Scuba diving has a special place in my heart. Imagine yourself submerged in a world where gravity seems to lose its grip, and vibrant marine life dances around you. This is the magic of scuba diving, a sport that not only offers unparalleled beauty but also remarkable accessibility.

In 2009, when I was 19 years old, I suffered a spinal cord injury that left me paralyzed from the waist down. I spent the first few years trying to make sense of it all. Ultimately accepting my new normal and finding new hobbies and rekindling old ones became a huge part of my mental, physical and emotional recovery. Scuba diving popped up on my radar in 2013, and I quickly asked my best friend and future business partner about trying it out. The rest is history and diving is forever a part of who I am.

In this blog, we will delve deep into the mesmerizing world of scuba diving, exploring its wonders and how it has become increasingly accessible to individuals of all backgrounds and abilities.

adaptive diving student diver sitting on a poolside

The Myth of Exclusivity

Scuba diving was once perceived as an exclusive sport for the privileged few. However, the tides have changed, and accessibility has become a driving force within the diving community. Let’s explore how accessibility is changing the face of scuba diving, and how it is becoming increasingly accessible to individuals of all backgrounds and abilities.

Training and Certification

To become a certified diver, one must undergo training through organizations like PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors). These organizations have made significant strides in ensuring that diving instruction is accessible to all, including people with disabilities. Adaptive diving programs provide specialized training and equipment for those with physical challenges, ensuring that no one is left behind.

Equipment Advancements

Modern scuba diving equipment has evolved to be more user-friendly and adaptable. Improved buoyancy control devices (BCDs), easy-to-use masks, and accessible fin designs make diving equipment more inclusive. Moreover, specialized gear is available for divers with physical disabilities, such as adaptive fins and wheelchair-accessible dive boats.

Inclusive Dive Destinations

Dive operators and destinations worldwide are recognizing the importance of accessibility. Many resorts and dive centers have ramp access, adapted bathrooms, and other accommodations to make diving accessible for everyone. Some destinations even offer dive sites designed specifically for adaptive diving, complete with accessible entry points and underwater pathways.

man in a wheelchair being held above a crowd

Stories of Triumph and Transformation

It’s not just about saying something is changing, it’s about seeing the evidence for yourself. Here are some real life examples of the changes occurring.

Breaking Barriers

I am a living example – I was always an active person seeking new ways of finding adventure. After my spinal cord injury, I wasn’t sure that exploring the ocean depths were still in the cards for me. Thanks to dedicated PADI Instructors, I not only became a certified diver but also an advocate for disability inclusion in scuba diving. I want my story to be a testament to the power of determination and accessibility.


Our scuba diving certification in 2013 led to the inspiration for Kent and I to develop and create Neuro. Neuro is a functional gum and mint company aimed to bring health and wellness in a better format, better bioavailability and more sustainable. Featured on multiple media platforms, including Shark Tank and TIME magazine, we have helped over 250,000 customers over the last 8 years, educating people that gum and mints can have supplements to improve people’s lives. We are excited to partner with PADI officially and donate 20% of all proceeds on our collaboration for ocean conservation. Thank you, PADI!

The Future of Accessibility in Scuba Diving

While significant strides have been made in making scuba diving accessible, there is still work to be done. Continued research and development in adaptive equipment, further training opportunities, and increased awareness will continue to push the boundaries of accessibility in diving.

The impact of accessible scuba diving goes beyond the individual diver; it creates a ripple effect of inclusivity, fostering a more diverse and vibrant diving community. As more people from different backgrounds and abilities embrace diving, the sport becomes enriched by their unique perspectives and experiences.

Scuba diving is not just a sport; it’s a gateway to an enchanting underwater world filled with wonder and beauty. With accessibility initiatives gaining momentum, more and more individuals, regardless of physical abilities, can partake in this incredible journey.

The underwater realm is a reminder of the importance of preserving and protecting our oceans. Scuba divers often become advocates for marine conservation, further highlighting the significance of this sport. So, whether you’re an experienced diver or someone eager to take the plunge for the first time, remember that the world beneath the waves is waiting to welcome you with open arms, making accessibility in scuba diving a reality for all.

Want to Get Involved?

Click here to learn more about PADI’s partnership with Neuro and the range of limited-edition, ocean-themed and co-branded tins. Remember that 20% of proceeds from sales of the tins are donated directly to the PADI Aware Foundation. To celebrate the launch of this new partnership, Neuro and PADI are giving away a trip to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico for two people. The winners will be treated to a whale watching trip, flights, accommodation and the chance to become PADI Whale Defenders. Enter to win here.

Alternatively, if you’re ready to get in the water, find your nearest dive shop, or adaptive support dive shop by clicking the button below.

This article was written by Ryan Chen, one of the co-founders and CFO of the health & wellness company, Neuro. Born and raised in LA, Chen grew up with an interest in sports and academics, showing an outstanding capability in kendo, a sport which he competed in at an international level. Later, he would meet Kent Yoshimura, his fellow Neuro co-founder, while attending the University of California San Diego, before a snowboarding accident later the same year left Chen paraplegic. Chen and Yoshimura would go on to found Neuro in the pursuit of helping and inspiring people to do more. Chen was named in Forbes’ 30 Under 30 in 2019.

Share This

Related Posts