What is the inclusion spectrum? This is a framework for describing all the way people with disability can participate in sport. There is a link to more information on the YouTube page.
What is universal design? Repeats the 1990s definition and principles from the North Carolina State University. Unfortunately it doesn’t relate specifically to inclusive sport. Rather, it is yet another video with the old definition and principles.
Note that Inclusive Sport Design is a for-profit organisation. However, they offer free advice via the website.
Sports facilities are moving beyond a changing room and narrow benches for spectators. Larger sports facilities are being designed for whole communities, not just sports teams. It has to be a social, economic and environmental investment. Belinda Goh from Populous provides some insights into the design processes behind two case studies. They cover cultural diversity, connection to country and including women in the design of sports facilities.
Goh explained that sports facilities should integrate community and grassroots activities with these projects. She uses examples of major professional sports teams bringing women into elite sports. So she is talking beyond standard design thinking to deliberately designing women into these facilities. But this made for more inclusive facilities overall.
Goh discusses how beginning with a focus on including women has matured into an approach for all Populous’ designs. It is about being more inclusive, equitable and universal in their approach. She says it also about going beyond access codes to making people feel like they belong.
In a second case study she discusses the new multi-use sports facility on the mid north coast of NSW. This project posed some additional challenges. It involved delving into the “why” of the project and significant community engagement. The area has a high Indigenous population as well as the largest Sikh population outside India.
Apart from consulting with sports organisations, they talked with people from arts, youth, and the nearby high school among others. In considering the culture of the spaces they also included the concepts of universal design and access to all spaces.
Belinda Goh’s presentation is engaging and worth a look in the video below.
There is more on the ABC news website about the Matilda’s new home. Well, not so much a new home but a first home. The facility will also house a sports science centre, a gym and recovery rooms.
Gym equipment designed for disability
A team of industrial designers have used a universal design approach to creating gym equipment. Their paper explains their process, but more importantly, there are images of various designs for aerobic equipment. A great addition to any gym but essential for disability sports organisations.
Are ableist views preventing the tourism and recreation sectors from being accessible and inclusive? This is a question arising from a scoping review of policies, practices and infrastructure related to nature-based settings. The review found many barriers were related to operator or designer assumptions about the value of the experience for people with different disabilities. And “accessible nature” is yet to be expressed in the form of access standards.
Assumptions about value such as “this place is about the view, so why would blind people be interested?” is rarely explicitly expressed. Rather, it is embedded in systems and processes that place barriers, albeit inadvertently, to accessibility for all. But other barriers exist such as threats to conservation values that say, a footpath could impose. Consequently, ways to minimise the negative impacts on both social and ecological aspects should be found when introducing built structures.
A more worrying view is that it is not safe for people with disability to experience certain landscapes. This perpetuates organisational notions that people with disability need extra care or special settings. Or that people with disability can’t or don’t experience nature in the same way as non-disabled people.
From the conclusions
In the conclusions, the authors lament, “Perhaps more troublingly, there are indications that such gaps are intertwined in cultures within the tourism and recreation sector that perpetuate ablest views of what should be considered a genuine and laudable way to experience nature.”
The authors conclude there is a pressing need for specific standards for nature-based tourism and recreation spaces. People developing such standards should ensure they are not underpinned by current ableist views.
The health and wellbeing factors of nature contact are well established. So, it’s important for everyone to have easy access to the experiences nature offers.
The health and well-being benefits of nature contact are well known, but inequitably distributed across society. Focusing on the access needs of persons with a disability, the purpose of this study was to systematically examine research on the accessibility of nature-based tourism and recreation spaces outside of urban/community settings.
Following a scoping review methodology, this study sought to examine policies, services, physical infrastructures, and regulatory standards intended to enable equitable use of nature-based settings by individuals of all ages and abilities, particularly persons with a disability.
