When Jessica from AquaSub Scuba first contacted me about teaching scuba diving to adults who were Blind, Hearing Impaired, or both, I suspected that she had a little too much nitrogen in her blood stream. As it turned out, I was the one who wasn’t thinking clearly. She and Sergey Vitkovskiy were planning a 'Discover Scuba' session (DSD) for a very special group of individuals.
As I learned more, there was no doubt in my mind that I had to be a part of this. I'm proud to say that every one of my Instructor and Dive Master colleagues at the shop readily agreed to give their time to the endeavour.
Martyna Pietkiewicz and I were the individuals lucky enough to get the job. So, with the help of experienced diver Brenda Ross, the three of us set off for a 'Discover Scuba' session that we will remember for the rest of our lives.
Four candidates qualified for the experience who, along with their personal interveners, showed up at the Variety Village pool in Scarborough to discover scuba diving for themselves. They had been given a dry land orientation to scuba gear and an opportunity to breathe through a scuba regulator in a non-threatening classroom environment only days before. So, with a little trepidation, the 3 of us set to work, giving some brief directions and getting our new students off the deck and into their gear.
Our new friends took to the water and in no time at all were playing and frolicking with each other on the bottom of the pool like they had been doing this all their lives. It was amazing to see the zest for life, and the passion for learning and trying new things, that unfolded before us as the afternoon progressed.
You can probably predict some of our challenges, like scuba sign language often directly conflicts with other forms of Sign language. A ‘thumbs up’ sign to a person who is hearing impaired means ‘I’m ok and having a great time’, to a dive instructor, it means ’I’m done and getting out of the water’. You can no doubt see where that one went.
We also anticipated some hesitation on the part of the candidates to boldly go, when they couldn't see. Were we wrong! Keeping up with them was our challenge.
There was not one person around who wasn't beaming from ear to ear with the outstanding success of this class. It was, without a doubt, the best DSD I have ever taught!