Handicapped Diver Training at Mermaids Dive Center Pattaya, Thailand

IAHD – Mermaid’s Disabled Diver Training

IAHD handicapped divers training Pattaya Thailand

IAHD Divers Program

IAHD (International Association of Handicapped Divers) training in Pattaya, Thailand. Mermaid’s offer instructor training for our dive interns and any OWSI Instructors who can now complete scuba diving training for the disabled diver.

Scuba Diving is a pleasure for all; the able bodied and the disabled diver. Having a disability should not be a reason for the diver to at least experience the feeling of diving in a confined swimming pool situation.

Klaas Brouver the President and an instructor trainer for IAHD came to Mermaid’s to teach our resident PADI Course Director and MD, Stephen Blumenthal how to not only conduct disabled diver programs for the disabled diver but also “train instructors” to conduct disabled diver training too. This can now be offered within the internships as a very specialized program.

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The disabled diver training program that Klaas offered was very professional, extremely interesting and really an eye opener to the needs, requirements and overall considerations for teaching the handicapped.

Disabled Diver – The Professional Training covered:

The disabled diver training that I was able to photograph was that of the instructor course. Klaas covered all topics in classroom academics and then I managed to capture some of the practical applications and skill training on camera.

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Noriko (ISB – Impaired Sighted Buddy) – Andy (instructor – Sighted buddy)

IAHD Pattaya Thailand divers training

John (ISB) – Liz (instructor SB – Sighted buddy)

IAHD Pattaya Thailand diving training

Michael (simulated blind diver) – Doug (Instructor)

The lessons were conducted by Steve (and overlooked by Klaas). We had six students in a great exercise. 3 of the guys were asked to wear “blacked out masks” which was a good simulation for being blind. The other three had to play the role of the instructor (SB – Sighted buddy). The “instructors” had to lead the blind divers (ISB – Impaired Sighted Buddy) out of the dive shop keeping “constant contact” explaining all that they were doing with each step.

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The instructors formed a chain with the blind divers to assist with getting the equipment into and out of the taxi to the dive training swimming pool. The blind divers were assisting all of the way as part of the overall experience – they should be involved as much as possible.

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The blind divers were sat down whilst the equipment was brought to them. Constant contact was again enforced. It really brought the experience home to me when in the last picture Michael (the blind diver) heard a large splash from the pool and he jumped and asked Doug what it was – “were there other swimmers / divers?” – Doug the instructor explained all – it really made a realization that these guys could see nothing at all and their perception of everything was very different. Although this experience will NEVER allow us to empathize totally with a visually impaired person it certainly really made us all much more sensitive to their awareness and heightened other senses (i.e. hearing and feeling).

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The blind divers were sat down whilst the equipment was brought to them. Constant contact was again enforced. It really brought the experience home to me when in the last picture Michael (the blind diver) heard a large splash from the pool and he jumped and asked Doug what it was – “were there other swimmers / divers?” – Doug the instructor explained all – it really made a realization that these guys could see nothing at all and their perception of everything was very different. Although this experience will NEVER allow us to empathize totally with a visually impaired person it certainly really made us all much more sensitive to their awareness and heightened other senses (i.e. hearing and feeling).

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In the pool the disabled divers were aided into their equipment and then a briefing from the dive instructors as to the signals for the diving experience. All dive signals (surface and underwater communications) start with a gentle “squeeze” of the right hand (of the diver). A finger placed to the back of the hand signals – descent where as a finger to the palm of the hand suggests an ascent is appropriate. The “OK” sign is a gentle squeeze to the bicep. Here in the center photo you can see Liz place her finger on the back of John’s hand signaling descent and in the following photo the divers going under. (Bear in mind that all of the divers had been briefed on the equipment and experienced breathing under water with their faces in the pool already etc).

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The simulated blind diver training (just one section of a large course) was fantastic!!! – after the guys came to the surface the masks were removed VERY slowly (they had been on for almost 2 hours), the guys were then all debriefed and asked of their experiences. Now please remember that what you have seen is instructors being taught to instruct the program. It was fantastic…but there is so much more to the program…

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Following the “Blind training”, Steve and Klaas went on to continue to demonstrate different methods and procedures for egression (getting out) of a handicapped diver form the pool – many of the procedures applied to the use of a dive boat also. this was very interesting and many of the procedures can be applied to the PADI rescue diver course also. The procedures applied to a disabled diver with many differing disabilities.


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After further classroom academics it was time to make the practical application scenario of assisting a paraplegic in to diving. Again this was extremely interesting and highlighted MANY different considerations for sensitivity, access, equipment considerations etc. Liz and Michael played the handicapped divers using chairs to simulate wheel chairs. The exercise was to prepare the equipment, access the dive site (the beach), make an entry and gear up. This again was superb.

The IAHD program is an extremely interesting program indeed. It’s intentions are to be able to allow us to be more sensitive to those less able bodied and allow them to enjoy the diving that we take for granted. You will see links to the IAHD web site here and please feel free to contact them for more details…

Now that Mermaid’s CDC Pattaya, Thailand is fully certified to train dive instructors in the handicapped divers course – this can be offered as an additional string to an instructors bow. This allows the dive instructor to be able to offer the wonderful realm of scuba diving to a wider customer base and hence make you more employable within the scuba diving industry (and share the enjoyment with more:-).

Become a handicapped scuba diver instructor -contact Mermaids dive centre.

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