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EFDS OPENS MORE DOORS

3rd December 2013

(Source: EFDS)

EFDS guide helps sport to open more doors for disabled people on International Day of Disabled People

A guide to improve access for disabled people in sports clubs has been revealed on International Day of Disabled People. “Access for All: Opening Doors” aims to break down one of the main barriers for people with a range of impairments- venue accessibility. The English Federation of Disability Sport and access experts Jean Hewitt Consulting Ltd hope the user-friendly guide ensures more disabled people can enjoy being active in more places.

Tuesday 3 December is International Day of Disabled People. This is a United Nations sanctioned day that aims to promote an understanding of disabled people and encourage support. The theme this year is: “Break Barriers, Open Doors: for an inclusive society and development for all”. In timely recognition, the English Federation of Disability Sport (EFDS) is releasing their newest guide to support sports clubs to improve physical access for disabled people.

The guide is aimed at anybody involved in running or working in a sports club. After speaking to numerous National Governing Bodies of sport about club development, EFDS identified the need for a user-friendly guide to facility accessibility. It is not a detailed technical guide, but intended as a starting point. The main areas of physical access are identified and readers are signposted to further information and support.

As well as it making good business sense to be welcoming to a huge section of our population, there is also a legal duty to ensure sports clubs are accessible for disabled people to use. The Equality Act 2010 requires sports clubs and other providers to make reasonable adjustments to services so everyone has access, with no exemption for private clubs any more.

Often it is a common misconception that adjustments are expensive or time consuming. In fact, many adjustments cost nothing or a few pounds, with a little bit of thought and planning. An accessible and inclusive sports club may need a few physical adjustments to the building but more than anything it requires forward planning and continuing commitment.

In the UK, it is estimated that there are over 11 million disabled people- that is one in five of the population. Although, there are many reasons why sport and exercise opportunities are beneficial for everybody, it is the stark reality that four out of five disabled people are currently not active.

Barry Horne, Chief Executive for EFDS, said:

“Physical access in and around sports clubs remains a key barrier for many disabled people. As participation ultimately happens at a local level, we need to ensure clubs, as well as unstructured, recreational and informal activity, is barrier-free for more disabled people. Therefore, we are really proud to support providers with this guide so they too can understand the basics of physical access and build their confidence in welcoming more disabled people within their clubs.”

Lisa O’Keefe, Director of Insight from Sport England said:

“Access to appropriate facilities is still one of the main barriers in preventing disabled people getting active. It is fitting that today on International Day of Disabled People that this guidance is published; helping sports clubs take simple steps in improving access to facilities for disabled people.”

Ed Bracher, Chief Executive for Riding for the Disabled Association said:

“We are delighted that EFDS has produced such a comprehensive guide on making clubs accessible.  This will be a great help for our own Accessibility Support Officers who are working with commercial riding schools to help them become more inclusive. These Officers will be able to give clear and comprehensive advice and signpost centres to the relevant information for any improvements they are making to their facilities. To have all this information in one place is a significant help.”

Jamie Blair, Disability Officer for England Golf said:

“England Golf is excited about the launch of EFDS’s Access Guide. As part of England Golf’s commitment to increasing the number of disabled people participating in golf, the guide will be a key part in our plan to create accessible hub clubs within each county. Through our regional network of County Golf Partnerships, the guide will be used in the future plans of our GolfMark clubs. We will work closely with our Club Services team to ensure it will become an integral resource when advising clubs on facility change and future business planning.”

Liz Purbrick, National Disability Manager (Community Participation) for England Athletics said:

“The Access Guide will be really useful to support athletics clubs and running groups to consider the accessibility of the facilities they use for activity and take action to make changes. Physical access is only one of a number of potential barriers to disabled people taking part in athletics. This guide provides practical, simple advice to help support clubs and groups to help them make the necessary considerations, along with facility providers, to support disabled people to take part.”

The Access Guide is available to download using this link.

As well as releasing the guide, the national charity, which is dedicated to disabled people in sport and physical activity, is encouraging providers to get involved with raising awareness too.

-  Use the hashtag #DoorsToActivity on Twitter to promote any sport or exercise opportunities being held this week. The opportunities do not have to be on this particular day but could be weekly sessions, sports programmes, or may be linked to an accessible Inclusive Fitness Initiative gym. EFDS is keen to raise awareness of the range of activities available for disabled people at every level.

-  A Thunderclap has been set up for people to support during the week. You can support it by clicking this link https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/7071-doors-to-activity. Thunderclap is the crowd-speaking platform that helps people be heard by saying something together. If enough people support it, Thunderclap will blast out a timed Facebook Post or Tweet from all your supporters, creating a wave of attention.

More information is available on the EFDS website www.efds.co.uk.

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