Obvius Access

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"Surfability" it's turned the tide for Disabled Surfers

By David W Bedwell of Obvius Access Disability Access Consultants 


Exclusivity of the surf has vanished it no longer exists thanks to the provision of availability and accessibility that is provided by Surfability for everybody,  Whatever the degree of disability or impairment a person may suffer from Surfability provides accessibility to the waves  the joy and the exhilaration of surfing and it is there for all thanks to Surfability. The Disabled Surfers Association in Australia is certainly putting smiles on dials. 

How did I a typical English Town Dweller first become aware of the creation and progression of Sufability you may ask? It started with my first day at work in Australia I had little knowledge of the importance of Surfing to the lives and in particular the recreational activities of coastal dwelling Australians. During the process of introduction to my colleagues two empty desks were explained as being empty as “Snapper must be pumping.” Next day I met the two missing surfers, and my interest in Surfing began. Through living close to the Beach I began to see more and more of the sport and over the years have been able to witness some tremendous contests and performances by some of the worlds leading male and female surfers. 

For over forty years I have worked in the Construction Industry in a professional capacity, and have been a design team member on numerous projects specifically designed and constructed for people with disabilities and impairments. As such I have gained a personal and practical in depth knowledge of the difficulties experienced by people with disabilities regarding accessibility and discrimination. My work and my writing are focused upon increasing awareness worldwide of these difficulties and seeking improvements in equitable accessibility and inclusive communities for all people.  

I am pleased to say that better legislation worldwide has increased awareness and the requirement for compliance with accessibility standards for equitable access to buildings and open spaces and reduced the level of discrimination as a result. There still remains the need for further major improvement. Sport has been a welcome contributor to the awareness of the fact that impairment of any kind should not be a reason for non participation in all sports. The Paralympics over the years has steadily grown in popularity with increasing participating numbers of Nations and Athletes for each event. 

Surfers are yet to be included in the Paralympics. It is my belief that if the Winter Paralympics inclusion of downhill skiing and sledging continues it can only be a matter of time before the first surfing event is introduced. In the meantime Surfability provides the opportunity for people with disabilities and impairments to be introduced to the surf and to experience the waves and the beach side for the first time, and maybe by becoming a regular surfer help to provide the encouragement for others to follow and join in Surfability. 

I encourage anybody with disabilities or impairments to read my previous article which describes how a typical Surfability “Hands on Day” is organized in a safe and friendly manner. The article I believe should provide the confidence required to consider favorably a visit to a Surfability event and if it is appealing try it out, and let me know. Its at 


David W Bedwell ACAA is a director of Obvius Access DDA Accessibility Access Consultant and DDA Management Planner. He has published other articles specifically related to the participation in Sport and Recreation at all levels by people with disabilities and impairments from the village cricketer to the Paralympics. David believes you will find them interesting at the Obvius Access web-site www.accessconsultant.com.au  


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