Brisbane 2032: Legacy Strategy

Large scale events such as the Olympic and Paralympic Games are contentious because of the cost of preparation. However, with careful planning, these events can leave a legacy of lasting benefits for communities. That’s the aim of the Brisbane 2032 Legacy Strategy.

Vision: “By 2042, we will live in an inclusive, sustainable and connected society, with more opportunities in life for everyone.”  

A green background with the text for the vision for Elevate 2042 in white.

Universal design is mentioned throughout the document as an underpinning principle for inclusion and accessibility as if they are inherently the same thing. Consequently, the language defaults to “universal accessibility”. This term is often interpreted as meeting disability access standards in the built environment, which do not guarantee inclusive outcomes.

Similar to other policy documents, universal design is explained at the very end. If universal design is an underpinning principle of all aspects of the Games, it should be at the front of the document. Nevertheless, “universal design” is found under each of the focus areas.

Focus of the strategy

The strategy focuses on society, economy, connectivity and environment. The strategy, titled Elevate 2042, uses the Paralympic Games as the platform for “advancing accessibility and empowering people with disability”.

“Elevate 2042 is the catalyst to create a truly inclusive society
for all. From universal design underpinning everything we build to providing sport for
every Queensland child with a disability, I cannot wait to see what we have achieved by 2042.” Dr Bridie Kean

A diagrammatic wheel showing how the focus areas link together for the Brisbane 2032 strategy.

Inclusion and accessibility

By definition, the Paralympic Games must be inclusive and accessible. However, the concepts should be considered across all aspects of both Games. Co-design processes are mentioned in relation to people with disability but not other marginalised groups.

The key points listed on the Paralympics Australia website for “Advancing accessibility and empowering people with disability” are:

  • People with disability can participate fully in the community
  • And have a voice on housing, transport, education, employment and sport
  • With accessible, inclusive sports infrastructure and events
  • Queensland’s Disability Plan 2022-2027: Together, a Better Queensland
  • Australia’s Disability Strategy 2021-2031
Members of Paralympics Australia are posing for a group photo.

Image from the Paralympics Australia website

Wayfinding by pictures

The Nambour Aquatic Centre has a website that uses pictures to help people to find their way once they reach the facility. It’s done through a simple app on the computer. Wayfinding by pictures is not a new idea, but it is a universally designed idea. Google Map’s street view is obviously catering for a broad audience, so why not other organisations?

Cérge is a communications platform – a digital concierge. It helps organisations provide personalised service to customers with disability. That means it’s also good for everyone.

Aerial view of the Nambour Aquatic Centre - wayfinding by pictures.

Wayfinding by pictures is useful for everyone, but especially useful for people who like to know something about a place before they get there. It’s not just knowing what a place looks like, it is about feeling safe and in control.

The visual story

The visual story begins with the arrival at the aquatic centre with pictures of the car park and pathway to the building. Then there is a section on Sounds, Smells, Feeling, and Sights that you might experience. For example, hearing birds chirping, car smells, the weather, and shaded areas.

Next are pictures of the entry showing the arrival area and the kiosk and a view through to the swimming pool area. These are accompanied by the same four sensory aspects. More pictures show the pool and splash park, along with expected sights and sounds. Images of the indoor pool and the assistive equipment complete the visual tour.

While the content of the website is intended to help people with disability, the website design requires more thought. It requires left to right scrolling as well us up and down scrolling. And there is little information about whether the place is inclusive and accessible to all. Nevertheless, it is a useful example on how to add value to a website with wayfinding by pictures.

Connecting with nature and heritage

We know that connecting with nature is essential for our mental and physical health. The recent pandemic made that clear. Creating accessible parks and wilderness areas is more than just considering how a wheelchair user might navigate the terrain. Different people have different ways of connecting with nature that is meaningful for them.

A report for the National Trust in the UK brings together practical information about accessibility for different groups of people. The report is based on a new site acquired by the National Trust in Lincolnshire. Image is of Sandilands Beach (National Trust)

The sun is setting over the ocean at Sandilands beach where people are connecting with nature.

Age, cultural background, socioeconomic status and disability are all considered in the report’s practical considerations. The focus is on the accessibility of external spaces because the overall focus is on access to nature.

The report covers detail on the usual elements such as:

  • Easy to navigate website with relevant access information
  • Lighting around key facilities
  • Toilets that can accommodate mobility scooters and wheelchairs, and relief areas for dogs
  • Signage and maps of walks and paths
A small white dog being walked on a path at Sandilands.

