III. Set up an inclusive adaptive surfing program


Following an in-depth review of the literature on adapted surfing (peer-reviewed journal articles) and an in-depth evaluation and analysis of the best practices and implementation of adapted surfing programmes by 11 surf therapy organisations across Europe and Internationally an evidence-based framework or ‘‘toolkit’ for adapted surf educators was developed. (See Figure 1).

Surf therapy organisations that participated in the evaluation :

  • Handi Surf (France)
  • Federacion Cantabra de Surf (Spain)
  • Liquid Therapy (Ireland)
  • Surf Clube de Viana (Portugal)
  • Open Ocean e.V (Germany)
  • SUP 4 ALL (Italy)
  • Roxy Davis Foundation (South Africa)
  • N’JoY surf activities (France)
  • SURFaddict (Portugal)
  • Ericeira Surf Clube (Portugal)
  • Adaptive Hawaii (Hawaii)

Rather than providing pre-determined teaching methods, the toolkit seeks to offer evidence-based guidance that can be tailored to best suit the very diverse contexts in which many adaptive surfing programmes are delivered for therapeutic, recreational and/or sporting purposes. It aims to help remove existing barriers to the implementation of adapted surfing for people with physical and/or sensory disabilities. The guidance provided in the toolkit is not intended to be exhaustive, nor to be a methodology. Where possible, specific and professional adapted surf training in your country is recommended. It is hoped that the guidance and supporting material offered in the toolkit provide the groundwork for the on-going sharing, co-development and evolution of adaptive surfing in our communities, improving access to surfing and aquatic sports for everyone.

Figure 1. INCLUSEA ‘toolkit’

Figure 1 provides an overview of the key elements or ‘tools’ within the INCLUSEA adapted surfing toolkit including :

  • Self-assessment checklists: ‘Know your team’, and ‘Know your environment.’
  • Pre-arrival guidance and survey: ‘Know your participant’
  • Disability factsheets
  • General communication factsheet
  • Transfers and mobility factsheet
  • General dry-land tips
  • Coaching techniques factsheets
  • Adaptive surfing factsheets
  • Impact and evaluation factsheet


How to use the toolkit

The toolkit is designed to be a learning journey. This begins with beginning with the pre-planning stages of an adapted surfing session or programme and how best to understand your environment, team and participants (includes the checklists and pre-arrival survey).

This is followed by tools to help make an adaptive surfing session as inclusive and enjoyable as possible with guidance provided in the factsheets on communication, how to welcome participants, what to consider when moving from the beach to sea and before entering the water, what to consider when providing surf instruction to maximise safety while promoting autonomy and enjoyment.

Finally, an additional guidance document provides guidance on how to evaluate the impact of your programme including key principles for developing a survey, and examples of different types of evaluation methods and measures (qualitative and quantitative) used in ‘blue health’ studies and how and in what context they are best applied.

The toolkit can be considered in its entirety or depending on the needs of your programme, specific information can be accessed, for example, factsheets providing information on different types of disabilities.

In-focus: The checklists

The checklists are designed to assist in carrying out a self-assessment of the accessibility features of your surfing site as well as key factors for creating an inclusive and enabling adapted surfing environment. The development of these checklists was a co-creative, multi-stage process that included first, i) an extensive review of the literature (peer reviewed journal articles and policy documents, etc.), followed by ii) an in-depth evaluation of the implementation of adapted surf programmes with eleven different surf therapy organisations from eight countries.

In-focus: Adaptive surfing, communication and transfers factsheets

The factsheets were informed by the evaluation of the adapted surf programmes, identifying both common and unique or novel best practices and strategies for overcoming barriers and improving teaching methodologies. The aim of the factsheets is to help contribute to the creation of a more inclusive ocean and surfing community.

1. How to best prepare for an adaptive surfing program?

Do the self-assesment checklists to know your environment, your team, your surfer. Learn about the diffefferent disabilities...

2. How to make an adaptive surfing session as inclusive and enjoyable as possible?

Learn about communication, dry-land tips transfers, teaching techniques, and the diferent Adaptive Surfing Factsheets...

3. How to evaluate an adaptive surfing session?

In order to set up an efficient evaluation process and to capture the impact of your programme (e.g. physical, social or psychological impacts), you will need to consider some questions...