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Andrew Leibs

Encyclopedia of Sports & Recreation for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

By March 4, 2013

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Make school sports accessible to all.

I want to say something about my new book, the Encyclopedia of Sports & Recreation for Persons with Visual Impairments.

I designed it to be the first consumer-focused guide to the new world of accessible sports and recreation that has exploded during the last decade -- providing opportunities that are getting blind and visually impaired people off the sidelines and into the game.

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the rapid growth of the Paralympics and the Wounded Warrior Sports Project have changed perceptions about the limits of disability and expectations for access.

In January, Disability Scoop reported that the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights is telling schools they must extend sports access to students with disabilities, "with modifications, aids and services as needed."

The Encyclopedia of Sports can help with implementation. It profiles hundreds of blind athletes and accessible recreation programs, providers, and products. It's inspirational, and outlines how and where a student can get started.

I think it's a book every blind person should have access to for its message about the value sports and fitness have when one makes it an ongoing part of one's life.

I've experienced the elation of sports and its esteem-building benefits. I still feel the throng of teammates after placing in the league meet 2-mile and the dull rumble my bike tires made as I biked onto the boardwalk in Asbury Park after cycling across America.

But I felt more empowered during my first snowboarding and surfing lessons -- sports I never would have tried if not for accessible recreation programs.

There are hundreds of such programs throughout the US. For the first time, blind people can embrace sports as the rest of society does--as a means of personal expression and human interaction that opens paths to adventure, confidence, and lifelong health and fitness.

The Encyclopedia of Sports and Recreation for People with Visual Impairments is available from Amazon and Information Age Publishing.

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