JustinBiship Frontside360
Photo credit: Thrasher Magazine

Skaters with Disabilities

Showing the Power of the Sport

When Justin Bishop was eight years old, he fell in love with skateboarding. He skated obsessively from then on, but in addition to his love for skating, Justin had something else— a disease known as retinitis pigmentosa. By the time he was 20, Justin couldn’t see well enough to drive. By 25, he was completely blind.

But what happened next is what sets Justin apart. Justin kept f***ing skateboarding. He knew he would fall down and get scraped up, he knew it wouldn’t be easy, but he also knew that he loved skateboarding and wasn’t ready to give it up. Period.

 

But Justin’s story doesn’t end there. He went a step further, turning his passion and experiences into new tech and a way to bring passion for skateboarding and life to other people around the world.

The Power of Skateboarding

As Justin faced the challenges of skateboarding while blind, friends started to look for ways to improve his experience and let him do even more.

A friend who works at Zappos introduced him to a beeper box, which was then adapted for Justin’s skating routine. The box is pretty much a straight line of speakers that act as a sonic barrier or line. When Justin’s skating and hears the beep, he knows to switch directions.

 

Justin himself made a special skateboarding cane with a free-rotating ball bearing he can roll along in front of him to figure out the curve or shape of the surface he’s riding. But Justin didn’t want to just improve his ability to keep skateboarding — he wanted to bring skateboarding to the lives of others, too.

But Justin isn’t the only one out there ripping. Dan Mancia and Marcelo Lusardi have faced similar adversity and continue to crush it on a daily basis. Like Justin, Dan and Marcel prove day in and day out you don’t need to see to shred and land tricks. All of these dudes take that age-old “no excuses’ saying to an entirely different level. 

The Ultimate Goal

The national governing body of skateboard culture, U.S.A. Skateboarding is pushing forward with an initiative to bring skating in the 2028 Paralympics, which would be dope! 

In the meantime, Justin Bishop now works at Sport Social as an ABA therapist. He teaches kids on various areas of the autism spectrum how to develop motor skills and social skills through the power of skateboarding. Kids at Sport Social who work with Justin are encouraged to chase their interests, passions, and dreams, rather than being limited by a diagnosis or condition.

Dan Mancia is crushing games of skate at The Berrics while continuing to shred and Marcelo is popping fakie sw 50-50s. 

It’s hard to imagine anything that embodies the spirit of skateboarding better than rebelling against limits the universe puts in place—seeing barriers the world is trying to create, and simply saying, “No.”