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Paddling for Disabled

The Most Important Item

No matter what anyone would like, the most important thing before going further is, how does any disabled paddler get back in their kayak after a capsize.

If they can’t get back in their kayak and if those paddling with them haven’t the skills or strength, then kayaking should not be considered – ever.


Kayaking with an impairment

Kayaking is a sport with an easy entry level for people with disabilities. Kayaking is mostly about technique rather than strength. For people with leg impairments, on the water your legs are as good as anyone else’s. For people with other impairments, sit-on and sit-in kayaks can easily be adapted to provide the necessary support.

“People looking at us just see two people paddling. They’re not thinking ‘There’s a paraplegic having a go.'”  (First-time paddler.)

Disabled paddlers have the same issues as anyone else:

  • Finding the right boat and fitting it out
  • Getting the boat to the water
  • Getting into the boat without falling over
  • Having the right safety equipment
  • Having the necessary skills for paddling and rescue

Disabled paddlers have the same goals as any other paddler:

  • improving paddling skills
  • learning rescue skills
  • learning navigation
  • trip planning
  • risk management

Adaptive Paddling Sites

Chosen Valley Creating Ability – They have seating, kayaks and hand adaptors

It’s one thing to be able to hold a paddle, and another thing to be able to pull it through the water. They manufacture a range of adaptations designed to provide the grip you need while still enabling you to drop the paddle quickly. All of the grips mount to standard kayak paddles with a 1-1/4″ shaft diameter.


Equal Adventure adaptive support for kayakers

Kayak Zak’s Adaptive Paddling ~ adaptive kayak program in Northwest California.

A site worth looking at is AdaptivePaddlers

For more Adaptive Paddling hints there is the book Canoeing and Kayaking for Persons with Disabilities Instruction Manual from the American Canoe Association (ACA) by Janet Zeller and Anne Worthem Weber.

See also Outfitting A Kayak For Paddlers With A Disability by Mark Theobald of DisabledAdventurers.com

KASK's aims are to:

1. Promote and encourage the sport of sea kayaking
2. Promote safety standards
3. Develop techniques and equipment
4. Deal with issues of coastal access and protection
5. Organise sea kayak forums around the country
6. Publish the Sea Canoeist Newsletter and the KASK Handbook