The Tea on Project Echo
Podcast hosted by: Ashton Forrest and Jalesa Martin
In this week's episode of Accessibli-tea, Ashton and Jalesa sit down with Adam Denise from Project Echo. Project Echo is a research initiative focused on studying disability in sport. The project that brought Project Echo together focused on two large-scale events: the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games and the 2015 Toronto PanAm/Parapan American Games. The project involved an examination of leveraging strategies around parasport opportunities and accessibility developed for each game.
Project Echo has also launched a new campaign called #Capturethebarrier that allows for people to capture things they come across in their daily lives that act as a barrier to accessibility. Campaigns like this highlight how we, as a collective society (and Western community) can work towards making things more accessible for everyone.
Check out the episode to hear more about the research Adam and Denise are doing, how COVID has affected the world of accessible sport, how Western can become more accessible, and more!
Take a listen...
Hi, I'm Jalesa.
Hi, I'm Ashton, and welcome to our second episode of Accessibili-tea. We're here with Adam and Denise to share some tea on Project Echo and their campaign capture the barrier.
So grab your cup, sit back and get ready to sip on some hot tea.
Welcome, Adam and Denise, can you please introduce yourselves?
Yeah, I'll just go quickly. Um,
I am Denise Kamyuka. I am a second-year PhD student in the Department of Kinesiology and I am working with Adam and Team Meisner, on the Project Echo research project. Yeah, and I work as a research assistant on that.
Well, that's that is a great, an awesome project for us, isn't it Denise? Since I'll give a little introduction to myself. My name is Adam Purdy. I've been working with the University of Western Ontario since 2018, a graduate program in sport leadership and management. And one of the, I guess my background in sport is I was a three-time Paralympic athlete. I competed in a number of set of games, most notably was my double gold medals from the Sydney 2000 games. As a swimmer in the pool, you really, my experiences of disability and society have really evolved along the way. But this particular program that I'm in at Western really focuses on recognizing disability in society, right, recognizing disability, and parasport. And I've just really had such a blast working with Dr. Laura Meisner and her research team, specifically on this Project Echo initiative.
That's amazing. And I'm also very interested to understand more about what exactly is Project Echo? And can you even tell me why it was called Project Echo?
Yeah, well, like I guess in the in the early days, when we started looking at this project, this project really evolved out of while it was the ongoing initiative, or dissemination initiative to try to wrap up a larger project, which is called the major sport and events, major, major sport events and parasport participation, investigating post event opportunities, and experiences. So that project Dr. Laura Meisner was really focused on going back to 2014, and 2015. In each, each of those specific years, we're focusing on the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, and the 2015 parapan Am Games in Toronto. And the Project Echo is really about an initiative to try to capture the voices of those who were impacted by the games and those people, those being people who live in the cities affected by the games. So Project Echo really is about, you know, reverberating the voices and capturing the voices, keeping the discussions going about the impacts that occur at games and in the legacy of the games afterwards in post games era. So that's really where Project Echo gets its name it's just kind of about the continuation or the reverberation of information over time.
Yeah, and I'm just to add to that, so COVID has presented, for everybody, a very unique situation where, you know, even when Adam was doing his interviews that having somebody not mentioned, not mention COVID, and that was very, very rare, literally, you know, the first thing out of people's mouths, they wanted to talk about it. And so we started realizing that we need to shift a little away from just looking at the games, and looking at that legacy piece from the games, and instead trying to look at accessibility to physical education and physical activity, and sports on a holistic level on a more broader level. And as researchers, we would then dig out and make those deductions in terms of how that is related to legacy initiatives from the games. And so yeah, so things have kind of boarded up a little bit. And hence we are at this place where we can even start putting together campaigns like Capture the Barrier. Yeah.
Those are some really great points that you mentioned. So I know you mentioned that now you've realized that you need to take more of a holistic approach to interviews. So I was wondering if there are any significant differences that you found in your interviews pre versus during the pandemic?
