A young male Adelaide Giants Baseball player stands on the mound of the baseball diamond about to pitch the ball. The logo next to him reads Return to Sport. Underneath are the Office for Recreation, Sport and Racing and Inclusive Sport SA logos.

Launch – Return to Sport Accessible Communication Material

It has been an unsettling time over the past few months for the nation’s grass roots sport communities, watching our sporting way of life relegated to the bench. While our playing arenas have sat idle our minds exercised vigorously to comprehend the sport restrictions and guidelines in a continually changing COVID-19 environment. For many this messaging was challenging to understand. For people with disability, those with differing learning styles, low literacy levels or where English is an additional language, it was complicated and unclear. And at times may have presented an additional barrier when engaging in sport and recreation. With this is mind, Inclusive Sport SA (ISSA) approached the Office for Recreation, Sport and Racing (ORSR) for assistance to create accessible resource material to ensure these circumstances were not an additional obstacle toward participation for those who may find it difficult to engage with local communities and process information presented in traditional formats.

Identified at an office staff team meeting, our Behaviour Support Practitioners and Developmental Educators discussed the lengths of time they were spending to develop material to support clients understand the situation and responsibility to follow the health restrictions and hygiene requirements. This was reiterated by the Participant Advisory Group and network of Sport deliverers and service providers who had similar concerns about the lack of accessible resources.  

Presenting the scope of work to ORSR, it was agreed that the resources would be of benefit to all people across sports, including people with alternative learning styles and language abilities. It would also provide supported reference material for club officials to deliver health and hygiene messages that had a better chance of being adhered to by their members and families. Keeping everyone safe in turn.

Gary Sutherland, Chairperson of the Participant Advisory Group and Coach of the Goodwood Saints Inclusive League football team said, “I find that at training, the most challenging part of all this is reinforcing the personal hygiene and distancing rules. The message needs to be created and communicated so that it is easy to relate to and easy to follow through with”.

Liaising with industry specialists, people from diverse cultures and individuals with lived experience of disability The Return to Sport Accessible Communication material includes Easy English/Easy Read documents, Social stories and Club Communication Support Guides to address these issues and bring about a better understanding of new rules in a new environment.

John Cranwell, CEO said “In partnership with people with lived experience in alternative communication styles, Inclusive Sport SA will relay the health and hygiene messages to ensure people can safely access and reengage with their community through sport and recreation.”

The accessible material is backed by a highly visible “Return to Sport Safely” social media campaign filmed by local livestream company Spacequake Sports. The short video features a proactive health and hygiene message from high profile athletes from Adelaide United (football), Adelaide Lightning (basketball), Adelaide Thunderbirds (netball) and the Adelaide Giants (baseball) alongside SANFL’s Inclusive League players and South Australia’s Power chair athletes to ensure the message is inclusive and appeasing to and for everyone.

Located on the Sport Inclusion Hub section of the Inclusive Sport SA website, the Return to Sport resources include:

  • Easy English/Read, (PDF and Word documents)
    • Return to Sport
    • Return to Recreation and Play
  • Social Stories (PDF format and voice over ‘read along’ mp4 format)
    • Keeping you and others well
    • Going to the game
    • Playing the game
    • Keeping Safe During Recreation and Play
  • Club Communication Guides
    • Actioning Club Communication
    • Tips for Written Communication 

In addition to the above material, Inclusive Sport SA reference Best Practice Communications & Engagement Guides to offer sport administrators and coaches a holistic view of inclusion practices in a sport environment, these include:

  • Assisting Social Interaction
  • Impairments & Disability
  • Engaging Multicultural Youth in Sport (developed in collaboration with MYSA)

Katrina Ranford, GM said, “The development of the Return to Sport Accessible Communication material is significant in restoring motion in the sport sector for all participants and to assist sport club administrators, volunteers, coaches and officials with inclusive focused participation and engaging strategies.

This has been a challenging 2020 season for sport, and also been a great display of unity and innovation amongst our SA sport fraternity mobilising to promote wellbeing and bring our love for the game (every game) back to our daily lives.”

A special thank you to the following organisations, athletes and staff for your swift action and availability to support and promote this video campaign:

  • ADELAIDE BULLS POWERCHAIR ATHLETES: Santo Bongiovanni, Chantel Bongiovanni, Jono Nguyen, Travis Ashworth and Jonathan Grigg.
  • ADELAIDE GIANTS: Eric Balner (Operations Manager), Griffin Weber & Tom Fitzgerald (players) and Peter Ditrich (umpire).
  • ADELAIDE LIGHTNING: Tim Brenton (General Manager) and players Steph Talbot, Chelsea Brooke & Jasmin Fejo.
  • ADELAIDE THUNDERBIRDS: Deborah Kassing (Operations Manager), and players Chelsea Pitman, Maisie Nankivell & Samantha Gooden.
  • ADELAIDE UNITED: Marius Zanin (Head of Marketing & Communications), Ruben Garcia Byrne (Community & Member Services Officer) and players Kusini Yengi, Al Hassan Toure & Mohamed Toure.
  • SANFL APM INCLUSIVE LEAGUE: Nathan Pepper (Community Programs Coordinator – Disability) and players Steven Hall, Andrew Doeke, Toby Sutherland and Ben Horn.

Inclusive Sport SA would like to also thank Minister for Recreation, Sport and Racing Corey Wingard and Chief Executive Officer Kylie Taylor and staff from the Office for supporting this special project.

Thank you to the following people and organisations for their expertise and assistance in developing these resources and providing best practice advice and feedback:

  • David Muggleton (Director, Spacequake Sports)
  • Gary Sutherland (Participant Advisory Group, Chairperson / Goodwood Saints Inclusive League coach)
  • Michael Zannis (Participant Advisory Group, member / RSB Braille Trainer & Corporate Relations Officer)
  • Susie Wilke (Multicultural Youth SA, Services and Operations Manager)
  • Michelle Kwan (Access Media Client Services Director)
  • Nathan Hart and Amy Wood (The Lights’ Community and Sports Centre)

Information about the project and links to the resources will be sent to all South Australian State Sport Organisations and released on Thursday 2 July on the Inclusive Sport SA website and social media platforms.

For more information contact General Manager, Active Inclusion – Katrina Ranford kranford@inclusivesportsa.com.au