Wisconsin athletics ahead of curve with disability guidelines - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Wisconsin athletics ahead of curve with disability guidelines

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WAUSAU (WAOW) -

Since 1985 the state of Wisconsin has made it mandatory that every athlete gets a chance to play sports.

"We've been working with our schools to provide opportunities for athletes with disabilities for many years," WIAA Director of Communications Todd Clark said.

Now, the U.S. Education Department is trying to mainstream those same rules throughout the country.

"States don't have the language like WI does as far as non-discrimination for disabled student athletes," Clark explained.

The federal group is requiring every state to make modifications for students with disabilities, or create similar athletic programs. That's something Wausau West Athletic Director Dan Hein says, they already do.

"We just make adjustments," Hein explained. "We do that with every student in general. There's no way we wouldn't not want anyone involved."

Hein says, right now, between 50 and 60 disabled athletes take part in various sports programs throughout the high school.

"That's why we have sports, it's for everybody," Hein said. 

And at the state level it's the same story. The WIAA says it's been offering track and field events for the disabled for many years. For example, a wheelchair race at last springs state track meet. They say more events could be on the way.

"If there's enough interest in another sport the WIAA will consider taking that sport and incorporating it into the state tournament," Clark said.

There is no deadline for schools to comply with this new initiative. But, here in Wisconsin, leaders say it's about time everyone is treated equal.

For more information on these federal guidelines, click here: http://www.un.org/disabilities/convention/convention.shtml

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