The New Brunswick Association for Community Living has published a useful list of ways that recreation programs can ensure that they are inclusive. The eight outlined requirements are supported by practical suggestions that recreation providers can apply.
The first requirement involves having inclusion established as part of an organization’s mission. It should be understood that people with a variety of disabilities and backgrounds will be welcome in programs. The second requirement dictates that leadership and administration must support inclusion. The third requirement is the use of inclusion facilitators, such as staff members or outside consultants with specialized knowledge and experience. These may include therapeutic recreation professionals. The fourth requirement is staff hiring and training that ensures buy-in to the organization’s inclusive mission and supports employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities.
The fifth requirement involves accessibility, including the application of universal design principles. No matter how inclusive the social environment, if physical spaces are inaccessible, a program cannot be truly inclusive. One strategy for ensuring accessibility is conducting an “accessibility audit” with the help of outside organizations. To fulfill the sixth requirement of funding, organizations must have resources earmarked for improving inclusivity and accessibility, such as to purchase adaptive equipment, hire inclusion facilitators, or do renovations or retrofits. The seventh requirement involves networking, because it is necessary to seek input from people and organizations with relevant expertise and experience. The final requirement is marketing and promotion, because the public needs to know that programs are inclusive in order for all potential participants to know they will be accommodated and welcomed. Official statements about inclusivity can be included in relevant communications, and program guides should include references to inclusion throughout.