Adaptive Scuba Diver

Congratulations on deciding to join a select number of people in the world: Scuba Divers! You are about to embark on a journey filled with fun, adventure and immeasurable rewards.

Divecor believes anybody can be a scuba diver, regardless of their abilities (with just a few exceptions) and that adaptive scuba training should be no different than what others receive through the internationally recognised scuba agency PADI.

As the name implies; “Adaptive Scuba” involves modifications to standard scuba so that persons with physical or cognitive limitations can experience scuba safely and earn a scuba certification.

The Diveheart programmes specialises in adaptive scuba diving. This is an equivalent method of training divers who have a variety of physical or cognitive limitations and disabilities, so individuals can independently participate in scuba diving safely and earn a certification level in scuba diving. Friends and family can also learn to dive alongside the adaptive diver to not only assist but to share the magic of the underwater world.

Diveheart’s Training Program provides the supplemental instructions, guidelines and protocols that relate to the three main features of Adaptive Scuba:

  • 1. Application of special modifications and techniques enabling the performance of scuba skills;
  • 2. Enhancement of the “Buddy system” (the Adaptive Dive Team approach), by requiring two specially trained dive buddies to assist in the performance of the required scuba skills;
  • 3. Use of Adaptive Scuba equipment.

Diveheart’s training program is unique in that it gives individuals with disabilities an opportunity to earn two open water certifications. One is from PADI. This certification can be earned if, after training and practice, you are able to modify techniques to perform all the required scuba skills independently. You can also earn Diveheart’s Adaptive Diver Certification.

For those divers with disabilities who qualify with both certifications an additional benefit is given. In case such diver’s disabilities progress to a point where they can no longer perform necessary scuba skills independently, they will still have an opportunity to dive by using their Diveheart Certification Card.

Adaptive Diver (AD) and Open Water Certifications (OW)

AD and OW certifications will be issued to divers who have successfully completed the course requirements of Diveheart and a nationally recognised scuba training agency i.e. PADI. The diver will receive two certification cards; an open water certification card and Diveheart’s Adaptive Diver certification. There will be NO conditions on the Diveheart certification card. The diver will be eligible to advance your training to become a certified Adaptive Dive Buddy, Adaptive Scuba Instructor, or other additional training. The diver is uniquely qualified to make major contributions in establishing and creating greater awareness for adaptive scuba and making it more available to the community of individuals with disabilities.

Adaptive Diver – Adaptive Dive Team (ADT)

This certification will be issued to a diver who has successfully completed both the course requirements of Diveheart and PADI and the divers NSA score was 25 or below. The certification card will indicate that the diver is an Adaptive Diver whose buddy team must include two certified Adaptive Dive Buddies.

Adaptive Diver – Advanced Adaptive Dive Team (AADT)

This certification will be issued to a diver who has successfully completed both course requirements of Diveheart and PADI and the divers NSA score was above 25 or required assistance with: controlled ascents and descents, equalisation, out of air emergency alternatives and or/Full Face Mask usage. The diver’s certification card will indicate that they are an Adaptive Diver whose buddy team must include two Adaptive Dive Buddies certified by a nationally recognised adaptive scuba agency and one of the Adaptive Dive Buddies must have Diveheart’s Advanced Adaptive Dive Buddy certification or a certified Adaptive Dive Buddy who has certifications equivalent to Diveheart’s advanced certification.

Adaptive Diver – Advanced Adaptive Dive Team Plus special conditions (AADT+)

This certification will be issued to a diver who has successfully completed both course requirements of Diveheart and PADI and the divers NSA score was above 25 or required assistance with: controlled ascents and descents, equalisation, out of air emergency alternatives and or/Full Face Mask usage and requires some other special assistance, adaptation, procedures, or equipment.

For example, if a family member or trusted friend is required to help reduce stress or provide emotional security throughout the dive for the diver, the certification card will indicate that such individuals must be part of the adaptive team. Such trusted friend or family member must also be a certified dive buddy and the other dive team member must be a certified DH adaptive Instructor or be a certified adaptive instructor who has a certification equivalent to Diveheart’s Adaptive Scuba Instructor certification.

Additionally, divers will receive this certification if they are unable to, or do not wish to complete the entire open water course but want to complete one of the limited entry level scuba certifications. The Adaptive Diver must dive with an adaptive team that includes an Adaptive Scuba Instructor and one certified dive buddy and may only dive during day light hours to a maximum depth of 40 feet.

