Adaptive Kayak launches provide expanded access to
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Your outdoor enjoyment should only be limited by the intensity of your cravings, not accessibility issues.
This is why developments in adaptive kayak launches, which take into account the contribution of people with disabilities, are such a useful and – dare we say it – cool step forward.
Board Safe Adaptive Kayak Launch
If you’ve been kayaking before you know it can be a bit of a process to get into the water. First, you need to take out the heavy kayak and then put your own body in it while the boat is wobbling in the water. At the same time, you try not to lose your paddle. Now imagine how difficult it would be if you hadn’t made full use of your legs.
Board Safe Docks, a manufacturer of adaptive kayak speedboats, made these specially adapted docks. They allow people in a wheelchair or who have other physical disabilities, disabilities or limitations in mobility to enter and exit a kayak easily at water level, provided they have good strength upper body.
Check out the company information video below.
Kayakers with different levels of mobility will use this adaptive kayak launch in different ways. For example, more mobile kayakers can benefit from the easy launch channel with brackets that sit underneath the kayak and keep it stable as you enter.
Less mobile kayakers will have additional options that will make it easier for them to get in and out of a kayak. They can use a sliding bench with transition steps and a board that slides over the kayak and helps users lower into the boat.
Handrails and overhead straps provide additional support if needed. Canoes and other boats also work with the multipurpose dock.
In this video from Board Safe, you can watch adaptive paddler Ken, who uses a power wheelchair, go from his vehicle into the water and then out of the water. He does everything completely on his own. He uses a string to tow his kayak to the adaptive launch. After that he is able to maneuver his chair and then his body on the kayak using the ramp, seated steps, bar, and straps above the kayak launch area.
Adapt kayaks for accessibility
The US Access Board explains what makes different waterway adaptations work on its site and lists American Disabilities Act requirements that help make boating and other water sports more accessible.
In addition to adaptive launches like that of Board Safe, there are other ways to make a kayak or canoe easier to use for people with arthritis and those who have lost mobility in their legs temporarily or permanently. . These include mounting elevated kayak paddles, adding stabilizers, or using kayak carts to gently roll boats into the water.
Kayaks may also be suitable for those who suffer from other problems, such as visual impairment, loss of arm and shoulder mobility, and spinal injuries. Some problems require simple solutions, such as placing duct tape to help blind people place their hands on their paddle. Others may require more work, such as special seats inside the kayak for paraplegics.
Where can you find one?
BoardSafe is not the only manufacturer of adaptive kayak launches. EZ Dock also provides access options; it has an EZ Launch ADA kayak and canoe system with features similar to BoardSafe. AccuDock also sells similar ADA compliant options. The Mod-U-Dock company offers an elevator that can lower a partially paralyzed kayaker into their boat. For the most part, you have to order these products online through their manufacturers.
Communities like Brockport, New York, have started installing them on public waterways and making them free for anyone to use. EZ Dock has placed one at Cunningham Lake in Omaha, Nebraska. Board Safe installed one at Leaser Lake in Lehigh County, PA.
Have you seen accessible kayaks and boat ramps in your area? Check your local or national waterway websites for listings and maps of ADA kayak launches, like this one for Michigan.
What do you think are the best ways to make kayaking accessible to everyone?