For years, the IHSA has focused upon reasonable accommodations to allow student-athletes with disabilities to be integrated to the maximum extent possible in IHSA sports and activities. The IHSA has promoted inclusion of student-athletes with disabilities wherever possible, focusing upon the various benefits of participating in extracurricular athletics or activities, which would include socialization, improved teamwork and leadership skills, as well as fitness. Since the 2012-2013 school year, the IHSA has offered events for student-athletes with disabilities in swimming and diving, track and field, cross country and bowling. Since the development of these opportunities for students with disabilities, the IHSA has consistently attempted to promote and broaden the opportunities for student-athletes with disabilities.
In swimming and diving, the following events are offered: 50-yard freestyle, 100-yard freestyle, 200-yard freestyle, and the 100-yard breaststroke. Students can enter all four events.
In track and field, the following events are offered in a wheel chair division: 100-meter, 200-meter, 400-meter, and 800-meter races, and the shot put and discus. Students can enter up to four events.
Since the 2015-16 school year, if certain participation thresholds are met, a combined championship in both swimming and diving and track and field will be conducted. A combined championship consists of adding the combined number of points scored by able-bodied and disabled student-athletes from the same member school during the IHSA state finals for each sport. The top three combined team scores will result in those schools being awarded 1st, 2nd, or 3rd place combined team honors in the sport.
These programs have expanded opportunities for student athletes, and the IHSA has been encouraged by the growth of the programs since their development in 2012. On June 2, 2018, the IHSA plans to conduct its 2nd annual road race with divisions for wheelchair racers and able-bodied runners. More information regarding this first of its kind event will be posted as it becomes available.