My inclusion tips from 2019

Back in 2018 I created the Inclusion Tips email series. Since then I’ve been delivering tips every Monday to the inboxes of subscribers from all corners of the globe.

At the end of 2018 I also decided to collate all the tips I delivered that year and post them in one place to make it easy to access them. 

You can see all my Inclusion Tips from 2018 here.

In that post I also explain why I decided to publish all the tips.

So, once again I’ve pulled together all the tips I created and added to the Inclusion Tips email series in 2019.

If you would like to subscribe to my weekly Inclusion Tips just click the button below.

A note before you start exploring the tips. Some are long, some are short, some have links to more resources and content. While there is a huge amount of valuable information I don’t recommend you read all of them at once. So maybe bookmark this page and come back every now and then.

Also, while one or two of the tips refer to each other you can read them in pretty much any order so skim the headings and check out the ones that seem interesting to you.

Enjoy, share, but most of all take action!

Just click the heading to reveal the tip.

“Failing to plan is planning to fail.”

You have no doubt heard this quote famously attributed to Benjamin Franklin. It’s true though, having a clear and well thought out plan of action can increase your chances of success when it comes to achieving your organisation’s goals. This goes for inclusion as well.

So why have an inclusion action plan?

Well its simple really, action plans help keep you on track. To be more specific action plans enable you to:

  • Establish accountability
  • Clarify responsibility
  • Provide deadlines
  • Foster commitment

So, when it comes to achieving your goals for inclusion it’s no different. It is vital to have a plan that defines your organisation’s commitment to inclusion and articulates the things you are going to do to bring that commitment to life.

Does your sport club or organisation have an inclusion action plan? Maybe you have an action plan specific to a particular group in your community such people with disability or first nations people. If you do I would love to see it! So, head over to the Facebook page and post a link to your Inclusion Action Plan for the ISD community to see.

If your club or organisation doesn’t yet have an Inclusion Action Plan, there is no better time than now to start working on one. Some sage advice though, before you go jumping into writing an inclusion action plan it’s important to recognise that to be successful there are some important steps to take before putting pen to paper. In fact, writing your action plan document is the end-point, not the start.

To help I have created the Inclusion Action Plans That Work course just for you. This course walks you through, step-by-step, the process of developing an effective inclusion action plan for your sports club or organisation. So go ahead and check it out if you would like a little help to get your inclusion action plan in place.

Click here for more info and to enrol.

Have you heard of Universal Design?

Today’s Inclusion Tip is a quick intro to Universal Design but if you want to skip the summary and go straight to more detail click here.

In brief, Universal design is the design of products and environments that can be used by everyone, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialised design.The aim of universal design is to provide one solution that can accommodate all people. There are 7 principles:

  • PRINCIPLE ONE: Equitable Use
  • PRINCIPLE TWO: Flexibility in Use
  • PRINCIPLE THREE: Simple and Intuitive Use
  • PRINCIPLE FOUR: Perceptible Information
  • PRINCIPLE FIVE: Tolerance for Error
  • PRINCIPLE SIX: Low Physical Effort
  • PRINCIPLE SEVEN: Size and Space for Approach and Use

Each principle comes with a set of guidelines to help you design pretty much anything in a way which puts the person and their individual needs at the centre of the process, right from the get go. Compared to say trying to come up with ways to include people after the fact.

In sport you can apply the Universal Design principles in the planning of facilities, activities, programs and a whole host of other things.

For more details and examples of Universal Design in sport and recreation setting check out my blog post here.

Does the way you promote your club or sport organisation speak to the diversity in your community?

If people can’t relate to your marketing messages they are not likely to feel like your club or organisation is the place for them. In other words if people can’t see themselves as part of what you do then they are not likely to engage, in some cases they may feel outright excluded.

To make your marketing more inclusive ask yourself these questions:

  • Do we use images of diverse population groups present in our community? (E.g. People with disability, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, people from different ethnic backgrounds, difference genders, different ages)
  • Do we use languages other than English in marketing materials?
  • Do we advertise in a wide range of platforms and mediums? (E.g. To community service organisations that support diverse population groups, non-English publications and media outlets, aged care facilities, special schools etc.)
  • Do we use words phrases and statements that may offend or alienate some people?
  • Do we actually say everyone is welcome?

Use this as a start point and see how you can make your marketing more inclusive!

Does your club or organisation have partners in the community?

If you took action on my Community Partners tips that I sent you a few weeks back then hopefully the answer is yes!

If you do, you may need to make the relationship a little more formal. That’s where the MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) comes in.

Establishing an MOU is a little more challenging than just a simple handshake, tip of the hat, style agreement but not as scary and formal as a legal contract. It is a documented agreement between two or more parties that sets out mutual goals and responsibilities around a common objective. This is a good way to make your partnership more formal and set clear parameters for how you will work together.

