Earlier this week UK Athletics presented a best-practice approach to supporting photographers with impairments into major athletics events with fellow IAAF Diamond League meeting organisers as part of National Inclusion Week (24 – 28 September 2018).
Founded and headed up by Inclusive Employers, National Inclusion Week is an annual week of activities and events which serve to highlight the value of inclusion in the workplace, within which UK Athletics’ work as a host of major events was showcased in the form of a short behind the scenes video with a view to passing on its learnings and processes.
A constant work in progress, the ever-evolving focus on providing the best service possible to photographers attending British Athletics major events began as a result of the increase in para athletics events being staged by UKA following the move to bring organisation of major events in-house in 2011.
The most notable and positive development to the increased integration of events was an uplift in the amount of professional photographers with impairments attending to cover the events.
In 2015, British Athletics took the step of consulting with organisations such as the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), British Paralympic Association (BPA) and UK Sport among others to gain valuable input to our work from key sporting delivery bodies, and since then has continued to pave the way for supporting photographers to work within its events.
The policy which was developed is British Athletics’ Guidance for Photographers document (available to download here for reference) which aims to cover all areas and potential scenarios for supporting the work of all attending photographers within the field of play. This includes the pre planning of wheelchair accessible photo positions, to on event day, ensuring that designated staff are in place to assist disabled photographers to go about their work, enabling them the same levels of accessibility to do their job.
The driving force behind 2015’s consultation work which continues to be reflected in British Athletics Photographers’ Guidance, Photo Chief Sally Skea said:
“Back in 2015 there was a realisation that what we provided as a service to photographers was good, but with the increase in disabled photographers attending our events, there were new questions to be addressed in order to provide inclusive access for all in the safest way possible. Through consulting and tackling these issues, we recognised the potential for our service to be enhanced to excellent.”
“We’re now in a position where we have created opportunities for all photographers, irrespective of whether they are disabled or non-disabled to come and attend the event in an inclusive way.”
“We’ve also sought feedback from photographers which has confirmed this is one of the most inclusive environments to work in, not just in terms of access to the building, but that we have a member of staff on hand to deal with their needs. It really is a level playing field.”
A member of British Athletics event-day team for five years, Deputy Photo Chief Ed Tutty added:
“The most pleasing aspect of working across a busy event is seeing everything come together as it should and hearing that each and every photographer has been able to do their job as they intended.”
“Further to that, and beyond helping photographers in the events we have here and now, what is also really important about the service we provide is that the question of ‘what can we do to make this better for you?’ continues to be asked. There is an appreciation that goes both ways and we feel that’s why there is such a welcoming feel and continued return to British Athletics events.”
Major Events Director at British Athletics, Cherry Alexander, praised the work carried out by Sally and her photograph team.
“I am very proud that everyone who contributes to the staging of our major events does so with inclusion right at the centre of their thinking. Sally and her team have worked hard with our disability photographers to produce this guidance, and then successfully carry this out on event days. They have created an industry leading model.
“It is significant to hear the positive feedback from photographers with a disability who attend our events, but also the fact that they continue to provide pointers to further improve what we do and make it the best experience for everyone who attends. This is crucial as we strive to continue enhancing the experience for members of the media, especially those with impairments. We’re dedicated to making sure our delivery for para athletes on the field of play is replicated behind the scenes of our media operation too.”