The Rights of Americans With Disabilities To Exercise

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The Rights of People With Disabilities to Exercise

  • The Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) established a right for people with disabilities to have the opportunity to participate in all facets of society;
  • Thirty years after this civil rights achievement legally ended much disability-based discrimination, people with disabilities – including children – continue to face insurmountable barriers to equal participation in exercise and athletics;
  • Most federal, state, and private health plans do not cover the assistive technologies and habilitation services needed for participation in sports, making them available only to elite athletes, the wealthy, or as charitable gifts;
  • People with disabilities should not be forced to rely on charity to realize the benefits of exercise, but deserve the equal opportunity to participate that is at the heart of the ADA.

We, the undersigned, urge the President; Congress; the Department of Health and Human Services; Insurance Commissioners; healthcare providers; federal, industry, state, and local officials; and other members of society to:

  • Formally acknowledge that exercise is vital to the physical and mental well-being of all people, and commit to eliminating the barriers that deny Americans with disabilities the right to equally participate in athletics;
  • Act to ensure affordable access to assistive technology and habilitation services needed for athletics including, but not limited to, wheelchairs, prostheses, and orthoses, by:
    • Recognizing exercise as an activity of daily living (ADL)
    • Modifying standards to classify assistive technology and habilitation services needed for athletics as medically necessary*
    • Taking other appropriate actions enabling equal participation in exercise and athletics for people with disabilities

*Standards including, but not limited to, Essential Health Benefits (EHBs) and Local Coverage Determinations (LCDs)

To learn more, visit Forrest Stump at www.ForrestStump.org