Elke Paatz: "Basically, my work is divided into two areas. On the one hand - and this covers the largest part of my duties – it’s my task to inform, enable and support the sailing clubs in setting up and/or expanding inclusive best practices. To this end, I provide information on adaptive sailing through various channels, advise the clubs and create opportunities for exchange between the clubs. I also integrate inclusive sailing into training and further education measures and organise "Inclusive Sailing Day".
On the other hand, I’m responsible for informing people with disabilities about the great inclusive opportunities in our sport and making it easier for them to find their way into the sailing clubs. For this I have set up a database of sailing clubs with inclusive offers to help them find suitable clubs."
Barrier-free or low barriers in watersports are important so that everyone can participate. Can you give examples?
Elke Paatz: "Depending on the type of disability, different things can be a barrier. To give a few examples: For a person in a wheelchair, a staircase on land is a barrier; for a person with impaired vision, it’s an obstacle that is not colour-coded. For someone with a cognitive impairment, a theory paper full of complicated technical terms is a problem. So theoretically, many things can constitute a barrier.
Therefore it’s important to create barrier-free access in the sailing club that corresponds with the actual needs of participants with disabilities. It makes sense to start with a small barrier-free basis on the club premises, to enable people in wheelchairs in particular to use the toilet and transfer from the jetty to a boat. Then other barrier-free elements are usually added over time as required.
Adjustments are also made to boats according to the actual needs of participants - often without having to buy new boats. In many cases, barriers on land and on board can already be removed with a bit of inventiveness and craftsmanship."