Handicap Scuba Diving


Approximately 15% of the population is statistically classified as “handicapped” either from accident or disease. In the United States alone this percentage translates into millions of people, many of whom are fully capable of becoming scuba divers. Patriot Dive Center's Handicap Scuba Training programs are for people with disabilities, and are taught with a high degree of safety. We use teaching techniques developed with over 30 years of continuous feedback and research.

HSA and Handicap Scuba Diving Training

PrintHandicap scuba diving students are trained and certified according to Handicapped Scuba Association (HSA) Physical Performance Standards and a multilevel certification system. The system is so precise and sensitive it enables Dive Professionals to train people with a wide range of disabilities, including paraplegia, quadriplegia, the blind and those with high – functioning brain injuries or mild retardation.


Physical Performance Requirements

Physical Performance Requirements are the required skills that must be performed for by the student for certification. This is the way Diver Training Agencies ensure consistent training that produce safe comfortable divers. The HSA is a Diver Training Agency, specifically designed for handicap scuba diving training and our Performance Requirements are specific for divers with disabilities.

They are not easier requirements, they are in fact among the top Performance Requirements in the Diving Industry and include 'additional' requirements to ensure HSA divers are completely trained and ready to safely join the diving world as fully qualified Scuba divers.


Multi-level Certification

We base our handicap scuba diving student’s diving proficiency on their ability to assist another diver in the water. For example if you’re a Level A diver, you’re certified to dive with one other person. A level B diver must dive with two other able-bodied divers. A level C diver not only requires two dive buddies, but one buddy must be trained in diver rescue. The third member of the buddy team is not there to further assist the B or C level diver, they are there to ensure the safety of the A level or above diver that cannot be assisted by the B or C level diver. Also unique to the training system is Marine Life Identification. Our Open Water Handicap Scuba Diving course requires that one marine life form be described and identified on each of the student’s five certifying scuba dives.

Divers who are able to meet all requirements of a level A diver, may be considered for the PADI Open Water Diver certification.


 Take a moment and watch a video of Linda diving in Bonaire with HSA founder Jim Gatacre.


  • Complete Medical Questionnaire

  • Minimum Age: 12



Advanced Scuba Diver Certification

Once performance requirements are met for open water certification. level “A” “B” and “C” divers can continue their diving education to obtain Advanced Scuba diver Certification.




Dive Buddy Course

Patriot Dive Center’s Dive Buddy Course welcomes certified divers to the challenge of learning about disabilities, accessibility issues and how to dive with people who have disabilities.




  • Minimum Certification Open Water Diver

  • Minimum 40 logged scuba dives, within 2 years prior to starting date of Dive Buddy course.

  • Minimum Rescue skills: Successfully challenged H.S.A. Physical Performance Standards or Equivalent.

  • Minimum Air Sharing Skills: Successfully challenge H.S.A. Physical Performance Standards or Equivalent.


Patriot Dive Center is a Disabled Veteran Owned business, and provides training and travel opportunities in support to Patriots for Disabled Divers (PFDD).  PFDD is a Non-Profit affiliated with the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) to fund these opportunites. pfdd-logo