Adaptive Scuba Diving

Adaptive scuba diving is a method of training divers with a variety of disabilities to participate in scuba as independently as they can safely dive. Adaptive divers are trained with the same information and rigor as able-bodied divers. The only difference is that as they train their specific needs are assessed and met.

Adaptations are made throughout the learning process. In many cases, adaptive divers are certified at the same level as any other divers. In other cases, they are certified with a specially-trained buddy or buddies who are required to dive with them in order to ensure their safety underwater.

No matter the level of certification or the accommodations required, every adaptive diver ends up certified to explore the world’s oceans as an open water diver.

Who can do it?

While the program is open to all medically qualified physically disabled people, Dive Pirates focuses on disabled military, law enforcement and first responder veterans who have sustained injuries in the line of duty, with ongoing physical mobility issues and who have not had scuba training since their injury or disease.

As long as you meet the basic medical criteria for scuba, you may try adaptive diving. People with amputations, spinal cord injuries and those with hearing loss or vision impairment are the most common candidates.

Regardless of specific diagnosis or impairment, as long as you can hold a regulator in your mouth, breathe unaided and aren’t too terrified of water, you are encouraged to try.

How does it work?

Adaptive divers undergo the same dive theory, in-pool learning and skills assessments as other divers. The difference is that during adaptive dive training each diver is constantly assessed in order to determine the strategies and adaptations needed to benefit the individual diver. To that end, adaptive divers are trained in small groups or individually.

During training, adaptive divers work closely with their instructors to identify which tasks they can do unaided and what they need assistance to perform. Unlike able bodied divers, at the end of training, adaptive divers are certified at a variety of levels. These levels are based on their independence in performing the required tasks and exist to ensure the safety of the adaptive diver.

Wetsuits can be customized for adaptive diver needs.

Drysuits can be designed to incorporate adaptive diver needs

Where will I do my training?

Supported by our Dive Chapter network and more than 50 trained Adaptive Diving instructors we have access to an array of dive center facilities nationwide so the Dive Pirates Foundation can plan the most convenient time and location for your training.

What does the Dive Pirates program involve?

Once you have been accepted into the Dive Pirates program and a trip date agreed upon, then we will put you in touch with an adaptive instructor and dive center who will ensure all the elements of training are completed within the necessary timescales and you and your buddy have all the necessary equipment to enjoy your diving trip.

Your responsibilities include the following:

    • Actively participate in any fundraising event held by your dive chapter and instructor on your behalf.
    • Provide Dive Pirates with a photo and bio for them to build a personal diver in training page which we want you to share with my family, friends and local community.
    • Have all online academic work completed at least 60 days prior to your trip as well as all pool training completed at least 30 days prior to the scheduled departure date of your trip.
    • Purchase DAN Medical Dive Accident Insurance (at least the Master plan) or an equivalent policy equal to or greater than this coverage.
    • Have a valid passport in hand within 90 days of the scheduled departure date of your trip.

What do I need to do to apply?

We need to get all the necessary paperwork in place for you so we can schedule your diving program.

To complete and submit your Application you will need:

1. A completed medical statement form and signed Physicians Release

In order to qualify for scuba diving, you must pass a medical qualification that all divers must pass. The medical issues we are concerned about include cardio-respiratory health and the taking of prescribed drugs. You may still be able to dive with these medical conditions but you must have your Medical Doctor (MD) or Doctor of Osteopathy (DO) sign the form releasing you BEFORE we can begin the program. Medical Statements are valid for 12 months, depending on when you enter into our program and how long the training takes, we may need you to renew the Medical Statement in order to complete the trip element of the program. We may also ask for the same medical form to be filled out by any specialists you are seeing for specific medical issues (i.e. cardiologist, neurologist, etc.) 

Medical Statement

Physicians Guidelines

Regarding the Medical Statement

  • The portion of the medical statement regarding your instructor, their facility and the facility’s location will be completed once we have the details of your training confirmed.
  • Any usage of subcutaneous pumps for pain management or for managing muscle spasms or implanted devices is contra-indicated because of the risk of rupture during the dive. Ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunts are also a risk for reverse pressure of fluid into the shunt into the cranial cavity.

Regarding the MD’s or DO’s sign-off.

  • The purpose of the medical questionnaire is to find out your current medical condition prior to participating in an adaptive diver program.
  • A copy of the guidelines for recreational adaptive scuba divers physical examination is provided so that they can be taken to your physician for clarification.
  • This signature must be made by an MD or DO. Unfortunately in this instance a Physicians Assistant (PA) or Nurse Practitioner NP) is NOT valid.

2. Passport style head and shoulder shot, digital photo.

3. $50.00 (refundable) deposit payable by PayPal or debit/credit

4. A sense of adventure and some pirate spirit!

You should now be in a position to complete the application form below.

Please complete the following form with as much information as possible for us to be able to access your fit with our program.

If you have any difficulties with the forms, photo or registration fee please contact us at divepirates@divepirates.org