Episode 4:

Adapt and modify 101

Date released: May 2011. Updated: August 2013; June 2015; September 2017

In this episode we take a look at adapting and modifying a softball activity so that everybody can be included. We use a simple model of adaptation and analyse four video sequences so that you can follow the thinking and make your own notes in a worksheet.

This week we are going to look at some basic principles of adapting and modifying to include people with disability – with the help of some pretty snazzy videos.

To include people with disabilities into sport and physical activity can sometimes involve pretty basic adaptations – a change in the colour of a ball or a rule modification can significantly impact on the participation of individuals without effecting the integrity of the activity for the whole group.

Other times, the necessary modifications are not so simple and require some prior information and/or some planning.

What we have here are 4 videos – each video depicts a softball type activity with a group of young people. The female instructor is taking the group for a short practice session.

What you can do here is use the worksheet provided to download here and work through the modifications in the two scenarios outlined here.

We’ll be using something called the TREE principle – this is used in Australia as a framework for adapting and modifying. In the UK they use something called STEP. Either way – these are simple models to help people structure their adaptations and modifications – the outcomes are the same.

TREE stands for:

  • Teaching style
  • Rules and regulations
  • Equipment
  • Environment

You simply use this model to think about some of the changes you might want to make after seeing these videos.

So let’s look at the first video. This highlights some pretty ordinary ‘exclusive’ practice. Download the Worksheet (it’s in Word doc format so you can use) and take notes of what you would modify to make this activity more inclusive of people with disability.

Pretty scary wasn’t it! If you took some notes in the Worksheet now take a look at video 2. Here, we replay the scene once more – this time highlighting some of the exclusive practices demonstrated.

This video highlighted some pretty poor teaching practice. Practice that excluded people with disability in the group. Some were obvious, some not so obvious.

Setting up a scene like this is actually a good exercise to do with a group – for the very reason that you can highlight and bring to the attention of students and participants the sort of everyday practices that can be quite exclusive for people with disability.

Moving on now to something a bit more positive. In this next video you’ll see much better teaching practice where a number of things have been done deliberately to make this activity more inclusive of people with disability.

Again, use your Worksheet to write down what are the positives here.

Finally, we run through this scene once more – again, highlighting some of the very good inclusive practices demonstrated in this activity – some obvious and some not so obvious. How many of these did you spot?

Now you have gone through the videos you should have a good idea of how the TREE principle can help you to adapt and modify various aspects of the activity so that individuals are better included into it. The TREE model can be used across all sports and in pretty much all situations. Think of it as a mind-map for adapting and modifying. 

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About the author: Peter Downs

About the author: Peter Downs

Founding Director - The Inclusion Club

Peter is Founding Director of The Inclusion Club and Manager of Play by the Rules – a national initiative to promote safe, fair and inclusive sport. Peter has worked for over 25 years in the field of inclusive sport, disability sport and physical activity including 17 years managing the Australian Sports Commission’s Disability Sport Unit.  In 2013 Peter was fortunate enough to receive a Churchill Fellowship to study models of best practice in inclusive sport and physical activity.