Any other special adaptation, procedure, or equipment that is necessary to assist you to safely dive and perform required scuba skills will also be noted on this type of card as a condition or limitation to diving.

Diveheart’s Adaptive Dive Team Approach and the Adaptive Diver’s responsibility to share information

For the Adaptive Diver’s (AD) safety and the safety of their Adaptive Dive Team (ADT), the AD must be willing to share information including medical history. They will be required to sign a Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) waiver form prior to training so Diveheart may share pertinent medical information with your Adaptive Scuba Instructor and others that may be involved in their training. The AD will complete the Diveheart’s Adaptive Diver Registry form which is designed to obtain important information about them, so their Instructor and ADT can give the training and assistance needed. The goal is to build a relationship where the AD is comfortable working with instructors and the ADT members who understand important information about the AD and their team, and the instructors are comfortable working with the AD.

It is the responsibility of the Adaptive Diver to provide an accurate medical history and a frank and honest assessment of any special needs and the scope of the AD’s abilities. The Adaptive Dive Team will use this information to address, modify and adapt the AD’s scuba training to their individual needs.

Diveheart believes in the “Challenge by Choice” philosophy. The AD’s Diveheart Team will encourage the AD to attempt all scuba skills and will make necessary adaptions so the AD can achieve a comfort level acceptable to the AD and will always respect the AD’s assessment of how comfortable and capable they feel of performing a particular skill. The AD and their Diveheart team will work together to so the AD can meet the challenge to become a certified diver.

Diveheart training is a process, not an event and the most important process in play is how the team works and assists each other.

At the core of Diveheart’s training protocol is the requirements that all members of the dive team, including the Adaptive Diver, know how to assess a diver’s special needs for scuba assistance and how to meet those needs through the application of modified techniques and equipment.

Ongoing Evaluation and the Final NSA Course Evaluation

Throughout the AD’s training the AD and their Diveheart Adaptive Scuba Instructor will continuously re-evaluate the AD’s capacity to execute the required scuba skills. The AD may always require assistance with some skills and others the AD may be able to perform independently with hard work and practice using modified techniques or adaptive equipment.

After the AD, has successfully completed all course requirements, the AD’s Diveheart Adaptive Scuba Instructor will perform the final NSA evaluation to determine the AD’s certification eligibility and the qualifications of the ADT.

The Needed Scuba Assistance (NSA) Evaluation is an assessment tool that focuses on whether the AD can independently perform, with or without modification, the 20 scuba skills required for open water certification or whether the AD requires assistance.

The NSA evaluation is the foundation to Diveheart’s integrated Adaptive Training Programme. The NSA system not only serves to identify the nature and extent of the AD’s special scuba needs, but also determines the qualification of the AD’s Adaptive Dive Team, as well as the AD’s eligibility for the different types of Adaptive Scuba Certifications issued by Diveheart.

The NSA is an ongoing process starting with the AD completing the initial assessment using the “Adaptive Diver NSA Self-Assessment” form.

The form asks the AD to self-assess whether they think they need assistance with any of the basic scuba skills in view of their abilities. It is a very preliminary self-assessment to give to the Instructor a sense of what the AD believes their capacity to perform the scuba skill is after they have learned how the skills is performed. In consideration of the self-assessment and at an early point in the programme the AD’s Diveheart Adaptive Scuba Instructor will also complete an initial NSA evaluation. To the extent that the AD cannot initially perform the skills independently the Instructor will help the AD use adaptive methods and equipment so they can perform them on their own. If that is not possible, the AD will work with the AD Instructor so the AD can effectively execute the skill.

Diveheart’s Post Certification NSA Commitment

If at any time after the AD receives their Diveheart Adaptive Diver Certification, they believe they require more or less assistance with required scuba skills, the AD may schedule an appointment with a Diveheart Adaptive Scuba Instructor to update their NSA evaluation for recertification with appropriate conditions, if any, based upon the level of scuba assistance required.

Creating an Adaptive Diver’s profile

The NSA evaluation creates a specific and personalised profile that identifies vital information about the AD and their special needs for assistance with scuba diving. It is information the AD must convey to the Adaptive Dive Team.

The Adaptive Diver profile is dynamic and may change over time. This why updated assessments must be updated whenever there is a perceived change in the AD. This allows the Adaptive Dive Team can make any adjustments to the requirements for special assistance.

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