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Disability

Sport benefits everyone in the community, regardless of ability. However people with disability generally have fewer opportunities to participate in sport than their able-bodied peers.

Some clubs may think people with disability are unwilling or unable to be included; others may recognise the desire and ability amongst people with disability, but aren’t sure how to include them.

Other clubs may have opportunities available or can adapt to meet the needs of people with disability, but don’t promote this to their community.

Inclusion of people with disability is about providing access to a range of quality opportunities and options. Embracing diversity and creating greater awareness can lead to better inclusion of people with disability in sport.

What club committees can do

  • Talk to your state/national body – many have policies, programs and initiatives that encourage everyone including people with disability to be involved in your sport
  • As a committee, be committed to sport for all - diversity and inclusion
  • Ensure there is diversity on your committee/board
  • Have the right policies in place – including member protection, harassment, discrimination, codes of conduct
  • Provide a welcoming and inclusive environment – all club members value diversity, cultural and religious differences and inclusive practises
  • Use the tips, links and resources below.

Adopt an inclusive philosophy

  • People with disability are willing and able to be included in sport and physical activity
  • Every person, whether able-bodied or a person with disability, varies widely in ability and skill levels
  • People with disability are individuals and to group all participants according to skill or ability, rather than whether or not they have a disability
  • Don’t make assumptions about a person’s abilities. If you’re not sure what someone can do just ask!
  • Be mindful of the venue and facilities used. Check accessibility and, if relevant, whether appropriate structures are in place to assist with physical access, i.e. ground level, ramps and hand rails, and inform participants of these.

How inclusive is your club? Checklist for club committees

  • Is your club accessible – physically, socially and financially? What assistance, if any, do people with disability require (i.e. to get to the venue; to be involved)?
  • What roles in club life can people with disability play – participant, coach, official or committee member, etc?
  • Does your sport or activity already have a modified version? Can rules, equipment, playing area or teaching style be modified in a way that everyone can be included and the integrity of the activity is retained?
  • What opportunities for inclusion can you provide – full integration, parallel or disability-specific?
  • Is there an identified need in your community and what capacity do you have to include people with disability in club activities?
  • Is there expertise at your club, state/national body or in the community to review your club's practices and develop new opportunities to participate?
  • Utilise existing networks and partnership opportunities - who can assist you to provide opportunities and create greater awareness of inclusion of people with disability?
  • Be aware of how your club is marketed i.e. ‘competition’ may be too alienating for some who prefer a less threatening more social inclusive, fun environment
  • Upskill club members about diversity, cultural differences and inclusive practices. See resources below.

Keep in mind that there is no single inclusion model that will fit all clubs. Action plans, designed with your club’s specific circumstances and objectives in mind, can ensure that inclusion becomes part of your club culture and fits comfortably within the overall objectives of your club.

Inclusive coaching

Many people think that you need special skills or knowledge to coach participants with disability. This is not the case. The basic skills of good coaching, when applied with an inclusive philosophy, will ensure the inclusion of all participants, including people with disability, becomes a natural part of coaching. Some activities may need to be modified when coaching participants with disability, but the basic principles of coaching remain the same.

Club committees can encourage coaches to adapt and modify aspects of their coaching and create an environment that caters for individual needs and allows everyone to take part. Qualities and skills of an inclusive coach:

  • Patience: Recognise some participants will take longer to develop skills or make progress than others
  • Respect: Acknowledge difference and treat all participants as individuals
  • Adaptability: Have a flexible approach to coaching and communication that recognise individual differences
  • Organisation: Recognise the importance of preparation and planning
  • Safe practices: Ensure every session, whether with groups or individuals, is carried out with the participants’ safety in mind
  • Knowledge: Utilise knowledge of training activities and how to modify them in order to maximise the potential of every participant.

More information

People with a disability and sport

Play by the Rules

Clearinghouse for Sport - connecting people in sport to a world of ideas, experiences and knowledge

Coaching people with disability

Events

Disability Discrimination

Disability standards

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