The person going sailing knows themselves. The club or centre and its staff and volunteers know about sailing. A conversation between both parties will provide all the information needed to make good decisions about safety and participation. This section includes is a series of prompts you can use and adapt.

Not all will be relevant all the time, so you may filter them depending on who you are talking to and what is important to them. Please do add to the list as needed – it is certainly not meant to be exhaustive. The prompts below are written from a sailor’s perspective.

What we know

  • The participant - I know myself, my hopes and aspirations, how I communicate and learn, what I can and cannot do, how I react
  • The organisation - you know about boating, the place it is taking place, the equipment being used and the people who will be involved in delivering the activity


Ask me:

  • How I communicate, engage, plan and learn?What do I use to help me communicate, make choices and learn?
    • Whether I need key information in certain formats, delivered in a specific way or whether I need a communication professional to interpret?
    • What is important to me, what is helpful? What is unhelpful?
  • How I engage with others, and develop relationships?
    • What is important to me, what is helpful? Unhelpful?
  • How you know I am listening and engaging? How you know if I need a break?
  • What is important to help me plan the day, know what is happening next
  • Whether anything impacts on how I perceive risk

What I can and can’t do

You probably don’t need to know the detail of any conditions I have - it’s more about the impact on my day to day life. For example you don’t really need to know I have retinosa pigmentosa but it might help to know I have a really narrow field of vision, where you need to stand so I can see you and the fact that if there is lots of glare I find it hard to use the vision I do have.

Ask me about:

  • My trunk – the control and balance I have, and how symmetrical I am;
  • How buoyant I am in the water; my centre of gravity
  • My hands, feet and limbs - have I got them, can I control them, can I feel them?
  • Whether I can regulate my core temperature; my ability to breath easily and maintain my heart rate; my ability to remain conscious and ‘present’ at all times?
  • My touch sensation – how do I feel or experience pain, or judge extremes of temperature – is feedback delayed in anyway?
  • My mobility
  • Any sensory impairments and how I process sensory information
    • What I can see and hear
    • About my balance and spatial awareness
  • How my function and sensory impairments may affect my participation in boating?

What it will be like on the water

Ask me

  • How do extremes of temperature, dehydration, energy levels, noise, and water impact on what I can and can't do?
  • About anything that may impact on my ability to communicate on the water – you may need to tell me about the environment and possible scenarios so I can give you the information you need
  • How to prevent me becoming stressed and anxious, how you will know if I am becoming anxious and how you can help?
  • Do I take any medication I may need access to while sailing, including emergency medication? You might need to tell me how long we are going afloat for.

What do you record about me

It is possible to recreate some of the questions on a form to be completed in advance of any activity, and such forms can and do serve a useful purpose, but it is hard to capture the richness of a person’s life on a form. Perhaps view forms as a way of raising flags that need exploring as part of a fuller conversation. If nothing else ask:

  • What do people appreciate about me?
  • What is important to me and for me?
  • What support do I need?

Thank you for reading. Now return to the start of this guide.

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