Maryland schools are giving students with disabilities unique new access to the world of school sports, thanks to a first-of-its-kind law.

Under the Fitness and Athletic Equity Act for Students with Disabilities passed in 2008, Maryland public schools are required to provide students with disabilities the opportunity to try out and play on mainstream school sports teams. School staff must provide accommodations for these students to participate so long as the alterations don’t fundamentally change the game.

Though schools aren’t required to comply until July 2011, many have already begun offering opportunities to special education students through so-called corollary leagues. This spring high schoolers are playing softball in the new leagues, which serve as counterparts to traditional school varsity and JV programs. Most students playing corollary softball have disabilities, but many of the teams allow typically developing students to participate so-long as they have not played the sport for one of their high school’s more competitive squads.

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For special needs students, the new teams offer a unique school opportunity many thought they would never get to enjoy. Participants have a range of disabilities, everything from behavioral problems to physical impairments and as new sports are added and people become more familiar with the leagues the teams are expected to grow, reports The Washington Post. To read more click here.