In total, 41 relevant studies were identified and analyzed. Findings indicate that there are considerable gaps in the provision of services and information that enable self-determination in the use and enjoyment of nature, and that accessibility in nature-based settings is conceptualized through three interrelated policy/design pathways: the adaptation pathway, the accommodation pathway, and the universal design pathway.
As a whole, accessibility policy and standards research specific to natural settings outside of urban/community settings is highly limited.
Management implications There are growing calls to promote inclusive nature experiences in tourism and recreation spaces outside of community settings. Management of such spaces must reconcile equity concerns with a host of other priorities like environmental conservation.
In the case of promoting universal accessibility, few studies offer insight into the detailed standards that must be met to create barrier-free access, let alone how to integrate such standards with other management priorities.
Transdisciplinary research partnerships that involve management personnel, environmental and public health researchers, and persons with a disability are needed to identify effective management synergies.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of what was considered the “most accessible games ever”. That means both events – Sydney 2000 Olympic and Paralympic Games. It set the standard for others to follow. The London Paralympic Games claimed the “most accessible” title in 2012. But what of the legacies of these Games?
Several research papers have looked at the legacies of Olympic and Paralympic Games. Simon Darcy charts the whole process andthe disability politics of the Sydney Games. Raju Mahto connects tourism with Olympic Games to show how accessibility supports both the event, the legacy and tourism for all. His paper, “Games Events, Accessible Tourism – A Mile to Go with Special Reference of Paralympics”, has some key findings that apply to any major event. By taking a universal design approach Mahto recommends:
Tourism operators must understand the needs of customers who have a disability
Accommodation establishments should have several accessible rooms
Public transportations systems should consider parallel services and ensure easy access to transport hubs
Tourism operators need to partner with Games organisers, the community and the private sector.
Other findings, that many of us are aware of, were that
Paralympic Games show how people with disability can participate as athletes not just spectators.
Post Games, Olympians can act as brand ambassadors for legacy in the long term and help raise awareness of the capabilities of people with disability.
Universal design should include all possible assistive devices where individual assistance is needed.
Events cannot be declared successful without a planned legacy in terms of ongoing strategic vision for the site and venue to remain accessible.
Paralympic Games bring social and practical improvements for accessibility and for personal and professional development.
The Sydney Olympic Park Authority (SOPA) continues the legacy to this day. The Access Committee formed during the lead up to the Games continues on and is now called the Access and Inclusion Leadership Committee. It has overseen many improvements in inclusive sport and other events as well as the built environment.
Editor’s Comment: I was fortunate to be involved with the accessibility of many Games venues during my time with the Independent Living Centre NSW. I have followed the fortunes of this site since. As a member of the SOPA Access and Inclusion Leadership Committee I contribute to the continuous improvement process of doing more than compliance and applying universal design principles.
Australians love sport and embrace all athletes including para athletes. But how do they get a start if clubs don’t give them a go? The Hills Athletics Academy has found how to adjust its coaching program to suit individual athletes so that they can achieve their best. Athletics clubs can be inclusive.
A video featuring para-athlete Summer Giddings and her coach Matt Rawlings shows how it can be done. Matt makes this comment, “I just treated her like a normal person – which at the end of the day – she is a normal person.” He says the experience helps him as a coach as well. Summer says, “It’s not hard for clubs to be inclusive.”
There is another videoin the series showing how football brings together people from different cultural backgrounds.
Inclusion isn’t just about people with disability or impairments. It means everyone. Inclusion should also embrace the full diversity of being human. Refugees and migrants are a case in point. Sport is embedded in Australian culture, but it also has a common language. So sport is a good way to start the inclusion process. But where to begin? Some good ideas come by way of a new video series – Inclusion in Action.
The video below is from the perspective of participants, their coaches, and program organisers. It features the Mosaic Metros Futsal Club telling us the story of how they started and what they have achieved. One participants says how being part of the team makes him feel welcome. The team manager explains how members of an enthno-specific team can move onto integrating into other teams. He also says not to rush the process.
