Boosting inclusion for bowlers with communication disability

By Tenpin Bowling Australia
October 31, 2023

Written and supplied by Scope Australia

From bowling to football and skiing to powerlifting, Australians love their sport. The latest AusPlay survey data shows that in 2022, Australians spent more than $16 billion on participating in sports and physical activity.

Australia is also known for being a leader in inclusive sport – making sports more widely accessible for all people, including those with disability. AusPlay data from the previous year revealed that 52% of adults with disability participate in sport or physical activity at least three times per week.

Tenpin Bowling Australia (TBA) is proud to be among the sporting bodies blazing a trail in access and inclusion. Alongside key initiatives that aim to increase physical access to bowling, TBA has also begun to trial communication access initiatives – and excitingly, there’s more we can do in this space!

What is communication access?

Communication disability can look different for everyone. For example, for some, it may mean not being able to use speech, whilst for others it may mean needing extra time to process spoken and written information. 

When businesses and services are communication accessible, it means their customer-facing staff are aware of communication disabilities and can use the right communication strategies and tools with customers. At its heart, it is about ensuring everyone in the community is respected, heard and supported.

For the 1.2 million Australians with communication difficulties, the presence of communication access can make or break their ability to use essential services and connect with their communities through activities like sport.  

Getting TBA members started with communication access

TBA is proud to have participated in the Together More Active initiative in partnership with Scope, one of Australia’s leading disability providers. With grant funding, Scope worked with TBA to develop tailored communication access resources for use by participating TBA members.

In addition, Scope has developed these top tips for all TBA clubs to start being communication accessible today!

Five tips for communication access

These tips are simple and can be used right now – share them with your staff teams and let us know how you got on!

  1. Speak directly to the person with a communication disability – if they are with someone else, don’t just talk to the person accompanying them.
  2. Ask “yes” or “no” questions. You might need to check how the person says “yes” and “no” first, for example by asking them to show you how they communicate these words and confirming you have understood.
  3. Be patient and give the person time to communicate. Don’t interrupt or try to finish their sentences.
  4. Don’t pretend to understand – ask the person to repeat or tell you in a different way.
  5. Speak naturally – don’t assume the person has difficulty understanding you.

Want to know more?

Head over to Scope’s website for further communication and access information and resources.  Scope is also a TBA app member, so feel free to send them a message on the app. If you would like to know more the Communication Access Project between Scope and TBA contact Emily Rennes at [email protected].