There are two resources I suggest your check out to help you take action on putting an MOU in place with your partners.

Good luck with this one!

In this tip I’m simply sharing with you some resources that may help you take action on physical access in the facilities your club or organisation uses.

Free resources and reference material:

Paid services and consultants:

There you go, some handy references for you. You might want to save these links or bookmark them somewhere for easy reference later.

Women’s sport, in Australia particularly, is experiencing considerable growth. However, there still remains an imbalance compared to men’s experience in sport.

Overall, gender differences exist when it comes to the rate of participation and range of opportunities to get involved. Women remain less represented in leadership and coaching roles and face continued challenges in terms of equal pay and coverage in the media. There are many reasons for this and most relate to social and cultural factors. In our sporting environments it is suggested that gender bias may be limiting female participation on and off the field of play.

To skip the tips and get more detail read my blog post here.

So, how can you make your sport more inclusive of female participants?

As sports administrators, club committees and even coaches it’s important to have an understanding and awareness of the barriers and motivations related to female involvement in organised sport. This allows you to then identify ways you can make changes to the culture, environment and activities you offer to encourage and increase participation. Find out more about the barriers ad motivations here.

Whether your goal is to increase female membership in your club, increase female participation in your programs or get more women into leadership roles here are some handy tips you can take action on straight away.

Advocate for equal representation

If a girl’s or women’s competition doesn’t exist start asking for it. Advocate and petition your sport organisation to get new pathways opened up for female participants. If your club doesn’t have female teams or options that include them start setting it up!

Create a safe and welcoming place

Create an environment where women and girls feel comfortable, safe, valued and involved. This might mean changes need to be made to social, cultural and even physical aspects of the environment.

Emphasise and support social aspects

Research suggests female participation is influenced by a sport experience that encourages socialising and fun. So make sure this is part of the experience. If your culture is only about winning and competition you may need to re-evaluate things.

Offer alternative formats

Offering options that are less competitive or non-competitive could encouraging increased participation by women and girls. Also less traditional forms of sport are attractive to female participants. But, there should also be avenues to develop skills and progress. So think about way you could offer things in new ways that focus on health fitness and fun as well as competition.

Ask for input and feedback

When people are involved in determining what their sport participation looks like they are more likely to engage and stay engaged. So include the opinions and experiences of female participants in devising the planning and design of sport activities. Plus provide the opportunity to receive feedback from female participants and importantly listen and take action to meet their needs.

For more on this topic read my blog post here.

In this tip I wanted to share some examples of how you can use video to effectively promote your sport for inclusion (whether a club or association, local to national).

Here’s what I think makes an effective video to promote your sport for inclusion:

1. Includes a simple clear message – an invitation, call to action or a ‘showcase’

2. Spoken by and speaks directly to the intended target market

3. The focus is on the sport and why its good to be involved

4. Includes a call to action – the viewer is told what to to next

Bonus tip: Don’t forget closed captions (subtitles)

Here’s just a few examples:

Lets start with Tennis

Now Gymnastics

Gymnastics for Life

How about Lawn Bowls

Werribee BC inclusoin video

Why don’t you have a crack at making your own video to promote your sport club or organisation. All you need is a camera, the right person and the right message.

Know any good examples? share them on the ISD Facebook page here or tag a video with @IncSportDesign.

This tip comes from Lowell Ryan. Lowell is from Ireland and is studying Health and Leisure with Adapted Physical Activity. Even though he is just at the start of his career Lowell is already getting his head around some very important things that contribute to inclusive sport success.

Here’s Lowell’s tip:

“During my studies this semester I have been carrying out an initiative which aims to include asylum seekers in my community through physical activity over a ten week programme. Originally, I wanted to include a range of activities in this programme, such as boxing, circuit classes, walking and running, football and Irish sports such as Gaelic football. I started off with boxing and circuit classes but the men I was working with weren’t showing up for these sessions. When I started playing football with them, they all started to come and all they wanted to do is kick a ball around. We played football for the rest of the sessions because that’s what they wanted to do.

So my tip for inclusion would be that inclusion needs to occur in accordance with the wishes of those we aim to include. I wanted to implement a variety of activities, but nobody would have showed up. Forcing inclusion on someone is not inclusion and we need to consider what they enjoy when planning for inclusion. Getting feedback from those involved is crucial. No matter how beneficial we believe an activity is for someone, if they don’t have a desire to do it, then it’s not going to be a positive experience.”

This tip illustrates the importance of getting to know the needs and wants of the people you are seeking to involve in your sport programs. I call this understanding your Target Market and it is a fundamental element of planning effective inclusive sport programs.

Lowell proves the value of getting in and taking action, because through his real experience he has learnt a valuable lesson that he can implement in his future work. (and now you can too!)

Thanks Lowell for this great tip and keep up the great work!

