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Adaptive Techniques Certification

Diving is replete with countless stories of transformation! Adaptive diving is more of an approach: diving adapts to each person and their needs.

Underwater, everyone is equal. It doesn’t matter if there are cognitive or developmental concerns, or if support for stress and anxiety is needed, or that the diver has physical challenges.  Some adaptive techniques are just more visible than others.

PADI’s approach to diver education is inclusive: everyone who meets a course’s prerequisites is welcome to enroll. All PADI courses are performance-based, meaning that we modify skill techniques to meet performance requirements by leveraging what individual students can do.  Standards tell us the “what” – in most cases, there is no required “how.”

The Adaptive Techniques Specialty course builds on that foundation by enhancing professional training to include student-centered and prescriptive approaches when adapting techniques to meet divers’ needs.

This class emphasizes the art of possible and empowering each person on a journey that is unique to them. It is directly applicable to both Guided Giving and Discover Scuba Diving experiences as well. Patience, encouragement, a positive attitude, respect and a supportive tone go a long way.

The class is designed to challenge the common misperceptions about obvious or hidden “disabilities.” We focus on what divers can do rather than on what they can’t do, providing alternatives to standard equipment and adapting our teaching styles to the way they learn – as needed.

Holistic teaching considers the complete person – physically, psychologically and socially.

As a PADI Adaptive Techniques Professional, you’ll be more aware of individual considerations when diving with people with unique needs or disabilities, have empathy for what it feels like to dive with physical challenges and will be trained to use Adaptive Techniques to make things easier and run more smoothly.

You will also be trained to properly counsel and direct student divers (based on their abilities) toward PADI certification, PADI experience programs or a disabilities-dedicated diving organization for limited certification programs.  The majority of divers are able to meet PADI certification standards using adaptive techniques.

The class consists of knowledge development, two confined water skill development workshops and two open water workshops.

Your class will cover a range of topics including:


  • misconceptions, cultural/ social sensitivity and recommended terminology
  • planning, logistics and timeframes
  • conservative judgement and assessment
  • roles and duties of instructors and certified assistants
  • modifications to exposure gear and equipment
  • putting on and taking off exposure gear without injury
  • safe entries, exits, transfers and lifts
  • buddy communication skills including touch-based methods
  • assisting with mask clearing and equalization
  • establishing neutral buoyancy and appropriate trim using adaptive weighting techniques
  • experiencing diving with (simulated) blindness, amputation or paraplegia
  • assessing dive site suitability and creating accessible options
  • coordinating with a diver’s medical team
  • administrative/ pricing, legal, medical and liability/ insurance concerns
  • specialized equipment for physically disabled divers
PADI adaptive scuba

Give us a call for more info- we’re happy to answer any questions you might have!

What’s Required
  • All participants must currently hold Dive Professional Certification and must have been diving recently. (Divemaster/ Master Freediver or above, any recognized training agency)
  • Minimum Age: Professional divers ages 18 and up may participate.
  • First Aid/ CPR Certification: You must provide proof of CPR/ First Aid training from a recognized training agency (such as EFR, DAN, Red Cross or American Heart Association) within the last 24 months.
  • Insurance: DAN Dive Insurance is required and you must provide proof of insurance prior to your arrival on Catalina Island. Learn more
  • Medical Clearance: All certification classes require medical clearance before arrival on the island. Please download and complete this form immediately, returning it signed via email as soon as possible before your arrival.
  • Depending on each diver’s unique circumstance, signoff by a medical doctor may be required.  Please contact us immediately if you have any concerns whatsoever. If you need medical signoff and you do not have that before your arrival, you will not be allowed to proceed with your class.
  • Gear: You must provide your own personal dive gear.

You must have excellent buoyancy and be in good overall health.

What’s Included
  • On-site Knowledge Development: Your instructor will provide some materials ahead of time for you to review, but the majority of teaching will occur on-site in an interactive, informal format.
  • Dive Site Gear: We provide a privacy tent with shade, mats and chairs, fresh rinse water (personal and gear), and cold storage for medications.
  • Tanks and weights are included.
  • Adaptive Diving Specialty Gear: We will provide sample specialized weight systems, swimming aids, transfer systems, materials to assist in donning wetsuits and blacked-out masks for your use during the course. 
  • Proof of Certification: We will process your certification and PADI will issue a certification e-Card upon completion of your class.  Physical cards may be purchased from PADI at an additional charge.
  • Drinks and Snacks: We provide water (and hot beverages if it’s chilly), but please feel free to bring your own light snacks and we’ll keep them in a cooler if needed.
  • Catering: Healthy catered lunches including options for protein shakes are available at an additional fee.

Our Environmental Commitment ensures that our gear, products and packaging are as eco-friendly as possible. Learn more

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