Belfast Telegraph

Monday 21 April 2014

New sports guidelines aim to address disability issues

Disability Sports NI and Sport Northern Ireland launched their new sports facility access guidelines at the House of Sport last week, with the help of two local up and coming athletes.

Paralympic Ireland swimmer Johnny Cummings and Team GB wheelchair basketball player Paul McKillop launched the guidelines, entitled ‘Access To Sports Facilities For People With Disabilities: Design & Management Guidelines’ (2010 Edition), which aim to help ensure that all new, extended and altered sports facilities in Northern Ireland meet the best possible levels of good practice in terms of access for people with disabilities.

The guidelines which are also endorsed by Northern Ireland’s main disability rights organisation, Disability Action, are based on optimum levels of best practice in relation to the design and management of facilities which fully meet the needs of disabled sports people.

The guidelines provide detailed guidance and advice on four key areas of facility design and management: Design and technical issues, including standards for car parking, signage and changing areas; sports specific technical guidelines for 14 Paralympic sports; guidance on putting in place relevant policies and procedures; and guidance on developing inclusive sports development plans.

Angela Hendra, Disability Sports NI chairperson said: “Although basic physical access to sports facilities has improved in recent years, many sports facilities are still unable to fully meet the needs of people with disabilities, particularly in relation to team sports, wheelchair sports and access to fitness equipment.

“I’m delighted then to see the launch of the new guidelines which encourage the design and management of sports facilities which are truly inclusive, not just in terms of basic physical access but in terms of access to every part of the facility, access to fitness equipment, and access to all of the programmes and services provided by facilities.”

The guidelinesare available free of charge from www.dsni.co.uk and www.sportni.net.

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