In sport I think there is a mixed understanding of disability and indeed how to best define and talk about it. So today’s tip is a bit of a thought bubble about how we should all be thinking about disability.

But first a quick thought experiment.

Clear your mind. Now think about disability. What comes to mind? What words, ideas, images, stories does this conjure up for you? How do you define it?

Now park those thoughts.

Now this:

According to the World Health Organisation disability is used as an umbrella term, covering impairments, activity limitations, and participation restrictions. So what does that all mean? Here’s a quick summary:

  • Impairment is a problem in body function or structure
  • Activity limitation is a difficulty encountered by an individual in executing a task or action
  • Participation restriction is a problem experienced by an individual in involvement in life situations

The first point is firmly rooted in the Medical Model of disability. While the second two points are closely connected with a key underpinning principle, the Social Model of disability. The social model of disability states that a person is disabled by factors that are external to them. Things like societal attitudes, environments, policies and cultures that limit, separate and diminish a person with a disability. In simple terms people are not disabled by their health condition but rather by a world that has not been designed or does not cater for them. Applying the social model approach leads us away from focusing on a person’s or diagnosis or health condition (and a focus on limitations) and towards acknowledging a person’s whole life experience (and focusing on who a person is, what they enjoy, value and contribute to the world).

How does this relate to any of the thoughts you had earlier?

Here’s the key message:

Disability, rather than just being an indicator of a health problem, is part of a person’s life experience. It encompasses physical and functional attributes of a person’s body as well as interactions with society, including interactions within sport settings. And it is these interactions with society where we can make the greatest impact when it come to inclusion. We may not be able to change a persons “body function or structure” but we can darn well change the level of difficulty and restriction a person faces in society. When it comes to sport, that is completely in our hands.

Language reflects and shapes the way we view the world. The words we use can influence community attitudes in a positive or negative way and can impact on the lives of others.

How we write and speak about different people can have a profound effect on the way they are viewed by the community. Some words, by their very nature, degrade and diminish people. Certainly, this is the case for people with disability but the same can be said for many other groups of people.

Some words perpetuate inaccurate stereotypes, removing entirely a person’s individuality and humanity. These words end up being used as labels to separate, segregate and limit those people. You no doubt can recall many of these words and phrases.

This labelling influences our perceptions by focusing only on one aspect of a person (usually one they have no control over like impairment, gender, ethnicity, age etc.) and ignores all the other amazing things about them.

So… how do you avoid the labelling, dehumanising, segregating language? Simple…


Use this as your rule of thumb to ensure inclusive language.

For more on this, take a look at my Guide to Inclusive Language in Sport for people with Disability. I also provide a handy downloadable resource to share around your club or sport organisation.

Today’s tip is simply me sharing the Guidelines for the inclusion of transgender and gender diverse people in sport developed by the Australian Human Rights Commission (the Commission), in partnership with Sport Australia and the Coalition of Major Professional and Participation Sports (COMPPS).

The guidelines were published in June 2019 and provide guidance to sporting organisations on promoting the inclusion and participation of transgender and gender diverse people in sport.

Here’s the summary provided by the Commission:

The Guidelines provide: information about the operation of the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth) (the Act) in relation to: unlawful and permissible discrimination on the basis of sex and gender identity sexual harassment victimisation practical guidance for promoting inclusion in line with fundamental human rights-based principles: equality participation in sport freedom from discrimination and harassment privacy. Sporting organisations should ensure they are familiar with sections 5 and 6 of the Guidelines which outline how inclusion can be promoted through:

    • leadership
    • inclusion policies
    • codes of conduct
    • uniforms
    • facilities
    • approaches to the collection and use of personal information.

You can find these guidelines and other useful resources at the links below.

This tip comes from Lisa Drennen. Lisa is a very experienced inclusion consultant at MERGE Diverse Abilities Inclusion Consulting based in the USA.

Here’s what Lisa has to share with you.

“I love this idea! The hard part is coming up with just one tip 😉. So I’ve decided to go with with a tip that I recommend in almost every one of my inclusion trainings no matter the setting – use of a visual schedule. I am attaching a sample visual schedule as well as the directions on how to use them. These are pieces I’ve created in partnership with the National US Lacrosse. The project is called “Creative Coaching” it is a series of resources developed as tools to assist coaches to be more inclusive in their practices to be able to welcome, engage and support players with diverse abilities into their traditional team. I’ve done training for coaches, camp staff, counsellors, fitness instructors, librarians, recreation staff, town personnel, etc…. in all these settings I believe whether working with adults, teens or children, everyone can benefit from the use of a visual schedule. When used properly it can tap into different types of learners as well. Let me know if any questions or if you’d like further information on this tip.”

So there you are guys. Check out the resources that Lisa has so kindly shared by clicking the links below. If you want more information, go ahead and connect with Lisa over at



Thanks Lisa for this super useful tip and resources and keep up the great work!

