Scouts with Disabilities Advancement

Advancement for Youth Members with Special Needs

The following are the guidelines for membership and advancement in Scouting for persons having disabilities or other special needs.

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) provides the following definition of an individual with a disability:  "An individual is considered to have a 'disability' if s/he has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities (e.g. seeing, hearing, speaking, walking, breathing, performing manual tasks, learning, caring for oneself and working), has a record of such an impairment, or is regarded as having such an impairment."

Membership

Scouts with disabilities may register beyond the normal registration age. This requires the approval of the Unit Leader, chartered organization and the local council. Proper documentation must be provided. Please contact your District Advancement Chair if you have questions or need assistance.

Advancement for Cub Scouts with Disabilities

The Cub Scout advancement program is so flexible that, with guidance, most boys can do the skills. It might take longer for a disabled boy to earn his awards, but he will appreciate them more by knowing he has made the effort. The standard for every boy is "Has he done his best?"  A Cub Scout who is physically or mentally disabled may be given permission by the Cubmaster and pack committee to substitute electives for achievement requirements that are beyond his abilities. It is best to include parents in this process of determining substitutions, since they are most familiar with their son's abilities.

Advancement for Boy Scouts with Disabilities

Alternate Requirements for Tenderfoot, Second Class and First Class Ranks

A Boy Scout who is unable to complete any or all of the requirements for Tenderfoot, Second Class or First Class rank because he is physically or mentally disabled may complete alternate requirements if the following criteria are met:

  1. The physical or mental disability must be of a permanent rather than a temporary nature.
  2. A clear and concise medical statement concerning the Scout's disabilities must be submitted by a physician licensed to practice medicine. In the alternative, an evaluation statement certified by an educational administrator may be submitted. The medical statement must state the doctor's opinion that the Scout cannot complete the requirement(s) because of a permanent disability.
  3. The Scout, his parents, or leaders must submit to the council advancement committee, a written request that the Scout be allowed to complete alternative requirements for Tenderfoot, Second Class, or First Class rank. The request must explain the suggested alternate requirements in sufficient detail so as to allow the advancement committee to make a decision. The request must also include the medical statement required in paragraph two above. The written request for alternate requirements must be submitted to and approved by the local council prior to completing alternate requirements.
  4. The Scout must complete as many of the regular requirements as his ability permits before applying for alternate requirements.
  5. The alternate requirements must be of such a nature that they are as demanding of effort as the regular requirements.
  6. When alternate requirements involve physical activity, they must be approved by the physician.
  7. The unit leader and any board of review must explain that to attain Tenderfoot, Second Class, or First Class rank a candidate is expected to do his best in developing himself to the limit of his resources.
  8. The written request must be approved by the council advancement committee, utilizing the expertise of professional persons involved in Scouting for disabled youth. The decision of the council advancement committee should be recorded and delivered to the Scout and his leader.

(NOTE: The substitution of "trip" for "hike" in the footnote to Second Class requirement 1b does NOT require the procedure listed above. That substitution may be permitted by the unit leaders based on their understanding of the Scout's physical condition. ) 

Alternate Merit Badges for the Eagle Scout Rank

  1. The Eagle Scout rank may be achieved by a Boy Scout, Varsity Scout, or qualified Venturer who has a physical or mental disability by qualifying for alternate merit badges. This does not apply to individual requirements for merit badges. Merit badges are awarded only when all requirements are met as stated.
  2. The physical or mental disability must be of a permanent rather than a temporary nature.
  3. A clear and concise medical statement concerning the Scout's disabilities must be submitted by a physician licensed to practice medicine, or an evaluation statement must be certified by an educational administrator.
  4. The candidate must earn as many of the required merit badges as his ability permits before applying for an alternate Eagle Scout merit badge.
  5. The candidate must complete as many of the requirements of the required merit badges as his ability permits
  6. The Application for Alternate Eagle Scout Merit Badges must be completed prior to qualifying for alternate merit badges.
  7. The alternate merit badges chosen must be of such a nature that they are as demanding of effort as the required merit badges.
  8. When alternates chosen involve physical activity, they must be approved by the physician.
  9. The unit leader and the board of review must explain that to attain the Eagle Scout rank a candidate is expected to do his best in developing himself to the limit of his resources.
  10. The application must be approved by the council committee responsible for advancement, utilizing the expertise of professional persons involved in Scouting for the disabled.
  11. The candidate's application for Eagle must be made on the Eagle Scout Rank Application, with the Application for Alternate Eagle Scout Award Merit Badges attached.

Time Extensions

If a Scout or Venturer foresees that he will be unable to complete the requirements for the Eagle rank prior to his 18th birthday, he may file a petition in writing with the National Boy Scout Committee through the local council for special permission to continue to work toward the award after reaching age 18.  The petition also may be filed by the unit leader or unit committee.  The petition must show good and sufficient evidence and detail the extenuating circumstances that prevented the Scout from completing the requirements prior to his 18th birthday.  Extenuating circumstances are defined as conditions or situations that are totally beyond the control of the Scout or Venturer.  If circumstances should also prevent a Scout or Venturer from requesting the extension before he is 18, it is still permissible to ask for the extension, detailing the extenuating circumstances that prevented him from completing the requirements and from requesting the extension before age 18. Once again, if you have any questions or need advice, contact your District Advancement Chairperson or contact:

Britt Davis
Council Professional Advisor
jdavis@bsamail.org
816-569-4924