Melbourne’s La Trobe University has developed a new online tool to make it easier for sporting groups in the community to provide more accessible and inclusive programs for people with disabilities.
The Disability Resource was developed with input from disability groups and provides online training and support for sporting and recreation organisations to help them involve and engage people with a disability.
Resources include advice on activities and program delivery as well as disability awareness and accessibility training.
La Trobe Sport Management expert Dr Pam Kappelides says many people with disabilities face challenges accessing sports facilities that other members of the community take for granted. Barriers can vary from not being able to enter a facility to not being able to use the equipment provided.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, approximately 18.5 percent of the population had a disability in 2016, and 60 percent of these people did not participate in sport.
With participation in sport shown to have significant benefits for individuals and communities in terms of health, wellbeing and social cohesion, the tool aims to help sport become accessible.
“The Disability Resource is a great way for sport and recreation organisations to become more inclusive of the wider community, and for people with disabilities to make those connections more easily,” Dr Kappelides says.
“Now it will be a lot easier to find programs or activities adapted for people with disabilities. We expect this will boost participation in sport and recreational activities and to develop a sense of belonging to their community.”
“Having the resources online also means that it can be updated with new materials regularly...there are new ideas and research happening all the time, so we will update the website as they become available,” she adds.
Paralympic medallist and La Trobe PhD graduate Hannah Macdougall helped develop the materials as she knows first-hand the power of sport to change people’s lives.
Dr Macdougall says, “sport has always been a major part of my life. I transitioned from swimming to cycling in 2010, and I love it. Cycling is the closest I get to freedom and to flying.”
Dr Macdougall, who holds a doctorate in Athlete Well-Being from La Trobe, says The Disability Resource would make it easier for people with disabilities to find the best sport for them.
“I always say to people that if you get disheartened in the first sport that you try, try something else, and remember to have fun, because that’s why we do it.”
The Disability Resource information can be accessed online.