Poni launches the RAIDaptive diving program bringing diving to everyone of all abilities with its instructors crossing over to RAID and teaching this program with plans to launch a national disabled diver program in 2020.

The main decision for the crossover to RAID was to offer a disabled diving course, the first of its kind in Brunei,  which has been a long time goal for Poni Divers Managing Director, Mohd Tahsin Wong Abdullah. Wong Abdullah quoted “Disabled diving has been on Poni Diver’s agenda for many years as we want to make diving an inclusive sport. Launching the RAIDaptive course has been the highlight of the year for Poni Divers.”

The RAIDAptive Course is designed to teach individuals with disabilities to become certified divers using certified RAIDaptive Dive Buddies. The RAIDaptive program was designed to bring the sport of diving to persons with disabilities by adapting the RAID Open Water 20 course to the abilities demonstrated by the diver with disabilities. The title, RAIDaptive, is a combination of RAID and Adaptive to identify to the diving community the intent of the program.

When it comes to inspiring figures in Brunei, no one can deny that Norali Yusop is every inch the embodiment of inspiration. Norali is your regular action man, running marathons,  swimming, cycling and now he can add diving to list of activities he has achieved. Not to be overlooked but Norali also has the brains to match having studied for a Masters Degree and being presented the prestigious Hans Award from King’s College, London and also a Chevening Scholar. On its own, this already seems like such an achievement, but when you add that Norali is visually impaired, that just might blow your mind, being the first disabled person to learn to dive in Brunei.

Diving For Everyone Including the Physically Challenged

When discussion of launching disabled diving were first discussed at Poni, Anna Aziz, Business Development Director  had Norali in mind, as she not only went to Maktab Sains with Norali, she was also a fellow Kings College alumni. Norali who became blind at the age of 17, has proved, not only to himself, that despite his limitations he has managed to overcome obstacles and challenges with a healthy dose of positivity.

About 15 percent of the world’s population has some form of physical disability, which can range from those that have been present since birth to those caused by injuries or illnesses. Although disabilities can equate to limitations on physical pursuits, that doesn’t have to mean that scuba diving is out of the question. Poni offer instructor training to teach people with disabilities to dive, either as part of their regular instructor training or as a specialty course.

Scuba diving can be a fantastic experience for many disabled people, as the weightless environment often allows the diver to experience freedom from whatever restraints they face on land. Someone confined to a wheelchair can experience almost extreme liberation while hovering weightless in mid-water. Being suspended weightlessly in water is so unlike anything we can do on land which is often the draw of the sport and skills we either have or lack tend not to matter that much. Scuba diving has also been used successfully as therapy for people with disabilities. Physical therapists have long known that water therapy is beneficial, but scuba diving seems to have its own benefits too. There are lots of programs that teach scuba diving to wounded war veterans, and the therapeutic results there are by now well-documented, and with a burgeoning disabled dive market, this opens up diving to more people.

Depending on the severity and nature of a disability, various diving options are open to a student. Some will be able to take full scuba-diving certifications; others may need to do their dives with certified instructors to ensure that they can dive safely. A number of dive operators around the world offer this service, and have instructors who are certified to dive with disabled divers. Who better than Noorali to be the first ever disabled diver certified in Brunei as we run the first disabled diver experience ever in Brunei.

Disabled diving is a fast growing activity around the world in recent years in the industry. Poni is proud to now also help Brunei join the rapidly growing list of countries that can offer diving to the various communities around the world. Poni have actively been expanding their efforts to make diving more inclusive having hosted a Women’s Dive Day as part of International Women’s Day.