Oh, boy, yeah, well, but so just so you know, I started my, my research, I was going to be doing data collection, like in March of 2020. So I had everything all planned. But people were, I think, blindsided by what had happened, and from a social situation. So we're gonna think about, we're focusing, at least in Laura's research initiative on major, major parasport games, it's focusing on major events, and major, all these major events that happened in 2020, were pretty much wiped out. And they were canceled or postponed. And a lot of people were in sport in general, was really faced with quite a large existential crisis. So people weren't really thinking about, weren't really thinking about, well, there's got to be an event, the event still has to happen. There's a global pandemic happening. And a lot of people that's like, as Denise says, that's all they were focusing on. And so the pre, we don't really have like a measure of data before. But that was something that was like, some thought that just never really occurred to people before was the impact of something like that to this magnitude. But when it's always there, when it's the only thing that people are discussing because you're talking to people you're trying to set up interviews, you know one of the things is how are you doing during these strange times, or, you know, the usual email intro now, which is that you want to know how people are doing during this. And I think they're definitely were open to talk about COVID, especially in my interviews from my research, and they're impacted about, you know, the ways that their facility might have been closed or accessibility-related issues. Now, people are not actually being able to have access to the things they did before. So the interviews are really sculpted around the social situations occurring in the impacts from COVID. So it just became so much of of this cloud that was over overarching over almost every discussion. I know, Denise, if you had any other, we haven't really done many interviews in that respect, and those particular ones.
Yeah, so I'm actually first set of interviews, we, uh, we had a focus group, he had his first set of focus groups, were actually during the pandemic. And so that obviously, just brought up a lot of things that we hadn't fully anticipated in going into this research, but really highlighting what, you know, what we all kind of know, is COVID has disproportionately affected people with disabilities, you know, even in accessing physical activity. And so in the in that focus group, a lot came up about, you know, mental health and just that, the, the feeling of loneliness during COVID. But and even how that is de-motivating towards wanting to get up and leave and get physically active and seeing that there's a need for support in that sense. But then also, one major thing that came up was this feeling of unsafety. And primarily, that feeling came from the fact that even before the pandemic, the built environment is not a place where many people with disabilities felt safe, and it felt they didn't feel safe to go out and access. Yeah, to access, just opportunities to get, you know, to exercise and to, you know, just get physically active. And so those were things that were highlighted, especially in in a situation where they'll say spaces with that they used to have the gyms, community centers that created places or like even socializing for them, all those were taken away. And what they're left with is spaces that initially they didn't feel safe and initially were not built to accommodate for their needs.
Yeah. I can relate to you know, I feel like COVID has exacerbated lot of the issues that were pre-pandemic and really put a light on them because as a person with a disability who tries to be physically active, or go to places that encourage that kind of mobility. Many of the things I think about is how do I enter a building with a mobility scooter? Or because I'm immune-compromised I'm thinking about, is it clean? Are the people coming in sick? And how far away should I be? So some of the things that COVID brought up about social distancing, I like to be close to people. But I do need that distance if you're sick. I think it's beneficial. And I also like how you guys said that there's been like a focus on the mental health aspect now, because people are really feeling that in the COVID era of being lonely, not being able to interact as much, or the traditional ways in which they would interact with other people are not available to them anymore. So I find that fascinating, and I hope that as you guys continue your research, maybe there will be, and the pandemics over, there will be an opportunity to continue adding those other aspects of questions to ensure like the mental health aspects included, when people are doing research on things that are built environment related or even socially related, cuz sometimes we forget about mental health or well being things, other sides or other supports that are making it very difficult to participate. I'm curious, what else did, what else have you guys discovered so far? In your research is mostly about mental health in COVID, or there's more physical barriers that you've noticed that people often don't think about?
