Factoring Disabilities Into Your Facility Planning
Most people who own a commercial venue understand how important it is to be able to provide equal levels of service for those with disabilities. Being inclusive is vital to the success of a modern sports or recreational facility. This is an issue we at the Sports Facility Advisory see frequently, and we can offer you some advice and considerations at the outset of your facility planning.
One of the best ways to prepare is by looking into sports that are adapted for those with disabilities. Find out how they work, what specific equipment is required, what adaptations are made to facilities or locations where they are played and factor in the cost of applying them to your strategy.
It may also be wise to research any local schools or centers in your area that cater specifically to those with disabilities. Contact them and survey whether or not there would be interest in developing specific programs for those who use their service. For example, if a school close by has special education classes, there could be interest in an after school program specifically for the children that attend.
If your facility can provide trained staff and the right care, you would potentially have a ready and regular user-base. In addition, you could find any similar centers for adults with disabilities and assess whether there is an interest in disability sports in your community for adults, then shape certain aspects of your facility planning.
You should also do extensive research into some of the more common considerations relating to accessibility for the disabled during your facility planning. Installing ramps for wheelchair accessibility might seem like a given, but you need to carefully consider where you place them. You should also consider having a supply of portable ramps that can be used with buses and entryways to make sure your facility is prepared for unexpected inconveniences. If you are planning your facility, factor in the general conveniences that might be easily taken for granted. Disabled bathrooms are common, but you should also look into how to adapt changing rooms and showers to be sure that you can provide safety and ease-of-use throughout.
Finally, an aspect of this topic that is most often overlooked is being knowledgeable about disabilities, especially with all the pressure of facility planning. Few people will expect you or your staff to be fully versed in the medical details of every disability, but having a working knowledge of a variety of different challenges is a significant benefit.
Research some of the most common disabilities, particularly those that pertain to the ways in which you are looking to adapt your facility or any that relate directly to a disability sport you want to provide. Make sure that the information you have is the most current.
This should also extend to your staff. Include any pertinent information in your staff handbook, or provide specific literature about users with disabilities. You might even consider employing specialists on staff, or have someone with a more in-depth knowledge speak to you and your employees.
The Importance of In Depth Facility Planning
Living an active lifestyle, staying fit or just having hobbies is as important to someone living with a disability as it is to someone who does not face the same issues. Too many sport and recreational facilities, particularly in smaller communities, are still not fully capable of providing for them, and taking some of these factors into consideration as you plan will keep you one step ahead. Contact the Sports Facilities Advisory today for more advice.