Powering up accessibility and inclusivity

Meet Abdul, a passionate powerboating enthusiast with a visual impairment, who recently excelled in an RYA powerboating course

mid-shot of young man driving motorboat on a city river on sunny day

Reflecting on his first powerboating experience, Abdul explains: “I initially participated in Powerability sessions run by All-Aboard Watersports and I was immediately hooked!” 

Explaining his motivation for then wanting to further his skills and undertake an RYA powerboating course, he continued: “I wanted to prove to myself that I could get through the course and obtain the license with a visual impairment.” 

Tactile teaching methods

RYA Instructor Glyn Norris, who led the training, shared how he adapted the course syllabus: "After initially assessing Abdul's learning style and capabilities, I recognised the potential of a 'Braille' map to help with the unique shape of Bristol harbour, where he would be navigating.” 

“I began with a basic A3 map of Bristol and used regular tracing paper to pencil the waterway's outline with a raised perimeter that could be felt by touch. I added masking tape as markers for bridges along the waterway, aiding orientation while on the water."

Abdul added: “The tactile maps really brought the driving portion of the training alive, as they included landmarks and measurements which helped me visualise my surroundings whenever we were on the water. 

"In the classroom, Glyn was great at verbally explaining typically visual concepts, or by using learning aids such as miniature boat models to describe collision avoidance techniques, and balls as props to describe the tide cycle.”

instructor demonstrating something to young man using a football as a an educational prop

Accessible publications

For Abdul to learn the syllabus, he needed a version of the Start Powerboating (E-G48) coursebook  in an accessible format. The highly accessible EPUB file provided by RYA Publications meant that Abdul was able to fully understand all the course content. He noted that this was beneficial, “especially with the very detailed descriptions of images and illustrations, meaning that I was able to independently study prior to every lesson.”

Getting afloat

Delighted at the quality of training given, Abdul explained: “During the driving portion of the training there were very clear-to-understand instructions and also prompt and precise callouts of distances and approach angles to enable me to execute even the tightest manoeuvres.”

His final comments to sum up his experience on the course: "I would absolutely recommend this course to any visually impaired person with an interest in powerboating.

“I felt such a sense of fulfilment and pride as I held my license, and I'm sure you would feel the same, too, at the end of it. All it takes is the right learning attitude together with an accommodating training centre and instructor, and you'll be off to the waves in no time!”

Get started

Find out more about the RYA Powerboat training scheme or find a club or centre near you.

Abdul completed his course at All Aboard Watersports in Bristol. Read more about the RYA's approach to accessible publications.

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