Oh yeah, you know, I think COVID has, you know, again, we're talking a little bit about COVID. Because it's, it's really been the game changer. But as I was doing my research, really focusing on the post games, recognizing disability in the post games environment, I had a lot of great discussions with stakeholders in sport from across Ontario. And these stakeholders in sport and parasport, specifically, had a lot of great things to say, but one in particular spoke about this idea around accessibility for all and how COVID kind of was an equalizer in this case, and the things that we typically would take for granted as being, you know, things like, you know, the button to open up your door to go inside. Well, that's not what and I hate that word handicap button is not only for handy, handicapped people, I just kind of cringe when I hear that, because I see people with strollers using it. I see older people using it, I see people just carrying too many bags using it. It's not like that. And it also has become really a tool to force safe, safe use of doors and touch points of things. So I think accessibility in my research, at least was something that was accessibility is both individual and communal, right? It's something that needs to be when we think about all of the individual accessible needs and seems to be infinite mine aren't the same as what yours are. My needs in terms of accessing things. But we have some common things that could be beneficial for everybody. And I think when you look at something like a COVID event, where we're forced to do things slightly differently, it really boils down to what are the basic fundamental needs of everybody, and everybody needs to access a door, everyone needs to be able to have ease rule and access, if you could, that would be ideal, to various levels of ability. And some of those things are related to a pandemic. And other things are just common sensical in some some ways. So it my research came up there, so a lot of good discussion around that piece within a hosting context. So things like what does it mean to welcome a delegation from Canada who are bringing all these participants who have a range of accessibility needs, from intellectual impairment to physical impairment, we need to blanket everything. And that led it everything to you know, roll in shower, access to toilet paper positioning, which is a really solid point when you think about leveling the field is where did these things need to be? And how accessible are they truly, and that is like a really good point of recognizing, how do we arrive at that right? Like when I say to you, Ashton, like my needs aren't the same as yours. In that case, what are your needs and how do we recognize those in a way that isn't, you know, forcing you to divulge every little personal thing that you know about yourself, but allows it to become open and available so we can accommodate to it. I think that's part of what COVID has maybe done for people, because there's been some things that have opened up and other things where people have said, that makes sense to do it that way.
You mentioned so many great points, I really appreciate just the emphasis on how accessibility isn't only individual, but it's communal. And just the mutual benefits that we have to different accessible supports, even just thinking about the way that things are built, and just the concept of universal design and being able to address multiple needs in the creation of a space. So I just wanted to take a step back. And I know, Denise, you mentioned the Capture the Barrier. So I was wondering if you could tell us a little bit more about what that is, and how that relates to Project Echo as a whole.
Great, thank you. Yeah, so Project Echo, just to clarify, is lives really on a website. And this website has been designed to capture the voices of people with disabilities and their allies, and capture their experiences with physical activity and sports. And so there are a bunch of forums in there plenty of discussion topics in there. But in order to raise awareness about our site, and also just create content around what we're doing, we have developed a social media component as well. And so that's where Capture the Barrier is now housed. But ultimately Capture the Barrier is, is an awareness campaign. I mean, it's a conversation that needs to happen. It's absolutely the right time for those conversations to happen. But our ultimate goal with capital the barrier, because we are a research project, instead of people take that conversation, to the website. And so to be transparent, as researchers, that is what we're trying to get. But Capture the Barrier did come about, especially in the middle of the winter, that's when we started thinking about it, where, you know, you walk around, and you see piles of snow covering the ramp. And you're like, even for me, I can't get over this pile. So how is somebody with a wheelchair supposed to do you know, and I'm realizing that man, this is a conversation, or this is something that has been going on for so long, but we're still facing the same issues. And they're, they're also probably a lot more barriers that we can see. Just also just depending on what your disability is, depending on you know, how you access things. And so that's how the idea of creating Capture the Barrier campaign came up. And so yeah, essentially Capture the Barrier is a social media campaign that is meant to capture people, it doesn't have to just be people with disabilities, but people's experiences with barriers to access into physical activity. So be that physical, be that mental, be that invisible, be it, you know, very obvious. Yeah, those are the things that we're trying to capture with this campaign. And as much as we say, Capture the Barrier, sending your photos, we're also open to, hey, maybe put together a little comment or a little blurb about something that that you can't necessarily capture with a picture. But it's still a valid barrier. Yeah.
Adam, did you have something to add to that?
No, just that that was that was a great description of the Capture the Barrier, and you know, like, like I said earlier, it's those little things and Denise highlighted as well, it's, it's the subtle things, I think that maybe are the biggest barriers to participation for some people, right. And another thing that kind of came up from my research was simple things that like, that we maybe would take for granted like sending out a PDF that isn't readable, or, you know, for visual, visually impaired readers, there's some things that just weren't working. And you can't really capture that barrier other than the fact that that PDF or that document that you needed to read, just can't be readable by your specific software. So that was something that was was really a I guess a bit of an eye opener. For some of these host organizations was okay, now in order for, you know, we're going to be sending information out that needs to be, at least in Canada, we have to have bilingual documents, if you're working in these, these government related, why do we not have an aspect in there that says it must be accessible in that way. So we're just thinking about things like that, that are subtle barriers, all the way to the big barriers, which are like, just straight up, you can't get get over it all the way down to the small things that you think are on a day to day basis that if that little thing was not there, it made things so much easier. And I can participate more.
