Creating accessible facilities
Many organisations offering sport and physical activity rely on facilities to deliver their programmes. However, these facilities are sometimes difficult to access and require adaptations to ensure they are usable and suitable for everyone, particularly those with different needs.
This webpage outlines a number of considerations for your organisation to help ensure the facilities you own, or use, are as accessible as possible.
Importance of accessible facilities
Being welcoming and inclusive is key to a successful community sports club, group or organisation. However, there can be a number of barriers related to the use of a facility, that can prevent engagement or impact upon a user’s experience. If your organisation can understand these barriers and make the necessary adjustments to remove them, you can create a more inclusive and positive experience for all.
The Equality Act (2010) requires your organisation to make reasonable adjustments to your services, facilities and offer so that everyone has the opportunity to access them. This does not mean that you need to make major, expensive changes to your facilities but implement small actions or adapt your offer so that anyone who wants to attend or be involved with your organisations can.
Below are a number of actions that could help your make your own facilities more accessible or support discussions that you may have with facility providers, if your hire or lease facilities.
For maximum benefit, you need to think about all aspects of your user’s physical experience, from the journey to and from your facilities, how information is communicated, and how individuals directly engage with your offer or activities. Key considerations include:
Planning and understanding
- Talk to your participants, workforce and wider community and take time to understand any needs or barriers they’re facing. Understanding these will help you to identify the changes that you can make.
- You may want to nominate an inclusion champion to help ensure that any needs of your people from various protected characteristic groups such as disability, gender, age, or faith are identified and listened to.
- Create an action plan outlining the steps that you will implement, the associated timescales and who is responsible for helping to address identified barriers.
- Appoint a lead contact or sub-committee who is responsible for ensuring facilities are accessible.
- Ensure your workforce are suitably trained to support people who access your facilities with different needs.
- Clearly provide information on the facilities that are available and any known barriers.
- Provide pre visit information which is communicated to all, so they know what to expect when they arrive and where to go.
- Make it easy for people to find your facilities by providing information on public transport routes, times, and the availability of car parking.
- Promote the steps you have in place to help assure people that your facilities are accessible, and they can comfortably join in activities.
- Where possible provide access ramps at any entrances or doors with steps.
- Provide accessible toilets and changing areas which are ready for use (e.g. not used as storage). All facilities should have at least one clearly signposted accessible toilet and changing area.
- Consider all protected characteristics in the provision of changing and toilet facilities including cultural and religious beliefs, those that require a carer’s assistance, and LGBTQ+ audiences.
- Ensure that any alterations to facilities do not create additional barriers for other people.
There are a number of resources from partners across the sector that can support you when making your facilities more accessible. These range from design guidance to smaller changes within existing facilities. Take a look:
- Activity Alliance – Access for all opening doors
- Activity Alliance – Accessible venues – Leisure factsheet 4.
- Sport England – Accessible facilities