Advancement for Youth Members With Disabilities

BSA # 33088
© 2010, 2010 Printing
 Advancement for Youth Members With Disabilities.  (pages 34-37)

The following are the guidelines for membership and advancement in Scouting for persons having disabilities or other special needs.

There has been much confusion among volunteers and professionals as to the rules and regulations regarding who qualifies, and—most importantly—who doesn’t qualify for age exemption as a Scout with disabilities.

In an effort to clear up confusion, under Article XI, section 3,clause 20 of the BSA’s Rules and Regulations governing Special Types of Registration, it states the following.

Mentally Retarded or Severely Physically Disabled Youth Members. In the discretion of the (National) Executive Board, and under such rules and regulations as it may prescribe upon consultation with appropriate medical authorities, registration of boys who are either mentally retarded or severely physically handicapped, including the blind, deaf, and emotionally disturbed, over age 11 as Cub Scouts and over age 18 as Boy Scouts or Varsity Scouts, and registration of  young adults who are either mentally retarded or severely physically handicapped, including the blind, deaf, and emotionally disturbed, over age 21 as Venturers, and the participation of each in the respective advancement programs while registered, is authorized.

The operative words are: mentally retarded or severely physically handicapped young people. Examples of these medical conditions include:

• Down syndrome

• Legal blindness

• Severe autism

• People permanently confined to wheelchairs, i.e., someone who is quadriplegic

• People who are deaf

The Annual Health and Medical Record form must be used as part of the procedure for registering a severely physically disabled youth in Scouting. Their medical condition must be certified with a signed statement from a licensed physician. In the case of mentally retarded or emotionally disturbed candidates, their condition must be certified by a statement signed by a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist.

This extension of age is not provided as a window of opportunity for those who are less challenged such as someone who has a moderate learning disability or for those who just can’t seem to advance within the normal time restrictions. Individuals whose medical conditions are not as severe as defined in clause 20 do not qualify for the age restriction exemption and must follow the normal age requirements for advancement. If in doubt, contact the national Youth Development office. ions for Eagle these reasons.

Advancement for Cub Scouts With Disabilities

The advancement program is so flexible that, with guidance, most boys can do the skills. It might take longer for a youth with disabilities to complete the requirements, but these accomplishments will be more personally meaningful. The standard for every boy is, “Has he done his best?”

A Cub Scout who is physically disabled may be given permission by the Cubmaster and pack committee to substitute electives for achievement requirements that are beyond his abilities. It is best to include parents in this process of determining substitutions since they are most familiar with their son’s abilities. Immediate recognition of advancement is even more important for boys with disabilities. The Tiger Cub and Cub Scout Immediate Recognition Kits, the den doodle, and the Den Advancement Chart all help provide immediate recognition in den meetings as achievements and electives are completed. Remember that a month seems like a long time to a boy and that completing requirements for a badge might seem like forever to him. Be sure to give him periodic recognition at pack meetings when he earns a badge.  While leaders must be enthusiastic about helping youngsters with disabilities, they must at the same time fully recognize the special demands that will be made on their patience, understanding, and skill in teaching advancement requirements.

Advancement for Boy Scouts With Disabilities

These guidelines apply to advancement for all Boy Scouts with disabilities.

• All current requirements for an advancement award (ranks, merit badges, or Eagle Palms) must actually be met by the candidate.

• There are no substitutions or alternatives permitted except those that are specifically stated in the requirements as set forth in the current official literature of the Boy Scouts of America.

• Requests for alternate rank requirements for Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class can be made using the information outlined in this chapter.

• The Scout is expected to meet the requirements as stated—no more and no less. Furthermore, he is to do exactly what is stated. If it says “show or demonstrate,” that is what he must do; just telling about it isn’t enough. The same thing holds true for such words as “make,” “list,” “in the field,” “collect, identify, and label,” and so on.

Alternate Requirements Through First Class Rank

A Scout who has a permanent physical or mental disability and is unable to complete all of the requirements for Tenderfoot, Second Class, or First Class rank may submit a request to the council youth development committee to complete alternate requirements. Below are the procedures for applying for alternate requirements. To keep Scouts with disabilities as much in the advancement mainstream as possible, some advancement accommodations may be required. Thus, a Scout in a wheelchair can meet the requirements for hiking by making a trip to a place of interest in his community. Giving more time and permitting the use of special aids are other ways leaders can help Scouts with disabilities in their efforts to advance. The substitute  hould provide a similar learning experience. Bear in mind the outcome of the Scouting experience should be one of fun and learning, and not completing requirements for rank advancements, which might place unrealistic expectations on the Scout.

Advancement for Venturers With Disabilities

These guidelines apply to advancement for all Venturers with disabilities.

• All current requirements for an advancement award must actually be met by the candidate.

• There are no substitutions or alternatives permitted except those that are specifically stated in the requirements as set forth in the current official literature of the Boy Scouts of America.

• Requests for alternate rank requirements may be made using the information outlined in this chapter.

• The Venturer is expected to meet the requirements as stated—no more and no less. Furthermore, he or she is to do exactly what is stated. If it says “show or demonstrate,” that is what he or she must do; just telling about it isn’t enough. The same thing holds true for such words as “make,” “list,” “in the field,” “collect, identify, and label,” and so on.

No council, district, unit, or individual has the authority to add to, or to subtract from, any advancement requirements.