NBC CT recently aired a great story about adaptive tennis. Wheelchair tennis is an exciting, competitive sport; the only modification to the rules is that players are allowed a second bounce, should they wish to take it. This year, the US sent one of the most decorated, experienced tennis teams ever to the Paralympic Games in Rio. Seeing wheelchair tennis becoming more and more prominent gives younger wheelchair users a greater understanding of what sports are available to them, encouraging and empowering them to enjoy athletics.
The increasing visibility of athletes who use wheelchairs may also be encouragement for managers of public and private fitness facilities to make their gyms, swimming pools, and training areas truly accessible. Having a wheelchair ramp installed to ensure easy access is a great first start, but there are other factors to consider. Something as simple as a small staircase leading to a locker room can make a gym unusable for some athletes.
If you’re interested in making sure your Connecticut fitness facility is set up to serve people of all ability levels, ask someone who uses a wheelchair to give your place a test run. Have them go through a typical workout experience, asking them to make note of any areas where using your facility was challenging or even impossible. This list is a good starting point to identify both immediately remediable issues; repeat the process by asking people with different mobility issues to get a full understanding of your facility from a disabled user’s point of view.
It’s especially important for fitness facilities hoping to serve and attract young athletes to be fully accessible. Wheelchair ramps, pool lifts, barrier free showers and other adaptive equipment by its very presence makes it clear to athletes of all ability levels that they’re welcome, valued members of the sports community.