Adaptive Paddling Curriculum 

ACA Adaptive Paddling Program
Since 1990, the ACA has led the adaptive recreation industry, training instructors and program providers in the best practices of inclusive paddlesports.
Supporting and enhancing the decades strong ACA National Paddlesport Instruction Program, the Adaptive Paddling Program teaches the skills and knowledge needed to outfit equipment and modify teaching styles to allow people of all abilities to participate in paddlesport activities as safely, as comfortably, and with the same performance potential as all others.

Adaptive Paddling Workshops
At the core of the ACA Adaptive Program, Adaptive Paddling Workshops (APWs) provide the information necessary to seamlessly integrate individuals with physical disabilities into outdoor recreation programs in the context of paddlesports.  APWs focus on five key topics: (1) Language, Etiquette and Interaction, (2) The Legal Context, (3) Cultivating Seamless Integration, (4) Adaptive Outfitting Concepts & Goals, and (5) Mechanics of Adaptive Outfitting for Paddlesports.  APW involve hands-on learning in both a classroom and in calm, protected waters.
These workshops are designed to provide instructors, outfitters, recreation program providers, and rehabilitation professionals with the information they need to integrate paddlers with disabilities into programs.  Under the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990, a person may not be excluded from a program just because they have a disability.  Program providers need to be prepared to integrate persons with disabilities into existing programs.   

APW have a three-fold purpose:

  • Provide ACA instructors an opportunity to earn the Adaptive Paddling Instructor Endorsement
  • Provide non-ACA instructors an opportunity to earn the ACA Certificate of Completion
  • Provide a skills course for individuals with disabilities

Certificate of Completion

  • For non-ACA certified instructors 
  • Nationally recognized documentation of successful completion of the APW
  • Evidence of training to integrate adaptive theory and techniques into your program
  • Certificate of Completion does not allow you to teach as an ACA certified instructor

Instructor Endorsement

  • For currently certified ACA Paddling Instructors
  • Additional credentialing on your current ACA instructor certification
  • APW can be used once as the Update portion of your ACA Instructor certification maintenance requirements for all ACA paddling disciplines except Safety and Rescue
  • In order to lead the ACA 2 or 4 day APW you must be an Adaptive Paddling Instructor Trainer

Adaptive Paddling Instructor Trainer

  • Adaptive Paddling Instructor Trainers are certified to lead 2 or 4 day APW and have authority to issue Adaptive Paddling credentials (Certificate of Completion and Instructor Endorsements)
  • To start an Instructor Trainer candidacy you must first be a currently certified ACA Instructor with the Adaptive Paddling Endorsement for 2 years
  • Adaptive Paddling Instructor Trainer candidacy is a mentoring process that is completed over multiple APWs in different venues
  • During the mentoring process you must successfully demonstrate all criteria in the Guide to Becoming and Adaptive Paddling Instructor Trainer

Additional Information


  • Adaptive Paddling Instructor Endorsement Criteria (PDF)
  • Guide to Hosting an APW (2-Day / 4-Day)
  • Guide to Becoming an Adaptive Paddling Instructor Trainer (Word / PDF)
The American Kayaking Association (AKA) is in no way associated or affiliated with the American Canoe Association (ACA), whatsoever. However, the AKA offers ACA programs through certified ACA instructors; following the guidelines and protocal set forth by the ACA. our goals, passion and devotion to educating the general public is no different.