The Changing View of Physical Recreation for People with Disabilities in the USA: A More Inclusive Perspective?

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Anna Brady
Keith Christensen
Judith Holt


people with disabilities, recreation, history


Historically, people with disabilities have had limited access to physical recreation.  However, as society’s view of people with disabilities and their rights has been in transition, so has physical recreation activities for people with disabilities.  The purpose of this study is to examine the transition of physical activity for people with disabilities in the United States.  A three-fold search process of databases, ancestral, and descendent searches were conducted, yielding sixteen studies for inclusion in this historical literature review.  The results show that the earliest physical recreational opportunities for people with disabilities were based in medical response to physical needs.  Today, opportunities for physical recreation for people with disabilities include therapeutic and non-therapeutic activities.  Nonetheless, there is still a division in how society views recreation for people with disabilities, represented by major recreation organizations holding either medical or sociopolitical views of people with disabilities.   

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