HEIs provide sports services for staff and students on campus. Different people have different needs and requirements. Sports services need to be aware of these differences and ensure they are inclusive and accessible to all staff, students and local community members.
HE sports and fitness services need to consider how inclusive they are for a number of reasons:
- the growing diversity of student and staff demographics
- the need to generate and sustain financial income in a competitive market
- meeting equality legislation
- the commitment of HE to achieving a lasting 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games legacy
There are a number of areas that HEIs should consider to ensure that sports services are inclusive. For example, the facility opening hours may cause a barrier to some participants, particularly those who have limitations on when they can use facilities.
Scheduling activities at different times and throughout the week could help to avoid potential clashes with, for example, religious holy days or for people with caring responsibilities.
The design, layout, location and signs within facilities can also all create barriers to participation. Often it may only require a minor adjustment to create a more accessible facility, for example installing tactile signs, lowering the level of the reception desk, and providing large accessible lockers.
An inclusive approach to the design and development of facilities will help to address these physical access barriers and ensure that additional expenditure is not unnecessarily incurred on retrofitting facilities.
Through effective data gathering and analysis sports services will be able to build an evidence base that will help it develop a clear picture of members’ diversity and understand participation levels from underrepresented groups. Data can be collected through a number of mechanisms, for example through equality monitoring forms at registration.