Though individual requirements for merit badges may not be modified or substituted, youth with special needs may request approval for alternative badges they can complete. This is allowable on the basis of one entire badge for another. To qualify, a Scout or qualified Venturer or Sea Scout must have a permanent physical or cognitive disability, or a disability expected to last more than two years, or beyond age 18. The member does not need to be registered beyond the age of eligibility. Before applying, the Scout must earn as many of the Eagle-required merit badges as possible. However, where a permanent disability clearly precludes completing specific merit badges, a Scout who has earned at least First Class may apply for an alternative merit badge without waiting until all other Eagle-required merit badges are complete. Any alternatives must present the same challenge and learning level as those they replace, and must be completed by the 18th birthday unless the member is registered beyond the age of eligibility (see “Registering Qualified Members Beyond Age of Eligibility,” 10.1.0.0).
Upon finishing the Eagle-required merit badges that are possible, the Scout, with his or her parent or guardian, reviews the details covered on page 1 of the Application for Alternative Eagle Scout Rank Merit Badges, which is posted on the Advancement Resources web page at http://www.scouting.org/advancement. The completed application form is sent first to the district advancement committee and is then routed to the council advancement committee. It must be accompanied by supporting letters from the unit leader, a parent or guardian, and the Scout (if possible), as well as a written statement from a qualified health professional related to the nature of the disability. This may be, for example, a physician, neurologist, psychiatrist, psychologist, etc., or when appropriate, an educational administrator in special education. Statements must describe the disability; cover the Scout’s capabilities, limitations, and prognosis; and outline why the merit badge(s) cannot be completed. Additional information such as Individualized Education Plans provided to parents by schools, and various treatment summaries and reports, may help an advancement committee make an informed decision. All alternative badges should be included on just one form
Scouts with special needs must complete all merit badge requirements as written. No substitutions for individual requirements are allowed.
The council advancement committee reviews the application, using the expertise of professionals involved with youth who have disabilities. To make a fair determination, the committee may want to interview the Scout, the Scout’s parent(s) or guardian(s), and the unit leader. The committee’s decision should be recorded and delivered to the Scout and the unit leader. Once this is done, the Scout may begin working with a merit badge counselor on the approved alternative merit badges. These must not be merit badges previously earned.
When applying for the Eagle Scout rank, a candidate with disabilities must attach the Eagle Scout Rank application to the approved Application for Alternate Eagle Scout Rank Merit Badges. The form can be found at http://www.scouting.org/scoutsource/BoyScouts/AdvancementandAwards/resources.aspx.
Source: 2021 Guide to Advancement Section 10.2.2.3 page 79
The Eagle Scout rank may be achieved by a Scouts BSA, Varsity Scout, or qualified* Venturer who has a physical or mental disability by qualifying for alternative merit badges. This does not apply to individual requirements for merit badges. Merit badges are awarded only when all requirements are met as stated. See the Guide to Advancement, topic 10.2.2.3, for details.
The physical or mental disability must be of a permanent rather than of a temporary nature (or a disability expected to last more than two years or beyond the 18th birthday). This request must include a written statement from a qualified health-care professional related to the nature of the disability. This person may be a physician, neurologist, psychiatrist, psychologist, etc., or an educational administrator as appropriate.
Before applying, the Scout or Venturer must earn as many of the Eagle-required merit badges as possible. Any alternatives must present the same challenge and learning level as those they replace, and must be completed by the 18th birthday.
- 1. Obtain a clear and concise statement related to the nature of the disability from a qualified health-care professional.
- 2. The unit leader meets with the candidate and their parent or guardian to determine the alternative merit badges to replace those impeding their progression.
- 3. The unit leader, parent or guardian, and the Scout (if possible) prepare supporting letters to accompany the application.
- 4. The district and council advancement committees, in turn, review the proposed alternative merit badges. They may choose to speak with the Scout, their parent or guardian, or unit leader. If the council advancement committee approves, then the candidate may start work on the merit badges.
Note: In approving the application, the district and council advancement committees must utilize the expertise of a health-care professional involved with youth who have disabilities.
- 5. Upon completion of the Eagle Scout rank requirements, using the alternative merit badges, the candidate appears before a board of review. This approved application must be attached to the Eagle Scout Rank Application.
- 6. Following a successful board of review, the council processes both applications and forwards them to the national Advancement Team. Local council action on alternative merit badges does not require national approval.
THE PURPOSE OF THE EAGLE SCOUT AWARD
A recipient of the Eagle Scout Award is a Scouts BSA, Varsity Scout, or qualified Venturer or Sea Scout who applies the principles of the
Scout Oath and Law in their daily life. They have achieved the qualities below with determination and persistence.
• Capacity for leadership and a concern for others
• Ability to help others through skills they have learned
• Ability to live and work cooperatively with others by meeting their responsibility to their unit
• Concern for self by improving their physical fitness to the limits of their resources
(Source: Alternate Eagle Scout Rank Merit Badges 512-730)