An imperative part of BDA’s 2017-2021 strategy is continuing to champion and embed disability in every aspect of our work. As a result of our 2013-2017 strategy, we have now seen just over 3,500 disabled participants playing bowls regularly (figures correct as of March 2017) after attending BDA funded events.
The following major steps have also been made in the past few years:
- Release of yearly advisory guides relating to disabled participation and adaptive equipment and funding (accessible from our website).
- Creation and launch of an annual National Participation Survey, which includes disability.
- Creation of a Working with Disabled People in Bowls coach education course.
- Creation of a National Disability Kitemark Accreditation Scheme for bowls clubs.
- Creation and launch of the annual Love Fisher Brown Award
- Development of a closer working relationship between the BDA, the English Federation for Disability Sport, Bowls England, the English Indoor Bowling Association and Disability Bowls England.
Despite the successes to date, we are aware that there is a significant amount of work to be done and a number of challenges to be overcome in order for us to successfully increase disability participation. Some of these challenges are:
WHAT CONSTITUTES AS A DISABILITY AND CAN IT BE MEASURED OBJECTIVELY?
In sport, a disabled participant is defined as anyone who is affected by any of the following impairments:
- Vision, for example, due to blindness or partial sight.
- Hearing, for example, due to deafness or partial hearing.
- Mobility, such as difficulty walking short distances, climbing stairs, lifting & carrying objects.
- Learning or concentrating or remembering.
- Mental Health.
- Stamina or breathing difficulty.
- Social or behavioural issues, for example, due to neuro diverse conditions such as Autism, Attention Deficit or Aspergers’ Syndrome.
- Difficulty speaking or making yourself understood.
- Dexterity difficulties, by that I mean lifting, grasping or holding objects.
- Long-term pain or discomfort that is always present or reoccurs from time to time.
- Affects you in some other way.
To meet the needs of their members, it is important for clubs to ask their membership whether they have any of the above conditions, for example including such a question on their membership forms.
HOW CAN A CLUB CATER FOR DISABLED BOWLERS?
We have seen clubs lacking confidence in engaging with disabled bowlers, fearing that they don’t have the information available, facilities and skills to offer those bowlers a good experience. A lot of these fears are unfounded, as a lot of disabled participants would require minimal adjustments to take part.
For more information on how to cater for disabled bowlers, you can check our Guide for Disabled Participation in Bowls.
WHAT FIRST STEPS SHOULD A CLUB TAKE IN ORDER TO BECOME DISABILITY-FRIENDLY?
We would advise clubs to first find out more about their own members and if any of them have an impairment listed above. Being aware of these impairments will help clubs decide on any immediate. Information about how to do that can be accessed from our Guide for Disabled Participation in Bowls.
Additionally, a section or even just a paragraph on the website dedicated to disabled bowlers can make a big difference! We would encourage clubs to list on their websites the facilities and equipment that they have available, so that those planning a visit to the club are fully aware of the accessible features available to them.
A next step for clubs to take is to send some of their coaches or committee members to attend one of our Working with Disabled People in Bowls workshops. Using real case studies from bowlers with various impairments including social bowlers, club members and even Commonwealth Games medallists, this workshop focuses on looking at what makes an inclusive coach; how to adapt and personalise your coaching sessions, and how to communicate effectively.
Fully inclusive clubs can also apply to become a Disability Kitemark Accredited Club. The Disability Kitemark has been developed to recognise and reward those affiliated bowls clubs who are fully inclusive and welcoming to those people who wish to bowl who have a form of disability.
Further information about the Kitemark and disability bowls is available via the Disability Bowls menu on this website.