Making sport accessible for everyone

Sporting groups will be able to provide more accessible and inclusive programs and services for people with disabilities thanks to a new online tool developed by La Trobe University.

The Disability Resource provides training and support for sporting and recreation organisations to better involve and engage people with a disability. Resources include advice on activities and program delivery, and disability awareness and accessibility training.

La Trobe Sport Management expert Dr Pam Kappelides said many people with disabilities faced challenges accessing sport facilities that other members of the community took for granted.

“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 said.

“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.”

Participation in sport has significant benefits for individuals and communities in terms of health, wellbeing and social cohesion, but Dr Kappelides’ research has found that people with disability face significant barriers.

Approximately 18.5 per cent of the population had a disability in 2016 and 60 per cent of these people did not participate in sport, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Having the resources online also means that it can be updated with new materials regularly, Dr Kappelides said.

“There are new ideas and research happening all the time, so we will update the website as they become available, Dr Kappelides said.

Paralympic medallist and La Trobe PhD graduate Hannah Macdougall helped develop the materials and knows first-hand the power of sport to change people’s lives.

“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 said.

Dr Macdougall, who holds a doctorate in Athlete Well-Being from La Trobe, said The Disability Resource would make it easier for people with disabilities to find the sport  best 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,” Hannah said.

Dr Kappelides developed The Disability Resource with input from disability groups and funding from Sport and Recreation Victoria.

The materials can be accessed online at http://disability-resource.org.au/

Media Contact: Dan Salmon | d.salmon@latrobe.edu.au | 9479 3491 | 0499 949 627

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