Sporting facilities need to be accessible for all

Queen’s is making strides but still has work to do

Accessibility of sporting facilities is still an important area of growth.
Credit: 
Supplied by Isaac Sahota
For community members with disabilities, the accessibility of sports and recreation facilities can pose challenges even with legislative efforts and mandates work toward equal access. 
 
Isaac Sahota, ArtSci ’22, is no stranger to the advocacy work in improving accessibility at Queen’s. During his undergraduate studies, Sahota has worked with various stakeholders across campus to improve access. 
 
His crowning achievements include his work to make accessibility grants awarded monthly, and his work developing “Accessible Allies,”   a mentorship programme that connects upper-year students with incoming first year students who have disabilities.  
 
In an interview with The Journal, Sahota discussed the importance of representation across all levels of decision making, particularly when it comes to accessibility in sporting facilities. 
 
“Representation matters, and someone who really knows the problems related to accessibility should be consulted and employed if there are positions for them [...] [Organizations] have enough resources, but they’re missing perspective, they’re missing the perspective that will make things positive and accessible,” Sahota said. 
 
Sahota said advertising of accessibility measures needs improvement. 
 
“Even before this interview, I was at the gym, so you know, people from the community do use these facilities,” he said. “We should advertise these facilities more, and we should advertise them as inclusive and accessible.”
 
In modern sport, Sahota also discussed the unfair implications that can be drawn from the treatment of athletes with disabilities. 
 
Canadian Paralympians are not paid the same as able bodied Olympians—the two players are going to need the same resources, or even more equipment if someone is disabled. It’s just not fair.”
 
In speaking to his experiences at Queen’s, Sahota highlighted the ARC facilities as being much better in terms of accessibility than some other facilities off-campus. 
 
“I was happy at the ARC since there is some equipment, like hand cycling [...] There is equipment and everything, but no one to give you information regarding that,” Sahota said. 
 
“I don’t want to say something negative-the people working there sometimes don’t have enough information to assist someone with accessibility needs. So that’s something we need to work on.”
 
Duane Parliament, A&R manager of facilities and operations, highlighted an integrated approach to working on accessible facilities. He said a lot of work goes into building management and development, and example being the Pavilion at Richardson Stadium
 
“It’s not just A&R that’s doing all of that work,” Parliament said in an interview with The Journal.
 
“There’s a project manager from central facilities that is involved in that project as well [...] All of the current Queen’s standards are consulted and reviewed when those designs are taking place.”
 
Parliament said staff receive extensive training on subjects like power balance and sport safety in addition to legislatively-mandated training on accessible customer experience. 
 
A coordinator of equity education and learning was also hired last fall to help with the implementation of training and EDII initiatives. 
 
Parliament highlighted resources exist at A&R facilities for people with disabilities, including accessible weight equipment, entry ramp into pools, and chair lifts. Some equipment is designed for seats to be adjusted for folks using mobility devices. 
 
For students seeking resources, Parliament stressed the importance of either asking at the customer service desk at the ARC or sending an email. 
 
Since Sahota has graduated, he hopes to see people at Queen’s continuing to advocate for accessibility. He also had a message for students at Queen’s 
with disabilities. 
 
“Don’t get demotivated. Do the things they want to do, be visible and take up space.”
 

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