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Equal access to sport is a significant need

Blind and Low Vision Tennis Championships, 2021. PHOTO: Facebook/ Tennis Victoria

WHILST the Paralympics has come to a close, all ability opportunities to compete and be successful in sport is ongoing at Blind Sports and Recreation Victoria (BSRV).

The non-profit organisation encourages meaningful inclusivity by tailoring sports and recreation programs for the likes of blind and vision-impaired Victorians. 

CEO and president of Blind Sports Victoria, Maurice Gleeson believes diversity in sport needs to be substantial.

“Often people will create sport or recreation programs that offer inclusivity but not in a meaningful way,” he said. 

“By meaningful participation, I mean adapting the activity where possible, to involve the person who is blind or vision impaired.” 

The organisation modifies sport and recreational programs through an all hands-on deck approach, collaborating with volunteers, organisers, and instructors.

“It often comes down to the person driving the inclusion,” said Mr Gleeson. 

“If they are really committed to it, they must learn and understand the situation.

“We have to learn from each other.”

BSVR categorise athletes by the level of visual impairment and supply a range of adaptive equipment to aid performance. 

The personal approach is part of the organisation’s meaningful inclusivity ethos.

Blind Sports and Recreation participant Genamarie enjoys the BSRV walking program, which involves exploring tactile and aromatic environments. VIDEO: Youtube/ Blind Sports & Recreation Victoria.

BSRV participant Steve Obeid started losing his vision at 13, which critically affected his ability to play mainstream football and realise his life-long goal of playing for Australia.

“It had a big impact on my life… I thought my vision impairment would stop me from achieving that dream,” he said.

At 16 years of age, Mr Obeid decided to pursue blind and vision-impaired football. 

The opportunity to participate and be successful has been a game-changer.  

“Finding blind and vision-impaired football felt like a second chance at playing the sport I grew up playing and loved passionately,” he said. 

Mr Obeid is now part of the National Squad. 

“Blind football has allowed me to achieve my lifelong goal.”

BSRV is the only recognised sporting association for athletes who are blind and vision-impaired in Victoria.

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Tia Haralabakos

Tia Haralabakos is a Media & Communications student at Monash University specialising in Journalism and human rights. She is interested in the multi-faceted landscape of digital media, particularly addressing challenges to online reporting like diversity and content moderation. Tia’s journalistic interests include human rights and social affairs.

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