I think something that's interesting that has come up in this process as well is the impact of language and how language itself can act as a barrier. If, if our language in any way alienates somebody, then already that's a barrier that, you know, they put up and so yeah, it's been interesting to, to just, in working with our partners, to hear their experiences with trying to promote physical activity, and just how language has is just plays a huge role in bringing down those barriers.
One example of that, Denise, just to kind of go on that is the you know, we we're working with our Canadian team here, Team Misener. And then we also have a team over in the UK where we're so fortunate to work with Dr. Gail MacPherson and Dr. David McGillivray of the University of West of Scotland. And those two are just so farsighted in their, they can see everything, that we're, the vision of what we're working on here. And they're doing the same thing over in their particular environment. But we're using different terminologies. So here, we're focusing on the person first, you know, sort of focusing on the individual first, some will focus on you know, looking at the sport side, Paralympic sport tends to now use the words "person with impairment" as opposed to a "disabled person" or "person with a disability". And over in the UK, they're focusing more on the disability first, in that case, so there's a lot of ranges in which we need to consider how do we work with our partners to make sure that we're A. using the proper terminology and B. respectful of the way that they'd like to see this, this initiative in this campaign go forward. Now, of course, we're always going to have we're going to have some controversy in some way. And that in some ways, that's good for us, because it does drive some of the discussion to say, well, it should be this way, or it should not be that way. And I think that's what we kinda are trying to poke a little bit with this campaign is to, you know, what, what irks you about that? What makes you - what's your feeling about that? Why does it make you feel that way? Why do we need to focus on the person first? Or why do we need to focus on the disability? First, what, you know, is it a disability? Or is it an impairment? And I think all of those are so relevant and great first learning discussions, especially in a research forum, like Project Echo.
I'm glad you guys said a lot about language. And I know there's a huge debate about person first language versus disability first. And it's a complex debate. There's a lot of people in the disability community who prefer to say, disabled, I'm disabled. And then there's others who really prefer the person first language, because they say iy focuses more on the identity of a whole or some people see their disability as part of their identity and separating that factors is missing who they - they are. So I'm glad you guys talked about language and another aspect of language which I'm interesting, interested to see if you guys have explored are people who are deaf or have communication disabilities. So has there been communication with people who use ASL or different types of ways to communicate, to see how that also impacts sports arenas and participating in sports?
In from my research, that was something that did come up in the host organization from the 2015 pair Pan Am Games put a lot of effort into the ASL pieces that you would that you would use if you want them to say you're sitting at the venue and you're watching the sport. They put a lot of effort into that descriptive video or descriptive. I think it's I think that's what it is. We're using this descriptive narration. So the announcers were using this and it was coming through, you can use the headpiece and it would, it would tell the individuals what was going on. But there was that that has come up from the from our specific research initiative. Deaf sport and Deaf Olympics hasn't really been a major focus of our research, we've we've been focusing mostly on the physical impairment even kind of not moved away, but we've tried to incorporate as many of the impairment types as we can. But we really have to stay try to focus on one particular group, if we're going to try to do this. And I know it's there's so many different accessibility needs for a range of groups, we're talking about intellectual impairment, visual impairments, physical, auditory, you know, all of these different types of impairment will also require so many different accessibility needs. And I think that's something that for us to just try to stay focused on one particular subset, I guess, if you will, of this grouping is that that's where we're able to really put the majority of our effort.
Thanks, Adam. So we wanted to shift the conversation a bit towards Western. And we're wondering, what are some barriers that you've noticed, or students with disabilities have noticed, in terms of Western sports facilities, and stadium?
