Disability sport can be defined as a continuum of developmental and competitive, mainstreamed and/or disability-specific sport opportunities for individuals with disabilities (DePauw & Gavron, 1995; Sherrill, 1998). According to federal laws (PL 93-142; PL 101-476), sport opportunities have been specifically identified as an important component in a diversified, school-based physical education program to be used by adapted/regular physical educators for individuals with disabilities. Sport can help develop lifetime leisure skills and allows individuals with disabilities to make healthy lifestyle choices. Individuals with disabilities are afforded self-worth and confidence through physical skill competence learned while engaged in sport. Sport participation can help bridge transition into society, providing an excellent medium to foster inclusion of individuals with and without disabilities, as well as increasing the value of individuals with disabilities (i.e., public recognition) among non-disabled peers. Perhaps most importantly, sport is a motivational and fun way to provide social, functional, and age-appropriate physical activity to individuals with disabilities (Kasser, Collier, & Solava, 1997).
Competency in various aspects of disability sport as part of the body of knowledge/service delivery necessary for an adapted physical educator has been recognized recently by the profession in the major textbooks (Sherrill, 1998; Winnick, 1995) used for preservice training, as well as identified in the Adapted Physical Education National Standards (Kelly, 1995). Yet, few adapted physical educators employed in public school settings seem to be promoting or including disability sport opportunities in their overall physical education programming responsibilities. For example, of the 219 individuals who took the 1997 National Adapted Physical Education Certification Exam, 144 (65.8%) indicated they had no contracted coaching responsibilities in the area of disability sport for their students (L. E. Kelly, personal communication, April 23, 1998).
In a 1992 study of 36 elite Paralympic athletes with cerebral palsy, over half of the subjects indicated they had received no encouragement at all to develop their athletic interests and abilities from physical education teachers in their schools (Little & Gaebler-Spira, 1996). One athlete was reported as stating that physical education classes made him believe he could NOT be an athlete! Other athletes cited that "when a physical education teacher did make the effort to be encouraging [of the child's athleticism], it often had an extremely positive impact" (p. 53).
Megginson and Lavay (manuscript in preparation) questioned whether adapted physical educators felt competent in providing disability sport and lacked necessary knowledge/skills to include such opportunities in their service delivery. They investigated perceived competency levels of adapted physical educators toward select disability sport concepts that might influence the delivery of sport opportunities in their programs. The Disability Sport Competence Scale (DSCS), a 5-point, Likert-type instrument, was developed by the investigators and determined to be a valid and reliable instrument to measure competence levels of adapted physical educators in the following areas--fundamental disability sport knowledge/skills, primary/secondary disability sport organizations and national governing bodies, and disability-specific sport. The DSCS was used on 208 subjects attending regional (west, east, and midwest) conferences on adapted physical activity or enrolled in select university professional training programs across the nation. Table 1 outlines factors and items included in the DSCS.
Table 1 shows that, with the exception of three moderately rated items (i.e., mainstream sport adaptation techniques, Special Olympics, and wheelchair basketball), the overwhelming majority of …