Divepath.com—Scuba Instructor Certification for people with Special needs and Disability’s at Camp Bay Beach Dive & Adventure Resort
Photo courtesy Divepath.com

I’ve been teaching and training divers from all over the world and the scuba instruction I enjoy teaching the most is a course for special needs, people with disabilities and the scuba instructor course. Both offer many challenges both physical and emotional. When one thinks about scuba diving, you think about all of the wonderful things to see underwater. Weeks and days before a trip there are many things to think about  including checking all the gear and planning the dives.  Now, imagine if you are a person diving who has disabilities and special needs. That’s what this post is all about.

Divepath.com—Teaching a blind student at Camp Bay Beach Dive & Adventure Resort Photo courtesy Divepath.com

The first picture is Grace, a blind female who always wanted to learn to scuba dive. She was referred to me by an able bodied  friend who felt Grace would be safe with me. Now this course took a bit longer, not because Grace wasn’t smart and didn’t understand the material, but because we had to spend a large amount of time on touch hand signs for everything underwater. We were able to talk on land and on the boat; but once underwater our communication was all by underwater hand touch signals. The way she responded was so heart warming and rewarding for me. Two weeks into our class she became a certified diver.  Now you ask how does she dive? Grace can only dive with a certified diver who is also specially trained as a dive buddy.

Paralyzed student learning to scuba dive at Camp Bay Beach Dive & Adventure Resort / Photo courtesy Divepath.com

My second student was paralyzed  from the waist down and could only use his arms. The day he came to me, he had a big smile on his face like he knew something I didn’t and it touched me deeply.

As I wheeled him down the dock, the look on the faces from the other divers was troubling to me.  Once on the boat we listened to a dive briefing and then we went to our spot on the boat and had our own briefing on how we would exit, enter the boat and review the emergency procedures with the crew.  There are different procedures for people with different disabilities. Once all the divers went into the water it was our turn. After we entered the water and did our surface check I noticed that the other divers were not deep into their dive so I gave my diver the hand sign to submerge and we descended as all of the other divers watched. During our dive we saw lots of good stuff underwater and had an amazing time. When it was time to ascend we were the last  to do our safety stop before we could go to the surface. Now on the surface the crew was ready to help my diver exit the water. As we came on board the boat everyone gave us a standing ovation.  My student  looked at me and said are you okay now? LOL!

Divepath.com- Special needs students Trudy and Bill, now certified scuba divers
Photo courtesy Divepath.com

Then there was my students, Trudy was 74 years old, deaf and 70% blind. Her husband Bill was 75 yrs. old and arthritic.  The funny thing is I had  known Bill and Trudy for about five years and Bill  wanted her to learn to scuba dive. Bill, knowing my background, asked if I would take on the challenge of training them.  Trudy is German and I had never spoken to her in German. The morning they reported for their first class room session, I surprised her and started speaking in German (being able to speak five languages always comes in handy).  The look on Trudy’s face was priceless, she smiled, jumped up and gave me a hug-it was onward from there.  Again it took me two weeks of hand touch signs for Trudy to understand  what I needed from her underwater. She got it.  Two weeks later on their 50th wedding anniversary they were both certified scuba divers.  The training to work with divers with special needs and disabilities requires patience, time and most of all a good understanding of the type of disabilities you may encounter while teaching.

We at Divepath.com train instructors to the highest standards. We’ve worked with groups like Operation Scuba from Chicago who teaches scuba diving to Veterans  with disabilities.

Are you a diver? Have you ever thought about diving? Where would you like to scuba dive if you had the chance?


Dr. Jami EpsteinCourse Director Dive Path Scuba Instructor & Dive Master School at Camp Bay Beach Dive & Adventure Resort—Roatan Honduras.  I have been diving since the age of 12. Through diligent study and hard work over the years, I have earned the prestigious titles of Boat Captain, Course Director, Specialty Instructor, Nitrox Instructor, CPR-First Aid Instructor, Handicapped Scuba Instructor, Open Water Scuba Instructor, and The Universal Referral Scuba Instructor. With over 10,000 dives, I am known for the way my attention to the little details of Scuba Instruction.  Previously, I was a Psychotherapist, Marriage and Family Therapist, College Professor, Author and an Addiction Professional! If you are up for a rewarding sport and challenge contact us at Divepath.com or check our web site at www.Divepath.com

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October 11, 2012

SCUBA Diving For Students With Special Needs And Disabilities

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  1. Gina B

    October 11th, 2012 at 10:59 am

    I love this post! My daughters are both learning disabled, but swim like fishes. My 9yo also has an affinity for sea life, so I want to take her for scuba lessons when she is ready – still needs some skills that I hope she can get in special olympics training. We live in PA but we have a place not too far that does scuba training in filled former quarry.

  2. Chris Maddeford

    October 11th, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    Dr E. Keep up great work Operation Scuba enjoys working with you. Thank you for what you do for our veterans and also for your service

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    October 14th, 2012 at 12:23 am

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  4. catherine murungi

    March 13th, 2014 at 5:13 am

    Im an above knee amputee and would love to go scuba diving in mombasa kenya,im a kenyan aged 26yrs had an r.t.a 2yrs ago.