Inclusive Adventure by Design (Paul 2010)
Inclusive adventure by design: The development of opportunities in outdoor sport for disabled people through co-ordinated people centred research and development in design and coaching
Structured to help readers from a range of disciplines, the thesis looks at the creation of opportunities for participation in adventure sport, specifically the development of a postural support for intermediate level performers with spinal cord injury in sea kayaking. The research has shown that it is possible to increase the performance level of disabled athletes in paddle sport through the development of appropriate adaptive equipment, which in turn promotes inclusion and the broadening of opportunities. This research project takes place against a backdrop of national events and developments; notably, changes in UK legislation to do with disability access (DDA 1995), and developments in legislation to do with outdoor safety. The research also takes place against a backdrop of national campaigns, such as the ‘Campaign for Adventure’, and an increasing number of drives to make the UK’s population more active. The broad-based multidisciplinary approach is in line with reported priorities in international disability sport research, while encompassing paddlesport specific criteria. The research takes the approach of design research to develop the product. Initially the reported studies evaluate the design process utilising desk-based research. They then proceed to utilise design methodology in field-based short and longer expedition settings. The design process utilises existing user-centred staged design approaches to explore methods for wider application. The findings reveal that the development of opportunities in adventure sport with disabled people involves engaging with a social mess. The action of problem definition and resolution can be termed in this paradigm as a wicked problem, being that is does not have one clear solution. The information needing to be exchanged in the problem resolution can be considered as sticky, being that the research process takes place in a specialised arena characterised by sparse resources and with a multidisciplinary team. The research has informed the creation of twelve tools to support those practitioners involved in this area. Used from the bottom up or top down, they provide a common language between the participant, coach, therapist and researcher to help educate and inspire each person to understand the true nature of the problem, improve the shared understanding within the team, and thereby reducing the stickiness of the information. The effect on the development of new equipment is to improve focus and user participation, so making it easier to work within the social mess. A new postural support was designed for use by intermediate level sea kayakers with spinal cord injury, the design of which is given in study 9, which is evaluated in study 10. The study suggests that future work in this area should focus on the coordination of sport science support, further exploration of the link between design research and social change, explore the validity of the tools across a broader population, and further develop the design so that the new equipment can be of benefit to the broader population.