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.
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.
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 are these four areas can be agents of social change themselves. 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.
Wide open vistas, mountain wilderness and crystal clear lakes attract visitors from near and afar. But the very nature of these landscapes means they aren’t easily accessible to everyone. This is a situation where assistive technology meets universal design. Providing a specialised track wheelchair or beach wheelchair, for example, cannot do the job alone. It still needs an accessible travel chain.
Having an all-terrain wheelchair is only one part of the tourism experience. Apaper reporting on a case study of specialised mobility devices shows the importance of user testing. Getting in and out of the device, operating it, and being part of a group, all need testing for convenience and useability before they become part of the service. The authors used the principles of universal design in their study and sum up with the following:
The entire customer journey must be accessible: toilets, parking, cafes, cable car, etc.
Transfers must be supervised by trained staff
Trails must be tested, marked and secured
Emergency procedures set up in case of an accident
Training courses for tourism service staff in the use of assistive technology
The devices are expensive and hiring might be a better option
Tourist destinations based on the natural environment can be inclusive if there is joined up thinking. That is, joining up service delivery and staff training with the physical environment and, at times, the addition of some assistive technologies.
The title of the articleis, Improving the Accessibility of Touristic Destinations with an Assistive Technology For Hiking – Applying Universal Design Principles Through Service Design. The article mentions the Freedom Trax device and the video below shows the device in action. Courtesy their Facebook page.
Abstract: Accessible Tourism focus on the logistical attributes being accessible to all and on the process to develop accessible products and services with all stakeholders of the touristic destination. Assistive technologies can be used to improve the accessibility of touristic destination and attraction. Some assistive technologies are designed for hiking. However, their integration on the customer journey has to be designed as a service. To this end, universal design principles and guidelines can be used to design products and services accessible to all. Universal design and accessible tourism are both rooted in the social model of disability, which states that it is the society who is disabling. The potential and the conceptualization of applying universal design principles for tourism has been widely discussed. However, little has been done to operationalize this idea. In this article, we demonstrate how to cocreate with users an accessible touristic service based on an assistive technology who enables hiking for people using wheelchairs. Our main findings illustrate the pros and the cons of using and assistive technologies and the importance of considering the whole customer journey to improve the accessibility of touristic destinations.
We all like to get our message across. Communication access is just as important as physical access. So what are the communication barriers that some people face? It might be reading, understanding spoken language or having difficulties speaking. So the way that signs and written communication are designed are as important as well-trained staff.
Camp Manyung has been a leader in inclusive youth camp facilities and activities. Now they have increased their level of inclusiveness by gaining communication accreditation from SCOPE. Reception staff and activity staff can now communicate with everyone throughout the camp experience. Staff wear the international communication symbol so that they are easily recognised by visitors.
The current theory and practice of outdoor environmental education is rarely includes the voices of marginalised people and communities. So writes Karen Warren and Mary Breunig. They argue that the historical background of white privileged males in this field still underpins current thinking. The arguments and thinking in this paper could be applied in other educational settings and the broader community. At the end of the paper they advise that instructors should use the language that students use to self-identify:
“Critically conscious use of language in educational environments can prevent the othering of students who self-identify outside normative boundaries. Asking all participants to share their preferred gender pronouns can prevent the misgendering of students. Mirroring the language that students use to name their identity allows the educator to advocate for inclusion. In a canoe trip for queer students one author recently led, participants were given an opportunity to self identify if they chose to. Even within the queer community, there was a diversity of identity – gender non-binary, lesbian, questioning ally, and trans- and cisgender gay were some of the responses. Educators aware of the power of language to oppress by renaming, disnaming, and misnaming participants will consider adopting the words students use to refer to themselves.”
Having fun in the sand and surf is the iconic Australian pastime. But not everyone gets an opportunity to join in the fun. The Association of Consultants in Access, Australia newsletter features articles and case studies on beach access, sailing, a resort for people with spinal cord injury, and provisions for people with autism. Plus the general news of the association. The articles mainly feature specialist activities and designs, such as the resort. But that is all part of creating an inclusive society.
It’s a simple thing and doesn’t always take much to achieve. The British Beer & Pub Association has a straightforward booklet of advice and good case studies for accessibility. It dispels a lot of myths, and many of the adaptations are simple, such as easy to read menus. It covers physical, sensory and cognitive issues that potential customers might have. So joke-type symbols for toilets are not a good idea, as well as understanding that not all disabilities are visible. Excellent resource for any food and beverage venue. As is often the case, it is not rocket science or costly, just thoughtful.
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