Orienteering for everyone
One of our most successful orienteers, Nathan Fernandes (who was previously a member of QO, now BOK) ran a workshop for ten orienteers interested in providing wheelchair accessible courses.
Judy and Roger Craddock report...
Nathan, who has a physical disability, presented the programme with Katy Dyer entitled ‘Making Urban Orienteering Inclusive’. The venue was the village hall at Witcombe, nr Gloucester on Saturday, 26th Jan and included discussion on the challenges and problems experienced by people with physical disabilities attending urban events.
Nathan told us about his experiences by using a Go-Pro video of a Bristol area, samples of street maps, and MapRun courses. Gates, cars parked on yellow lines, barriers, inclines, steps all illustrated the difficulties that planners need to be aware of in designing courses that may be offered alongside able-bodied ones. Most clubs are prepared to amend their urban events to accommodate such a course provided advance notice is given! Some of the ‘adventures’ Nathan has had included control boxes out of reach, sites in muddy parkland, steep camber/kerbs (Nathan has to be strapped in his mobility vehicle and if he tumbles he relies on a kind member of the public to up-right him!). If events can be started near a railway or bus station he is well known at Bristol Parkway Station.
The value of the recent MapRun events that have been put on by SW Clubs was discussed, especially the QO version where advantage is taken of smaller areas by using blue and red control loops. Street events where controls or descriptions are used are more of a problem for wheelchair users. These could be assessed and scored for route and control selection by using Strava or other GPS apps on ‘smart’ phones.
Inclusivity for individuals with learning difficulties was not covered. it was thought this was an area for future discussion.
Progress towards implementing the ideas from this workshop would become evident in Risk Assessments and a rising awareness by planners and organizers of hazards at urban events. It is unlikely that there would be a great demand for such courses but as with junior courses at our club events we need to be prepared to cater for all ages, groups, abilities and mobilities.
- Judy and Roger Craddock
Read about Nath's successes as a QO junior, in Trail O, the other track-based, disability-friendly orienteering format: