport. We are your resource for accessing cutting-edge training, distance learning opportunities, and fresh ideas as a vehicle to build the capacity of local service providers.

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