Well, from from my end, my experience has always been pretty positive accessing the facilities at at Western, I find it to be quite a an accessible campus. But of course, with my impairment type, it's mostly upper body. You know, there's a lot of stairs, there's a lot of older buildings that have been converted to to be more accessible for people who use mobility aids, such as chairs or scooters. But I don't think it's always it's always there, right. It's like one of the things you have to access one door only to be able to get out or you have to access. And those kinds of things are the subtle things that I think is what irks most people who have an impairment, who say, well, that person can go through three different doors to get to their place that they want to get to, but I'm stuck with only going through one access point. And that door is damn heavy, or the button stinks or you know, something that is just that one particular user experience. And I think the more that we have these types of conversations, the more that we will hash them out. And we'll try to identify all the subtle things, that what I say subtle, but the subtle things that we could just make small improvements on to make a greater and greater change for everybody who uses the facilities and the buildings at Western. But from a sports perspective, we're looking at like the the recreation place, I think it's it's accessible, we've hosted swim meets, at the moment, well when we were able to at least we hosted swim meets. And that to me is usually a good indication of how accessible the building is. Because usually in swimming, there's a wide range of athletes with impairment, who are coming from abroad. And if it's easy for them to get on a pool deck, and it's safe for them to get on the pool deck, that tends to be a good indicator that it's it's a good facility, you know, they can go and sit in the stands pretty easily. There are some places where you know, you're, you're looking at spots that are only only available maybe for wheelchair users. That's kind of, again, a downfall. And Darda might talk a little bit further about, well, maybe she's kind of sick of always having the same spot in a in a classroom setting because it's the only wheelchair accessible spot. And I think things like that are what, you know, the accessibility committees can consider is, again, how do we recognize what those needs are. And those needs are always going to vary there, it's going to be a moving target for a lot of people because whether it's an auditory impairment or visual impairment, they're all going to have different needs. And some of those things are a little bit more easier to accommodate than putting in a ramp where there's stairs, major infrastructure changes, as opposed to maybe a piece of technology that changes it for someone. And all of that is I think Western is doing a good job at it. And with the new building designs that they're bringing in for Thames Hall, I think there's you know, they're thinking ahead and those kinds of things are what, when we get to the fine tune details, that's where we'll start to figure out how can we make it more accessible?
Yeah, I have had some conversations with people in when we when we started rolling out this Capture the Barrier campaign. And I mean, I'm not going to mention names because I haven't gotten their permission. But yeah, um, I did come across a student that mentioned that for them accessing - and it's funny how the common theme and what I'm gonna say is actually accessing the bathroom - is that they wouldn't, they won't know when they go to the Rec Center what is a, which is a female, and which is the male bathroom because there's no Braille on the on the side, you know. And I was like, yeah, I didn't even think of that. But that is also just like, yeah, that is, that is a very embarrassing situation that you could find yourself in, right. But also with the, with the focus groups that we did. And also with a response that we we actually received from one of the Capture the Barrier entrances, was the idea that now that a lot of things are closed, and a lot of buildings are closed, access, and physical activity means doing it outside. And that means I don't know where the next bathroom is. I don't know if I'm, and if I have, if my, my disability has, if I have a co mobility, co mobility that requires that I have access to a toilet, whenever like the urge comes across. Um, I'm not going to be able to go out and access to these facilities because I don't feel safe. And yeah, that's definitely actually has been coming up quite a bit.
Yeah, I think with this campaign, it would be interesting to see what students say about these rec centers on campus, and also like, the TD Stadium, and how their experiences accessing it, because I know from my own personal experience, and also speaking with other students, they'll talk about, well, there's no tactile planning for wayfinding. Or it's very difficult to do wayfinding, or people with environmental sensitivities. Maybe the smell of chlorine is something too strong for them to attend, like, a track meet. I mean, a pool comp, swimming competition, sorry, my words are jumbled here. Or, I know for myself, when I think about the football games, I can dress as warm as I possibly can. But there's no way you're going to catch me outside, when it's cold to watch a game. So ways to figure that out, would be great. And I'm excited to see what students have to say. I do agree that there needs to be more conversations, especially with accessibility committees, or people with disabilities to really get their unique experiences. Because often times, when I bring up things about barriers, it's like, if they say, well, that's only you, Ashton. Like, have you spoken to other people, but they've experienced the same thing. And even if it's only me, how can we make things work for me or people like me? So yeah, I'm interested to see what comes out of the project. I love that you mentioned also push buttons. I'm more of a automated sliding door girl, that for me, I find them accessible to most people with the push buttons, because of my arthritis and mighty cherating muscles. I'm trying to push a button in the middle of winter, I end up getting a lot of damage or end up hurting my wrist. And that's the end. If the doors too heavy I tried to navigate it I end up damaging my shoulder or potentially breaking my mobility device, which is a scooter because it slams on it. So, um, yes, I'm interested to see where that all goes.
