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05 Jan 2022 407

New toolkit to help gyms make sport accessible

UK Coaching urges gyms and sports providers to make their facilities more accessible to visually impaired people and has just launched free training to show them how to do just that.

The new toolkit, Inclusive Facilities: Supporting People with a Visual Impairment, created in partnership with Thomas Pocklington Trust, contains videos and resources leisure operators can use to train staff.

Kelly Rodrigues from UK Coaching said: “Small adjustments can make a huge difference for people with a visual impairment to access leisure facilities and sports, and become more active. These can be as simple as a member of staff approaching a visually impaired person and introducing themselves.

We are asking sports and leisure facilities to encourage all their staff – from the front desk to their personal trainers – to get engaged with this training programme and make sport accessible in their venues.”

Martin Symcox, Sports Development Lead at Thomas Pocklington Trust, said:

One of the greatest barriers to blind and partially sighted people participating in sport is confidence and we know disabled people are twice as likely to be inactive*, compared to non-disabled people.

Knowing that a leisure or sport provider understands their needs, helps increase confidence and makes visually impaired people more likely to choose that place to do exercise."

The toolkit is a free resource open to all leisure providers and contains:

  • What is a visual impairment?
  • What makes an accessible environment?
  • Guiding and communicating
  • The benefits of an accessible environment

Tara Dillon, CEO at Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity (CIMSPA) said:

It’s good to see the sight loss and physical activity sectors working together to upskill the workforce. This toolkit will provide valuable support to leisure operators. I would encourage them to use the free resource to help blind and partially sighted people have equal access to sport and physical activity.

Lucy Barrett, Assistant Manager at Energise Leisure Centre, said:

I would definitely recommend this training resource to other leisure operators.  It gives staff confidence in communicating with visually impaired people, understanding visual impairment and how to create an accessible environment.

Thomas Pocklington Trust, together with York Sight Loss Council members, provided training to Better Energise Leisure Centre in York on how to support and guide blind and partially sighted people.

Kelly McTighe, Energise Gym Instructor, said:

Prior to having the training, I probably would have been a little bit nervous about asking a visually impaired person how they wanted to be supported.  Fitness should be inclusive. We should be welcoming everybody, regardless of their ability.

Sidney Tambin, who is severely sight impaired visited the centre. He said:

If a venue is accessible it can really boost a visually impaired person’s self confidence.

Martin added: “The changes to the environment and procedures are often simple and inexpensive to implement and could actually be of financial benefit as more visually impaired people choose that facility to spend their money.  We will be looking for examples of good practise across the country and will be sharing these with the sight loss community. 

So, we urge operators to take a look at the toolkit and train their teams.”

 

* Sport England: Active Lives Survey 2021

Inclusive Facilities: Supporting People with a Visual Impairment

Access our free toolkit for gyms, sports providers and staff and make your facility more accessible to visually impaired people

Access The Toolkit