What’s involved in making arts, tourism, sport and recreation more inclusive? It’s more than just creating accessible venues and destinations.It requires a broad view of the issues and ways to implement inclusive practice. Policies with action plans to overcome attitudinal and systemic barriers are a start.
Areport for the Victorian Governmentidentifies the issues and provides recommendations in relation to these areas of activity. The report was underpinned by three principles. Inclusive policy:
occurs within an inclusive model framework
works best if implemented as a whole-of-government initiative
seeks to build healthy communities by providing opportunities for arts, tourism, sport and recreation being provided for all people.
Among the conclusions, this model can be an agent of social change. That is, they can show the way for other sectors to be inclusive. Barriers to inclusion were identified as institutional, physical, economic and attitudinal. Being inclusive at the planning stage of any project, activity or service is also a way forward.
Recommendations include the need for institutional policies on inclusion, accurate information for people with disability, and targeted intervention strategies to address barriers to inclusion. There’s more in the report.
A design guide for inclusive leisure facilities is an excellent resource for designers, policy makers and municipal authorities. Lots of drawings and graphics provide design guidance and highlight the key points. Using the principles of universal design means that it is not a standardised design template.
Privacy and comfort for all users is one of the key elements. Mixed gender spaces for caregivers and parents with young children are also important. Local cultural customs also need to be considered. The classic gender segregation of space has already evolved into more universal space because of disability legislation.
The guideaddresses confusion over language and terminology, use of space and general design principles. The title of the guide is, Designing for Inclusivity: Strategies for Universal Washrooms and Change Rooms in Community and Recreation Facilities. It covers: inclusivity for families, people with disability, transgender and non-binary people, privacy, increased efficiency and forward thinking design. The principles are:
1. Strive for inclusivity and access for all 2. Use openness to enhance safety through activity and shared monitoring 3. Create privacy where most needed to enhance comfort 4. Welcome everyone with signage that emphasizes function and is clear, inclusive, and positive 5. Ensure supportive staff operations and communications
What does washroom and change room design have to do with social justice? Darryl Condon answers this question in a Pools and Leisure Magazine article. He has a good grasp of all the relevant design issues across the diversity and inclusion spectrum for universally designed leisure facilities.
The advice and information is explained using a universal design approach, which makes it relevant to other public facilities. Condon lists five design strategies that designers can take away. At the end of the article he advises that with any new facility, a diverse group of users should be consulted. A very thoughtful articlein this international magazine published via issuu. It has other articles of interest to designers and architects.
The article, Designing for Inclusivity: Strategies for universal washrooms and change rooms in community sport and recreation facilities, is on page 48. Pictures and graphics are a nice addition.
The article begins: “What does washroom and change room design have to do with social justice? A great deal. As architects, we must consider the social impact resulting from all aspects of our work. Universal washrooms and change rooms are increasingly crucial in the design of recreation and sport facilities and are one element in our approach to more impactful design”.
Theme park rides often have rules about who can ride based on body size, health conditions and ability. But these rules are sometimes needlessly excluding. Ride manufacturers produce a manual for the park owners with very broad references to disability. These rules are set with the idea of protecting riders. But are these needed? With enough information most people would self select their theme park rides.
A new paper reports on the accident rates for ride attractions and found that obesity, not usually mentioned in the rules, is responsible for more accidents than those for people with disability. The analysis found that restrictive criteria exclude people with disabilities broadly, while permitting other vulnerable populations to self-determine their participation. Publicly available injury data do not provide evidence to justify the extent of mandatory exclusion.
Using information from 100 amusement ride manufacturers’ manuals, the article reports on eligibility criteria and safety for people with disability, and where disability is reported in an injury. The conclusion is that people with disability are excluded more often than is warranted. “There is no clear evidence that people with disabilities are at undue risk when permitted to self-select”. However, they will need appropriate information so they can make the right decision.