Employees should be trained in providing them with adult supervision while they take part in the activities here. Swimming pools of various sizes and depth levels can be included in this location. Daycare facilities can also be located on this floor, or close to it. It is important to include an intercom system from the children's and daycare floors, so that parents can be notified instantly if a child is in need of direct parental intervention. Baby changing rooms, and breastfeeding space can also be provided on these floors. Children's restrooms should be provided on a smaller size scale than adult facilities.
Young adults and adults can be accommodated near the middle of the building, with their various activities and needs catered for on these floors. Normal-sized indoor swimming can also be arranged here.
Basically, no less than three floors should be used to integrate the various needs of the public that will use the facility. The bottom floor for those with physical difficulties such as disability and old age, the middle floor for the mainstream citizen, and the top floor for children. Each floor can then also be divided according to the various activities and persons targeted for these activities. In order to facilitate everyone's participation in the various activities, the leisure centre should print a brochure and map of the activities offered by the centre. These should be printed in the languages represented in the community, as well as in Braille and in large print for those with visual disabilities.
Each floor should also be equipped with a general help desk in order to help persons with queries or difficulties they may experience. Each user should be fully aware of where to find the help desk. The one on the bottom floor for example can be shown by large, clear signs and lettering, to help the physically and mentally disabled to find it. When signing up for the service, each user should be made aware of each help desk and the types of queries that they will be able to take to the help desks. Persons at each help desk should be trained in a targeted way in order to deal with the specific citizen sector expected on their floors.
In general, personnel should be trained not only in help desk issues, but also in their ability to deal with the public and their various needs. Personnel working with the disabled for example should be highly sensitive to their needs and the difficulties they face during everyday life. They should for example be sensitive to a disabled person's need for help without being invasive or overbearing in providing such help.
While it is important to understand that some activities and equipment should be provided separately in order to provide optimal enjoyment to each citizen, the local authority should also operate from an understanding that citizens from various areas of life will also need to interact with each other at the centre. In this way, diversity and acceptance in society are promoted. The danger of separating all activities in the leisure centre is therefore that especially those with disabilities will feel that they are somehow not "good enough" to enjoy the same facilities as the mainstream adults.
A solution to this issue could be the creation of various activities to include all citizens participating in the leisure centre. Leisure and informative hikes can for example be arranged for all citizens. Educational videos and talks are also an idea for integrated activities that all citizens can enjoy. These should be of a wide enough variety to appeal to the interest of as many people as possible, regardless of disability level or age. Sign language interpreters and guide dogs should be provided and used where appropriate. Emphasis should be placed upon dignity and privacy, where these are issues.
Programme for Ergonomic Needs of Users and Operators
Employers at leisure centres should always take into account the factor of non-discrimination. No potential employee may be turned away from a job opportunity only on the basis of age or disability. However, potential employees should always keep in mind that they have to be able to do the work in question, even taking into account their disability (Public Employment Office, 1999). A hearing impaired person is for example as unlikely to provide phone messaging services as a blind person is to operate display equipment such as computers. In such cases, it would be irresponsible for an employer to appoint the employees in question.
If an employee however does qualify, the employer is obliged to give him or her a chance in the workplace. This could also work in the employer's favour, as workers from the disabled sector of society can help to integrate clients with the same disabilities into leisure activities in a targeted and sensitive manner.
The employer is then also obliged to provide disabled workers with modifications that will help them to function optimally in the workplace (Public Employment Office, 1999). The most important element in this regard is workplace access. Employee entrances, just as client entrances, should therefore be made wheelchair-friendly. Entries should for example be widened, while door handles that might be difficult to manage should be minimized. Employees should also be provided with wheelchair facilities in personnel bathrooms. Workstations modifications could again include a wide enough space to accommodate equipment such as wheelchairs, walking sticks, or crutches. The seating arrangements of people with physical disabilities should be made as comfortable as possible. Chairs that are used for computer or deskwork for example should be stable enough so that a person can transfer him- or herself into it from a wheelchair in as comfortable a way as possible. Blind employees can be provided with a fellow employee to guide them through their duties for the first months of employment, in order to orient themselves with regard to the location of all the facilities. Employing disabled persons will help to sensitize other employees to the needs and requirements of disabled clients making use of the centre.
It should not however be overlooked that able-bodied employees also have a variety of needs regarding the workplace. Computers should for example be positioned at a comfortable position, so as to minimize discomfort and strain. Regular breaks and blood flow stimulating activities should be encouraged for persons who are at a computer for any length of time during the workday. Air-conditioning should be placed at appropriate locations in order to minimize worker discomfort.
Both disabled and mainstream employees can therefore form part of a program to help employees become sensitive to the needs of both the disabled and the mainstream client. Such a program can entail a variety of aspects. A complaints department can for example help to sensitize the manager to areas where disabled persons have difficulty accessing or using the facilities allocated to them. Disabled employees can be used as spokespersons for clients in the same predicament. Complaints can also be submitted via anonymous cards that clients are asked to fill out after a session at the leisure centre.
In order to promote the fact that the leisure centre is focused upon diversity and inclusive service, a variety of marketing strategies can also be used. It can for example be mentioned in advertisements that wheelchair access, disability services and other features are available for clients with special needs.
Other elements that might include this focus on integration can for example be company slogans or logos. It is important that the focus be maintained in a subtle and sensitive way, without accomplishing the opposite of the aim: to provide as comfortable a visit as possible to the leisure centre.
Indeed, several leisure centres do promote the fact that they incorporate disabled facilities. One of these is the Putney Leisure Centre, offering specially allocated parking, lifts, toilets, showers and changing areas for the disabled (Wandsworth Borough Council, 2007). However, the web site includes little with regard to activities specifically catering to the needs of disabled people.
The Crystal Leisure Centre (Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council, 2005-2007), offers a variety of services and facilities for the disabled. As indicated by their Web site, the centre welcomes all disabled people to the facility, doing its best to adhere to its policy of integration and maximum enjoyment for all. Facilities for the disabled at this centre include wide entrance doors, toilet and changing facilities, a public lift, access to all the floors in the facility, acceptance of guide dogs, a pool hoist for access to the Training pool, a chair for access to the Leisure pool, hearing loops and a club specifically targeted at persons with disabilities. The staff at the centre is also reported to be particularly helpful towards those with disabilities.
We live in a time where integration and tolerance are of maximum importance. It is therefore vital that all areas of life should be made as inclusive as possible…