11th February 2009, 9:45am
Fitness accessible to all at University of Lincoln
University Sports Centre The University of Lincoln’s Sports Centre has received official recognition for its high standards of accessibility for disabled users.

Lincoln has become the first University in the East Midlands to achieve Inclusive Fitness Initiative (IFI) accreditation for its sports facilities.

The IFI is a national project which encourages the fitness and leisure industry to become more inclusive for disabled people.

The University’s Sports Centre received the IFI Provisional Level accreditation after making a series of adaptations over the past two years.

To achieve this status, the Sports Centre was assessed by a team from the IFI who drew up an action plan. This document detailed ways in which the facilities could be adapted to be more inclusive – from small cosmetic changes to major new pieces of equipment.

Disabled car parking spaces have been expanded and re-painted with clearer markings. Signs throughout the centre have been replaced with larger, more distinct text accompanied by pictures. Changing rooms have been adapted and lockers repositioned to make them easier for wheelchair users to access.

Inside the gym, colour-coded strips have been fitted to exercise bikes and cross trainers to make them easier to use for visually-impaired people. Tactile buttons have also been fitted to some pieces equipment, replacing flat display screens which can be difficult to see.

The University has also purchased an upper body ergometer – a piece of equipment which allows people without mobility in their legs to get a thorough cardiovascular workout – and a range of resistance bands and weights specially designed for disabled people.

Sports centre staff have received extra training so that they can provide safe and effective programmes for disabled users and can adapt exercises if necessary.

Helen Evans, Sports Facilities Manager at the University of Lincoln, said: “The number of disabled students using the facilities is increasing and we are hoping it will continue to do so as more people become aware of the work we have been doing. The training that the staff have received through this accreditation has been a real benefit. It has been challenging but very rewarding as well.”

The official launch was held on Tuesday 10 February at the University sports centre, where a plaque was formally unveiled by Chair of the Board of Governors Graham Secker.

Amy Smith, Regional Inclusive Activator for the Inclusive Fitness Initiative, also gave a speech about the accreditation.

She said: “The IFI Mark is a nationally recognised mark of quality, recognising facilities that provide a truly inclusive environment. It is a pleasure to be involved with the launch of the University of Lincoln as an accredited site, having witnessed first-hand the hard work and commitment demonstrated by the staff to achieve it. As the Regional Activator for the East Midlands, I am thrilled that we now have our very first accredited University in the region.”

For more information on the Inclusive Fitness Initiative, visit www.inclusivefitness.org.
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