How do divers with disabilities determine what help they need for diving?

The Needed Scuba Assistance (NSA) evaluation is an assessment tool that focuses on whether a diver with disabilities can independently perform, with or without modifications, the 20 scuba skills required for open water certification or whether he or she requires assistance.

The evaluation will result in a score (0-50) to generally describe the magnitude of assistance the diver may need. Instructors receive additional training on how to perform a NSA evaluation, but dive buddies also need to review and understand the NSA evaluation, since the NSA and the resulting score conveys relevant information identifying the adaptive diver’s needs for scuba assistance.

For instance, a score between 25 and 50 will generally mean that the diver will require greater assistance and a more experienced adaptive dive team. The NSA evaluation not only serves to identify the nature and extent of the diver’s particular scuba needs, but also determines the qualifications required of the adaptive dive team, as well as the diver’s eligibility for the different types of adaptive scuba certifications. If the diver can successfully perform all required scuba skills independently, with or without modifications or adaptive gear, he or she will be eligible for both an open water certification from a recognized training agency and adaptive diver certification. If the diver needs special assistance to perform any of the required scuba skills, then he or she will be required to dive with an adaptive dive team consisting of two certified adaptive dive buddies and that certification will indicate such condition.  

Similarly, if the NSA evaluation score is more than 25, indicating the diver needs a greater level of assistance or assistance with certain key scuba skills, he or she will be required to dive with an adaptive dive team consisting of a certified adaptive dive buddy and an advanced adaptive dive buddy or an adaptive scuba instructor. All scuba certifications indicate the makeup of the adaptive dive team and special conditions, if any, for that adaptive diver.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.