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How to keep the kids happy during Summer is always a challenge (and I say this from personal experience!). In my day it was Lego, bike rides, and climbing over the fence to the tennis courts with my mates.

These days there are an overwhelming number of other adventurous options, including theme parks, Scout camps, Holiday Camps, Crafting activities, and Sports Camps.But sometimes some of the fun is taken out of these experiences if there are failures to consider the accessibility and inclusion.

I have been involved with cases involving membership organisations where volunteers are not aware or their legal obligations towards children with hidden and visible disabilities.

5 years ago I represented Ben Gleeson and his family after Ben was told by his scout group that he could not go to camp or take part in athletics without supervision.

Scout pack leaders said Ben could not travel with the rest of the group on a bus to events or participate in athletics. They also said he had to have one-to-one supervision at other events. Ben’s family claimed that this singled Ben out and discriminated against him for having Autism. When this was challenged by the family, the reaction from his local Scout leaders was defensive and also resulted in ‘outing’ Ben’s hidden disability to other parents.

We brought a claim for disability discrimination and breach of data protection and privacy. The claim was settled with a payment of £42,000. The Scout Association apologised and announced an inquiry to investigate what went wrong in this case as well as mandatory training for all adult volunteers on how to make reasonable adjustments for young people with developmental disabilities. 

Membership Organisations and service providers are required to plan their activities to consider what adjustments might be necessary for children with different needs, so that they can be as inclusive as possible. Essentially a disability impact assessment. In legal terms, it’s not an excuse to say that the people running the activities are volunteers. Everybody should be properly trained and disability confident.

Assumptions on disability are also unwise. I have helped a blind Wakeboarder with access to a watersports site where the owners believed he wouldn’t be able to do it safely without due consideration. Questioning potential ‘customers’ or attendees about their needs in advance shifts the burden to service providers to find solutions. There are plenty of resources available online, but also a discussion in advance with the families of disabled participants is always useful.

Service providers hosting events need to make sure that they are wheelchair accessible with step free access, that they have wheelchair accessible or changing places toilet and catering facilities and an adequate evacuation plan.

They may need to ensure that working hearing loop, talking lifts and quiet spaces are available, and that information is available in British Sign Language and Easy Read.

Swimming pools and waterparks should be selected with appropriate cranes and changing facilities.

In terms of pricing It is not ok for additional costs to be passed on to disabled attendees, and care support assistants should typically be allowed to attend on a two for one basis. Service Providers are not required to let disabled people attend for free however.

So what does this mean to you? E-mail in advance of attendance to let the service provider know what your needs are so that they can make any reasonable adjustments necessary. If things go wrong on the day, take photos, names and any information and follow it up with a complaint. I can provide template complaint letters which often help change outcomes without having to ‘go legal’.

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