Yeah, but also we're in a pandemic. Um, I don't want to be touching buttons. I can the door open when I get there. Yeah.
That's that's all, and it was so poignantly presented to me when I was talking with these participants just about the - the how unique impairments reflect in accessibility. Right. So one one really funny example was at the, at the Paralympic or the Pan Am Games Village, we're talking about access to the cafeteria. And within the cafeteria, it was like there was you know, you think about a cafeteria for just able bodied people who can stand and access things that are up you know, up high or, or down low, but lifting a tray up above or down to your lap, filled with, you know, food in hot soup or something like that one of the really funny points was around this pot of oatmeal, which was just sitting around on thing and the oatmeal is up super high. And you can tell that a lot of people wanted to have access to this oatmeal, because it's so good, but that it was spilled all over the area in front of the oatmeal. So you know, just by looking at that, that people were having trouble accessing this, this food items, but to think that that is is so would be so easily overlooked, because it's like, okay, we'll just put it on this table, which is you know, 36 inches high off the ground, and it's that's the standard height for you know, your countertop, well, maybe things need to be dropped down and lowered for more easily easy access, so that you don't actually have to use those upper body aspects, if you don't have them like myself, or you don't have the hand strength or the biceps or whatever you need to lift, those things just won't be looked at because it's it's just there. And it's part of the the pieces, that that's just the normal way that we do it. And just as we're talking about in some of our research forums, our research team, that whole concept of, that's the way we used to do it, it's always been done that way might not be the model moving forward during a, you know, a post COVID environment for things, maybe it's going to make people think more realistically about the impacts of accessibility or the impacts of decisions that maybe are old, we don't we maybe can start moving towards new concepts around how things ought to be done. And I think, you know, door openers or, or positioning of certain things doesn't necessarily have to be that way, because it was done that way in the past.
So you guys hinted at a lot of things that could be done better in general, from your research, I'm interested to know if you have any recommendations for Western or the people that design Western's spaces that might be helpful for them to consider, especially in the many new buildings, and then many new designs that are coming forward at the university.
Hmm, well, in my honest opinion, I haven't been on campus in a while. So I can say that when I was at AHB, accessing the buildings there and even go into the library, or into the Student Center, the access was always there, it's and again, it always typically, for me boils down to, you know, carrying things or opening things. And I always think that those types of decisions to put in big, heavy glass doors or might aesthetically look good, but it's maybe not the most practical when you're thinking about getting people in and out of doors. And those kind of decisions are okay, I get the aesthetic features. And it might not be practical to put in automated doors or something like what you would see in a, you know, mall setting where the doors automatically open. But that I think is related to maybe a design and a policy decision. And once those decisions kind of get really assessed when people start really realizing Okay, it makes more sense to keep it keep some of those basic things that we do even just doorways once that decision gets made to say, okay, all doorways as we know need to be 36 inches and so a chair could get through, but that they don't need to, you know, be that heavy aspect of a heavy qualified door. I think that's one thing. You know, other things like just getting around campus, I think Western is doing a good job of removing barriers, whether what they're doing in the next phase of that is, you know, new builds should should be in that case, new updated universal designs in you know, something for example, like Thames Hall. This rebuild is going to be really exciting once everything is all done and said we can actually get a tour of the building and see what you know what the last year has has come with it. So but parking, accessibility parking on campus. That could be something else that maybe could be explored a little bit further. As you know, it's it's costly to pay for parking on campus, especially if you're a person with a disability who has an accessibility parking pass. And maybe there could be some additional parking spots that could be implemented, there's a lot of space Western, maybe that can be something that can be explored as well.