Parking, transport and toilets have more detail along with paths and routes.

Paths and routes

Footway treatments are especially important as well as providing multiple paths so that visitors can choose the most suitable one. In the UK the Fieldfare Trust has a guide for different types and specifications for footpaths in different locations. They cover everything from peri-urban to wilderness. Disabled Ramblers have three categories of paths that they use to describe routes and paths.

The report goes into more detail about path surfaces, widths, gradients and accessible gates. Benches, shelters, bridges, boardwalks and viewing platforms are covered as well.

Connecting with nature

This section of the report covers the diverse range of visitors and how they best connect with nature. The section of age, covers the different needs of children, adolescents and older adults. Little is known why certain ethnic minority groups are less likely to use green spaces. However, they are more likely to use them in groups rather than alone. People with lower incomes visit green spaces less often and more needs to be done to change this.

Lack of access to transport to green space is a key barrier for people with disability. Physical barriers are also a problem but the way that service people treat them is another downside to visiting nature.

The report ends with a list of recommendations covering all the issues discussed earlier in the document. The title of the report is, Nature Connectivity and Accessibility. A report for the National Trust.

Children like it green

A group of children are walking along a path in a nature park.

A Danish study used satellite data to show a link between growing up near green space and issues with mental health in adulthood. They found that children under 10 years who had greater access to green space may grow up to be happier adults. The FastCo article goes on to say that data was correlated between the child’s proximity to green space during childhood and that same person’s mental health later in life. The more green space they had access to, the less likely they were to have mental health issues later.

The FastCo article is titled, “Kids surrounded by greenery may grow up to be happier adults“. Researchers at Aahus University carried out the research. Their paper is titled, Being surrounded by green space in childhood may improve mental health of adults

Explaining inclusive sport with videos

Two young men each with one leg and using crutches, compete for the football on the football field. Inclusive sport.

The Inclusive Sport Design website has some good resources, namely videos, blog posts and other useful material. Newly added to the resource list are four short videos explaining inclusive sport.

Inclusive sport program planning and framework briefly explains the key elements to planning an effective and sustainable inclusive sport program.

Adapt and modify with TREE. A framework for adapting and modifying sport activities for a range of capabilities.

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 for whole communities

Artist impression of new home for Matildas and also the whole community..
Photo courtesy Football Victoria

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. 

The focus of Belinda Goh’s presentation for the NSW Office of Sport webinar was two case studies. The designs were underpinned with a universal design approach using extensive community engagement strategies. Co-creation and co-design were essential to the success of the designs. 

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. 

Considering culture

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. 

The title of the paper is, Development of Aerobic Exercise Equipment Using Universal Design: Treadmill and Arm Ergometer

 

Accessible nature

A rocky mountain scene from the Atacama Desert in Chile. This was not accessible nature. Photo by Jane Bringolf
Valle de Luna, Atacama, Chile

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 title of the scoping review is, Accessible nature beyond city limits – A scoping review. The authors are based in Canada.

Abstract

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.

Photo by Jane Bringolf

Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games: A legacy

Arial view of the park at twilight that highlights the green grass of the three main stadia. Sydney Paralympic Games.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 and the 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. 

 

Athletics clubs can be inclusive

Summer is on a grass track and is running in a track lane. Athletics clubs can be inclusive.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 video in the series showing how football brings together people from different cultural backgrounds. 

Sport for inclusion – making it happen

Footballers on the field from the Mosaic Metros Futsal Club.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.

 

Inclusive art, tourism, sport and recreation report

An assistance dog leans down towards a swimmer in the water at the side of the pool. Inclusive art, sport and recreation.
Assistance animals are a strategy for inclusion.

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.

A report for the Victorian Government identifies the issues and provides recommendations in relation to these areas of activity. The report was underpinned by three principles. Inclusive policy:

      1. occurs within an inclusive model framework
      2. works best if implemented as a whole-of-government initiative
      3. 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 comprehensive report with key recommendations linked to conclusions. Although published in 2012, many recommendations are still pending across Australia. The title of the report is, Inclusive Arts, Tourism, Sport and Recreation for People with a Disability: Ways Forward Report. Deakin University carried out the research.  

A related publication by Simon Darcy looks at barriers to participation in sport. It can be downloaded from ResearchGate.

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