Above Limits is continuing to examine the adaptive and therapeutic climbing vision from a national perspective to facilitate advocacy. An early observation is that our industry must be further simplified, standardized and segmented. Our gym managers can be educated with some fresh, adaptive awareness.
Disabled folks perceive limited access due to a diagnosed medical condition and cultural norms. However, conditions such as difference in vision, hearing, neurology or limbs can allow for advantages that can offset the perceived disadvantages. Lack of vision promotes groundedness and patience; less hearing promotes purposeful diligence as does autism; artificial limbs can allow for a mechanical advantage. Baseline adaptations can allow folks with these conditions to boulder or top-rope on a low-angle slab or 5.4 jug-haul. Further, the belayer or spotter’s jobs are unchanged as they secure their partner’s climb. As a result, most climbing gym managers have realized that they can allow for inclusivity with these human conditions without taxing the labor or profitability of the gym. Programming forms organically at lots of gyms nationwide with collaboration between caregivers and gyms.
Conversely, conditions that are based in paralysis, neurology, injury and fear of heights can be much more equipment and labor intensive to facilitate climbing. Programming for these folks requires more facilitation and equipment and must cost more or be subsidized if similarly profitable to gyms. Special and expensive equipment and additional insurance are often required; making these events prohibitive at the expense of these constituents.