Remember, if you have an amazing tip like Lisa please reply to this email and share what you know!

Here’s a question. Does your club have an inclusion officer? If not, this week’s tip is for you.

Before we dive into the role of an inclusion officer it is important to reinforce that inclusion is the responsibility of everyone in the club. From the players to coaches to volunteers and the committee or board, everyone needs to understand they have a role to play in ensuring everyone feels welcomed and supported.

All members in the club have a role in ensuring discrimination and harassment is not tolerated and that action is taken if they see it happen. Also, everyone in the club can do their part by ensuring everyone feels welcome, safe and valued and by raising inclusion issues when they arise.

So, appointing a Club Inclusion Officer isn’t about making one single person solely responsible for all things inclusion.

What is the role of a Club inclusion officer?

A Club Inclusion Officer’s role is to ensure all current and prospective members feel welcome and included in the club community. They act as an important point of contact for existing and prospective members, they ensure action is taken on inclusion issues like identifying barriers to participation, creating new opportunities for people to get involved and connecting with people and organisations in the local area that reflect the diversity of the community.They will also be responsible for monitoring the clubs progress towards achieving it’s inclusion objectives and goals. Plus, they will report on this progress to the club’s board or committee and members. The Club Inclusion Officer should be considered a very important position in the club’s organisational and administrative structure.

What kind of person are you looking for?

Your ideal candidate should have the following skills and attributes:

  • ability to communicate confidently
  • ability to build positive and lasting relationships
  • understand the diversity of the local community or express a willingness find out
  • understand participation options and sport pathways
  • ability to motivate and lead others
  • is eager to deal with with a diverse range of people
  • is very approachable and friendly
  • is empathetic and accepting of difference
  • is a good listener is enthusiastic about the club, its members and local community
  • is a role model respected by members and wider community

I’d like to challenge you and your club to go out and recruit a Club Inclusion Officer this month.

If you need some more guidance on the process then I do recommend you enrol in my Inclusive Club Kick Starter course. This course involves seven challenges designed to help set your club up for inclusion success. And guess what, challenge two walks you through the process of recruiting a Club Inclusion Officer. It includes complete instructions plus a role description template.

Find out more about the Inclusive Club Kick Starter.

Over the course of 5 weeks I delivered a series of tips about planning effective inclusive sport programs. In this series I shared my 5 fundamental elements of inclusion programs.

Rather than share each of these tips separately here I’ve collated them all into one super informative blog post.

Click here to read the full post.

I had the pleasure of hearing the Australian e-Safety Commissioner Julie Inman-Grant speak at the 2019 Diveristy and Inclusion in Sport Forum. For me this brought into sharp focus the fact that humans are spending more and more time online, so we all need to be savvy about how we use technology and the internet. This goes for sport organisations and clubs too.

In fact I have seen first hand some of the pitfalls and challenges faced by young people in sport, particuallry around appropriate use of social media. I’m sure you have too.

Sporting organisations and clubs have an important role to play particulalry in keeping children and young people safe online. And, as we know, the safer we feel the more welcome we feel.

So this week’s tip shares some of the useful tools and resources provided by the Australian e-Safety Commissioner.

(For our international ISD community members there will be some very useful and relevant tools and resources here, however for a local context I highly reccomend you seek out the equivelant agency where you are or seek out local experts to advise you before taking action.)

You can simply head to and start exploring. However, here’s some super useful resourses that I’ve pulled out to help you on your way.

Start here: Info for sporting organisations and community groups.

Download and take action on this: Guide to promoting an e-safe club culture.

Download and share this: Creating a team culture of online safety – coaches.

Then consider booking this free training for your club or sport organisation.

Online safety is a big issue so definately check these resources out so you can ensure a safer and more welcoming place in your sport club or organisation, online and offline.

I was recently enlighted about a wonderful model that helps leaders understand the “shadows” they cast in their organisations when it come to inclusion and diversity.

The model is a result of work led by Chief Executive Women in collaboration with Male Champions of Change.

Here’s how it works.

The Leadership Shadow assist every leader to become a champion of diversity and inclusion. It comprises four elements:

  1. what we say
  2. how we act
  3. what we prioritise
  4. how we measure

Collectively these things ultimately determine what gets done (and what doesn’t).

As we know, in order to take action on inclusion and diversity we have to do more than have good intentions and the Leadership Shadow gives us that sometimes elusive starting point.

This model is designed around gender equity however I think it can apply generally to inclusion of other groups.

Now, I’m not going to delve into the details of this idea in an email, so I highly recommend you check out the resource produced by Chief Executive Women for more on this. Plus they offer a Leadership Shadow workshop, which you may like to consider.

Which tip is your favourite? Tell us which one and why in the comments.

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