Sport England state that 1 in 5 people in England have a long standing limiting disability or illness. Almost 70% of disabled people are aged over 50 and almost 75% of disabled people have more than one impairment. Not everyone who has a long standing limiting disability will identify as such.
All these facts point to those involved in providing sailing opportunities needing to consider how accessible their venue and facilities are.
The Equalities Act applies to all organisations that provide a service to the public or a section of the public and to anyone that sells goods or provides facilities:
Under the Equalities Act there is a duty to make ‘reasonable’ adjustments to the physical features of premises in order to ensure that there are no physical barriers to the services and facilities on offer.
What is reasonable will vary from issue to issue and will be influenced by the size of the club or RTC, its financial resources, the cost of the adjustments and the particular circumstances of the case. Carrying out an assessment / audit will help you plan and decide what is reasonable. It is good practice to be proactive rather than wait for people to tell you something is inaccessible.
This tool follows a typical journey from arrival through to going boating. It is meant for those involved with a particular club or centre to self-assess the accessibility of existing buildings and facilities, including access to the water. It is not a definitive guide and does not detail every bit of design guidance that exists.
Anyone considering a new build or major renovations of an existing building or facilities should seek advice from professional consultants on accessibility issues.
Each section includes:
Whilst there is a wide range of guidance and standards for inclusive and accessible design (and this document sources some of those), listening to what disabled people think and the barriers they face is the easiest way to find out what you can do to improve access and ensure your facilities are usable. One way to do this is to carry out a self-assessment with disabled people, walking through the facilities and getting user comments and feedback.
At all times you should have in mind:
Following this approach and using this tool will enable you to produce:
An accessibility statement is a way of describing the facilities and support available to enable people to access what is on offer, both on shore and on the water.
Do you provide enough information to enable people to plan their journeys to your venue?
Consider the proximity of parking and setting down points, how people can reach buildings and facilities on site, and the overall accessibility of external paths and walkways as people arrive
Consider the external spaces, where people need to get to, and how they find their way to different facilities they will access at the venue
Consider whether people can easily use the interior of buildings, without asking too many questions. It asks you to look at how people get around, colour schemes, lighting, the acoustic environment and furniture
Consider whether people can easily use the wc and changing facilities. It considers mobility, equipment, lighting and colour schemes as well as procedures for responding to alarms.
A focus on the routes to any pontoon, jetty or boat in use; the pontoons and or slipway; the boats available and safety or assistive equipment provided
Consider whether those sailing with you can get out of the building or boats in an emergency
Consider whether you communicate and provide information in such a way that makes it easy for people to know their way around and find out what is going on without asking too many questions
This tool draws from a number of sources which contain further detail should you need it. It is worth noting that should you feel you need further detail you may also need to seek independent, professional advice.
We are grateful to Jennifer Teagle NRAC Access Auditor for her input into this self-assessment tool.