Diving instructor Aravind Tharunsri believes that scuba diving as a recreational activity is not just limited to abled people. India’s first disabled diver’s instructor, he has been organising scuba diving sessions for differently abled people. “One needs to be extra careful while taking differently abled people for scuba diving. Some individuals are scared of water, so I train them in swimming pools. That will increase their confidence. We have to make them comfortable and train how to be underwater. Once they gain confidence, then they can go for their first deep-sea dive,” says Aravind, director of Temple Adventures, a scuba diving center in Puducherry.
He says that scuba diving or just being in the water gives a sense of freedom to wheel-chair bound individuals. “Deep-sea scuba diving is not recommended for all differently abled. Paraplegics, quadriplegics and amputees can do diving in oceans. But others can try diving in swimming pools. Earlier, we have done open water scuba diving events for people with disabilities. Some individuals were getting into pools after 15 or more years. And it was the first time for few others. We cannot use the same hand signals to communicate with differently abled persons. They might not be able to follow it,” he points out.
Aravind recollects that he has assisted more than 400 differently abled individuals to do diving in swimming pools and 150 people to do scuba diving in the ocean. “Chennai coast is not favourable for diving for disabled. But in Puducherry the waves are favourable. The best time to do scuba diving is from January to March when there is less wave. It will not cause any problem for paraplegics and quadriplegics. They can dive only up to 5-12 metres depth,” Aravind tells us.
Talking about the benefits of aquatic therapy, he shares, “It relieves muscles spasm and decreases pain. I have seen how disabled people were brimming with joy after scuba diving. By this month-end, I am planning to do pool training for differently abled people.”