Group of scubility divers

Scubility: Achieving Success Through Adaptability

By Dan Phutthakhun Prungkananon

SDI/TDI/Scubility IT #12327

Introduction to Scubility

Being a scuba diving professional, I am always fascinated by the beauty of the underwater world, filled with colorful coral and a variety of marine species. Every dive site around the world has something unique to offer, attracting the diving community to immerse themselves time and time again. The feeling of being underwater is a unique experience, akin to being in space, where you can escape Earth’s gravity to enjoy the freedom of movement. However, water sports are often believed to be accessible only to those with good physical strength, leaving others to only dream of being there.

The Genesis of Scubility

Scubility was developed as a way to help people with disabilities experience the magic of scuba diving or snorkeling. A few years back we became involved in the SDI Scubility program as a way to use our diving experience and knowledge to bring disabled people beneath the ocean. To empower them with a feeling where they can forget their disability and limitations. The image of a Wheelchair Hero from the movie ‘AVATAR’, who could walk and run only in dreams, was the first seed of the idea for a local Scubility program.

Launching the Scubility Course

Since 2014, my friend has dedicated himself to helping disabled people. Knowing that I am an SDI/TDI Instructor Trainer, he called upon me to help bring them into the world of scuba diving. Captivated by this idea, I decided to offer a special diving course adapted for disabled people: the SDI Scubility Course. The sole purpose was to bring happiness and a feeling of belonging back to our precious disabled students, by giving them an immersive experience under the sea. Perhaps, the mother ocean has a way of treating us all equally, to rebuild confidence and give hope of being alive.

Adapting Diving for All Abilities

Initially, most Scubility divers in our programs were wheelchair users. The main challenge was to design a unique technique suitable for each Scubility diver, based on their limitations. To do so, we set up a protocol keeping in mind all the scenarios that could arise during diving, starting from boarding the boat, to diving, and the communication signals during the dive. Training was also provided to volunteer participants, mostly instructors and assistant divers.

The Scubility Program in Action

In the last four events, we have enrolled many Scubility divers in the program. We also have a team of trained instructors and assistants; without them, this wouldn’t be possible. The main objective was to make safe and comfortable diving experiences for Scubility students. In fact, in the last Scubility program, which concluded in March 2023, we included a blind diver along with six other Scubility divers. We also had 8 instructors and more than 10 assistant participants to make this possible.

The main challenge for blind divers is to set up a communication signal. So, I designed a unique ‘touch signal’ for blind students where they just need to touch an arm to convey a message. For example, when an instructor touches your arm twice, it means he is asking, “Are you okay?”. In case of any emergency during the dive, the blind diver just needs to squeeze the arm of the instructor to get his attention to solve the problem. For each Scubility diver, there were at least two personnel, an instructor, and an assistant, assigned.

Impact and Emotions of Scubility

The most satisfying experience of this program was to see Scubility divers happy, with emotional, teary eyes. I could imagine that probably for the first time, or perhaps the only time, some of them could walk, stand, and move again underwater without a wheelchair, feeling alive again. Seeing a courageous Scubility diver overcoming all challenges and obstacles to make it possible definitely inspires me to organize more events like this.

“Scuba Diving for All” Event

The biggest local Scubility program, named “Scuba Diving for All,” was organized in Khao Lak, Phang-nga Province, south of Thailand, from October 30 to November 5, 2018. We invited international Scubility participant divers for this event. Leading up to this program, we put in lots of effort, preparing hotels and resorts in a friendly design, making sure of choosing good dive sites, and above all, to bring a smile to our precious Scubility students.

I hope that this endeavor will serve as an inspiration for people worldwide to achieve what may seem impossible, while also raising awareness about the importance of charity and kindness in our society. I look forward to welcoming you soon to our joyful underwater realm.

As an SDI TDI & Scubility IT, Dan Phutthakhun Prungkananon, owner of All Star Diving Academy located in Thailand, has a deep-rooted passion for ensuring safety and fun in the water. Keep up with Dan and the All Star Diving Academy via Instagram  or Facebook and by checking out their Dive Center Facebook

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