Just the word 'Sailability' still causes some clubs and centres to instantly default to 'that's not for us'. There is still the lingering perception that Sailability equals hoists, equals expense, equals more volunteers, equals large scale structural works, equals 'that's not for us'.
RYA Disability Development Officer Brett Cockayne shares his top 5 Sailability myths:
1) Sailability is just about disability.
Sailability is also about accessibility and inclusion. Look at the demographic of your membership. We live in a country with an ageing population. Many clubs' memberships reflect this trend. But how many of your retired members would consider themselves to have a disability? Not many. Yet how many need increased support and assistance to sail regularly. Sailability can be about simply helping to keep people sailing for longer as it about disability.
2) We'd need a fleet of adapted boats.
Many people who sail regularly have 'hidden' disabilities or medical conditions, in that they aren't obvious when you look at them. These people are sailing every week across the UK in Lasers, Toppers and a whole host of other 'standard' boats you will probably already have in your club fleet. How can you use these boats to cater for someone with a particular need or condition comes down to understanding.
3) Making changes to our clubhouse will cost a fortune
Becoming more accessible doesn't instantly mean knocking down your clubhouse and starting again. Things as simple as putting a couple of handrails in the changing room or toilets for people to support themselves, or painting lines on edges of pathways and stairs, can promote continued independence and make a massive difference to how confident someone feels about coming to your club.
4) Sailability means wheelchairs and we can't accommodate that
Sailability aims to make sailing inclusive for all regardless of age or ability. Wheelchair users are obviously a huge part of that. But being more inclusive doesn't immediately mean accommodating wheelchairs. When someone with a disability enquires about coming sailing, you can tell them what you can offer and make them aware of any possible challenges, for example, steps up to the club or untreated pathways to the water. You might not have a hoist, but many wheelchair users can also self-transfer from pontoon to boat with minimal support. The people enquiring know what they're capable of so let the decision be theirs.
5) We haven't got any Sailability instructors
Disability awareness training is available for all instructors not just those who work on Sailability. A recent site survey conducted in the Midlands showed clubs thought approximately 3-4% of their membership had a disability of some form or level. However, nationally we know around 17-20% of club members have a disability. Perceptions differ. Disability awareness training can help all instructors, coaches and volunteers gain a better understanding of what disability is and how to cater for a wider range of people.
Your RYA Disability Development Officer is contactable to talk about what inclusive sailing can bring to a club, and what is really needed to make your club accessible and inclusive. If you’d like any further information on inclusive sailing visit RYA Sailability
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