Australians with disability participate in a range of sports. There are many practical ways to include people of all abilities in sport at a level of their choice whilst still maintaining the integrity of the activity.
Click here to go to the Disability Inclusion Interactive Scenario.
Sport for people with disability is not ‘one size fits all’. The focus for clubs should be on finding practical ways for people with disability to participate in sport at a level of their choice. Inclusion is about providing a range of options (e.g., options that are only for people with disability and options that are for everyone, but happen to include people with disability with some modifications).
It is not reasonable that all people with disability must be included in all activities all of the time. However there are usually ways to include most people (e.g., athlete, coach, instructor, administrator, official, parent or volunteer).
People with disability are often the best source of information as they know what they can do and they can tell you about possible modifications to assist with inclusion and it is alright to ask a person with disability questions and give things a go as this is often the best way to learn.
These days, the question facing many sporting organisations is not ‘why’ would they include a person with a disability, but ‘how’. Attitudes toward the inclusion of people with disability have transformed in Australia since the 2000 Paralympic Games. Sports generally understand and accept the rights of people with a disability to take part in sport at a level of their choice. And they see the benefits of inclusion in terms of increased membership, community development and culture.
Challenges still exist however. In 2010 the Australian Sports Commission conducted a research project in collaboration with the University of Technology in Sydney into the Participation and Non-Participation of People with Disability in Sport and Active Recreation. You can download a summary of that report here.
Some of the challenges identified in the research focused on the training and support of staff within sporting organisations to help them include people with disability in what they do. Below you will find a framework for inclusion and some practical tips to help you adapt and modify activities for people with disability when you need to.
A common misconception about inclusion is that it is solely about including people with disability in regular sport activities without any modification. Inclusion encompasses many different options in different settings. Inclusion in sport can be viewed in terms of a spectrum. Each section of the spectrum is as important as the next, and ideally there would be programs for people with disability available in all sections to choose from.
Examples of the inclusion spectrum:
The following factors will influence the section/s of the spectrum an individual chooses to participate in:
The inclusion spectrum allows games and activities to be delivered in different ways, with more options. The aim is to encourage higher quality participation by people with disability, both with or away from their able-bodied peers. Clubs can provide a range of options by adapting and modifying their sport in different environments.
You can download an Information Sheet on The Inclusion Spectrum produced by the Australian Sports Commission here.
Being inclusive is about providing a range of options to cater for people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds in the most appropriate manner possible. Inclusion encompasses a broad range of options in many different settings. Sometimes this may mean modifying a sport to provide a more appropriate version for particular participants.
Modifying the rules or even the competition structure of a sport is nothing new. Most national sporting organisations in Australia provide modified versions of sports for their junior program, making the sport more inclusive, safe and fun for younger players (For example, Basketball Australia’s Aussie Hoops and AFL’s Auskick).
The purpose of adapting and modifying sport is to minimise or eliminate disadvantage caused by the environment in which a sport is played. This strategy also enables new rules and equipment to be introduced as players mature and their skills improve. All modifications should be continually reviewed and, if appropriate, phased out over time. However, some modifications may become accepted as part of the regular program, making a program that is suitable for all abilities, such as the modified junior sport programs.
The TREE model is a practical tool designed to help you modify your activities or programs. There are four essential elements of an activity that can be modified to make it more inclusive.
Teaching style refers to the way the sport or activity is communicated to the participants. The way an activity is delivered can have a significant impact on how inclusive it is. Strategies you may use include:
Rules may be simplified or changed and then reintroduced as skill levels increase. Strategies you may use include:
Strategies you may use include:
Strategies you may use include:
You can also download the Disability Education Program Activity Cards - these are an excellent resources that uses the TREE model in a variety of practical contexts:
Listen to the audio from Peter Downs, former Manager of the Australian Sports Commission’s Disability Sport Unit and current Manager of Play by the Rules on adapting and modifying activities.
You can download an Information Sheet on the Golden Rule of Inclusion produced by the Australian Sports Commission here
There is federal, state and territory legislation in place that makes discrimination and harassment in relation to a disability unlawful. Federally, there is the Disability Discrimination Act (1992) that exists to ensure equal opportunity in sport and recreation. You can download an Information Sheet on the Disability Discrimination Act here
Central to the law on discrimination is the concept of reasonable adjustment – what changes are reasonable for sport to ensure the inclusion of people with disability. Listen to the audio from Peter Downs below who talks about the concept of reasonable adjustment for sport.