Uhm I think something that did some up from the focus group we had, the idea that during COVID eccascerbated disability and the isolation of people with disabilities. When the pandemic started there are cones with the mask and for people with disabilities who rely on reading peoples lips or need their lips to be read. But there's also this idea of now there just needs to be, with social distancing, that space, for a person in a wheelchair or someone in a scooter needs bit of extra space now. There's an attitude change that needs to happen amongst students and society where that shouldn't be single out or made a bigger deal than it is. Just to be mindful of these situations. One student had said that they see in people's eyes when they need to get into the lift and everyone else can't get in now, and now they will just wait until the lift is empt because they don't want to get those looks and make people wait. So COVID highlighted those feelings of being othered. Just really, honestly, this is what Project Echo is about this is what Capture the Barrier is about; it's actually about getting these experiences, these opinions and suggestions put through. We can't speak right now to what needs to be done and what should happen, but with participation in this campaign we will start gathering these thoughts.
I love that. I love the focus on getting the voice because again we often makes assumptions with what people need without having those conversations, so I'm glad Project Echo and Capture the Barrier are doing that. I just have a few final questions, one being do you have a message you want to share with students, Western, the community?
Well I, from my end, is I think, and this is why I love sport, is that sport acts as a nurturing ground for change and I think through sport we can see people's attitudes and opinions and we can capture peoples perspectives on people who are living with impairment because it's almost forced. If you want to participate and you have an impairment you will be put into a different classification and grouping within this and we respect that. And I think Sport research at Western is doing such a good job of trying to push that agenda forward and I think the more allies we have even doing the smallest amount of research focused on some aspect of impairment, recognition of all of these aspects that we see in accessibility around campus, it is so crucially important to keep pushing this boundary and allowing for inclusive opportunities for anybody who is living with impairment in some capacity. And that's why I love being involved in sport and this research group because there are so many things we are identifying and someone has to take ownership to try and improve these situations for these people. As a person with an impairment, I feel like it's a bit on my shoulders to bring awareness and attention to these campaigns that we have started and that we carry them forth. Sometimes we may have to pass the torch and bring in more people but it's big innovative to try and capture the voice of people. Sometimes people don't want to have their voices capture or they don't know the benefits of participating in something like this, that they can actually have a big impact just by making one or two comments and I think that's something that if we are looking at the Western community and the research community, to get involved! There's a lot of really exciting things you can get involved in and try to identify more people with impairments in sport, let's increase participation. Once we return to this, return to play environment as things open up is that I want to see tons more people, and more kids involved at the grass roots level, because that's an indication to me of a good community.
I mean, I don't have much to add to that. Uhm, except, the echo project.org, that is the website. Visit it, register, join the conversation. Bring your experience, your opinions, let's have a conversation. There will be people that are decision makers in the disability community and with policy so these are opportunities to have conversations with these people and have what you have to say be heard. Cause ultimately that's what we want research to do, we want it t help provide evidence-based decision-making. As Adam said, I also like kind of like, cringe almost at the idea of capturing voices, it sounds a bit like an alien invasion hahah, but it is so important that decision don't go on being made based on what an organization thinks that everybody needs. As we go into a post COVID era, if physical activity and access to physical activity needs to be changed, let those changes be done now. When we are trying to figure out how to return to sport, let those changes be made with your feedback in mind and you experiences in mind. So yeah, that's what I want to say, that echo project.org, let me say it again, echo project.org. Come converse with us, yeah, let's collect some data there.
I love the emphasis on the website there and just out of curiosity, are there ways for people to participate via social media? Twitter, Instagram, Facebook?
Yeah so our social media handles on Facebook and Twitter are ProjectEcho2020, and on those platforms you will find ways to get involved in Capture the Barrier and how to move what you capture to the website. For Instagram our handle is proj.echo. And then, we do have once a month we have chat nights, so on our websites we will all be convincing at the same time, and you can find out about that on our social media. I think the next one is the 26th, where we come together with the community or organizations, we come together and have discussion via text, there's no video, all text, about capture the barrier.
So do you have any other final words before we end?
Just you know, thanks for having us. We've been putting a lot of effort into Project Echo and the research for parasport participation and I think to have this voice and to have a solid conversation with you and sip on some tea and get this podcast out there and you know it's a relaxed opportunity to boost what we're doing. So thanks.
Yeah thank you so much for having us. Thank you also for helping us push this agenda. We really appreciate it.
Thank you both for being here. We always love some hot tea, and we are happy to spread as much of this out there, because anything we can do to get this out to the public and educate people on accessibility so it's more commonplace versus something that seems taboo. It needs to just be normalized. Thank you guys again!
Thank you for listening to this week's episodes. All of the information and details an be found in the show notes.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai