Manager for Disabled Chess

Debate directly related to English Chess Federation matters.
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IM Jack Rudd
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Manager for Disabled Chess

Post by IM Jack Rudd » Mon Nov 04, 2013 11:49 pm

You know how Alex Holowczak mentioned a few weeks ago that I'd probably be returning to the ECF in a new capacity? Well, this is it. It's a new post, and I welcome people's input into how I go about it.

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Manager for Disabled Chess

Post by Roger de Coverly » Tue Nov 05, 2013 12:24 am

IM Jack Rudd wrote: It's a new post, and I welcome people's input into how I go about it.
There might be material in the archives.

Ten years ago, a report on the Council meeting commented.

http://www.thamesvalleychess.org/reports/main.htm

Disabled Chess

The Director of Home Chess wanted to create a group whose function would be to assist and encourage all who suffer from non-sensory impairment to learn and play chess. There is currently the Braille Chess Association for blind players, and the English Deaf Association for deaf players, but there is no organisation for disabled players who are not blind or deaf.

Chris Rice
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Re: Manager for Disabled Chess

Post by Chris Rice » Tue Nov 05, 2013 6:30 am

Congratulations Jack and hope it all goes well. Interestingly the 1st World Championship for the Disabled has just happened in Germany as you may be already aware. They needed about 30 volunteers to make the tournament a success and the round by round reports might be useful? http://www.worldchess-disabled.com/en/

David Robertson
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Re: Manager for Disabled Chess

Post by David Robertson » Tue Nov 05, 2013 2:57 pm

IM Jack Rudd wrote:It's a new post, and I welcome people's input into how I go about it.
Good. But, dear me, where to start?

1) Scrap the term 'disabled chess'. Whatever it is, I don't want to play it. The key concept to promote is Access to Chess for those with disability. Hence, your title might be: Manager for/of Chess with Disability.

2) Force the ECF to adopt as policy all relevant provisions of the Equality Act (2010)

3) Require all congresses, tournaments etc (incl. 4NCL, e2e4) explicitly to meet the terms of the Equality Act - with grading services withheld if they fail to comply.

4) Require all leagues, counties and related competitions formally to adopt, by 2014-15, policies compliant with the Equality Act - backed by sanctions, as in (3)

5) Require all clubs to behave lawfully in terms of the Equality Act, above all in terms of accessibility. Publish and promote a 'gold list' of those that do; publish a 'black list' of those that won't.

6) Prepare to find yourself buried chin-deep in weak-willed, small-minded, self-referenced excuses for inaction. Or worse, simply ignored.

Ernie Lazenby
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Re: Manager for Disabled Chess

Post by Ernie Lazenby » Tue Nov 05, 2013 5:10 pm

I am not sure why this position is required.

For almost 50 years I have been playing chess quite often against players with physical disabilities, some quite severe. Why does having a physical disability warrant a special category of chess.(With its own manager) I can envisage a significant number of disabled people being offended at being put into a special category. Visual impairment yes.
Chess is unlike athletics and other physical sports that do require special arrangements/conditions. Chess is a mind game and thus physical disaability would seem to have no affect on an individuals playing ability. I accept there maybe some people who are so disabled they are unable to move the pieces however that could be easily be sorted by having an assistant. Why is a 'manager of disabled chess' needed to sort that out.

This is all a bit like the labour parties all women selection lists for MP's.

Where does it end; lets have a manager of chess for those with a mental illness or one for gay players.

I have been on very good terms with several disabled players, one in particular who is a regular on the circuit, I doubt he wants special treatment by the ECF simply because he has a condition which has not in any way prevented him from playing and winning events.

Maybe I am missing the point if so please enlighten me. To me its just another layer of beaurocracy.

BTW My comments have nothing to do with Jacks ability to do the job. I have been quite vocal in support of him in recent years and I know he will do a good job.
I agree with David, the provisions of the act are often ignored and thats wrong.

Andrew Zigmond
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Re: Manager for Disabled Chess

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Tue Nov 05, 2013 6:36 pm

The beauty of chess is that anybody can play it regardless of age, gender or disability. However it occurs to me that perhaps chess is not promoted as an activity for the disabled; I'm thinking specifically of younger players with physically impairments who might not know that chess can be as fiercely competitive as any contact sport. There might be an opportunity here, not just for the ECF but for chess as a whole.

Also, as David Robertson says, there might be issues with disabled access - in the Yorkshire League I've played in pub functions rooms at the top of narrow flights of stairs which would be impossible for a player in a wheelchair. Congresses are probably healthier because they to be held in more disabled friendly venues but if there were any instances of congresses turning away disabled players at least there would be a designated individual at the ECF who could pursue complaints and impose sanctions if not.

EDIT - typos belatedly fixed
Last edited by Andrew Zigmond on Tue Jan 21, 2014 12:52 am, edited 1 time in total.
Controller - Yorkshire League
Chairman - Harrogate Chess Club
All views expressed entirely my own

David Robertson
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Re: Manager for Disabled Chess

Post by David Robertson » Tue Nov 05, 2013 7:01 pm

Ernie Lazenby wrote:I am not sure why this position is required....Maybe I am missing the point if so please enlighten me. To me its just another layer of (bureaucracy)....I agree with David, the provisions of the act are often ignored and that's wrong.
OK, I'll try to shed a little light.

Consider the following:

* of 675 chess clubs in England, only 43 grant full unimpeded access to players with mobility limitations
* since the Disability Discrimination Act (1995), 146 chess clubs in England have worsened their access
* 1396 chess players in England would still be playing chess at club level if they could find an accessible club
* only 14 chess clubs in England have a disability policy
* 78 chess players have been injured since 2010 in attempts to access a chess club

Now, Ernie, I must advise you that I haven't a clue whether any of the above is true - because no one has ever bothered to explore the matter. I made up all those 'facts' as illustration.

But you'd have to admit, I think, that you'd be alarmed and concerned if any were even remotely true. And I bet some are. The least Jack could do would be to scope the lie of the land. Just about every other service provider has long since conducted a disability audit. But not ECF, to my knowledge.

Finally, you agree with me that the provisions of the Equality Act (2010), into which the DDA (1995) is now folded, should be heeded. Good. But if they were met, then those 483 chess clubs that meet exclusively upstairs over the pub would need to find other premises - because currently they are acting unlawfully.

And why do they meet upstairs? Because the rooms are cheap. And why are they cheap? Because no self-respecting club or association, careful to respect disability access, will touch them. No one except a chess club! It's shameful.

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Manager for Disabled Chess

Post by Roger de Coverly » Tue Nov 05, 2013 7:07 pm

David Robertson wrote: And why do they meet upstairs? Because the rooms are cheap. And why are they cheap? Because no self-respecting club or association, careful to respect disability access, will touch them. No one except a chess club! It's shameful.
What would you prefer? No chess club at all or one without wheelchair access.

J T Melsom
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Re: Manager for Disabled Chess

Post by J T Melsom » Tue Nov 05, 2013 7:26 pm

Roger, I think the point here is that for the disabled there is the real prospect that the choice of venue by able bodied people means they already effectively have no chess club. Clearly the response to the legislation needs to be proportionate and in some areas affordable venues are in short supply, but the question needs to be asked. If a club moved to a venue which was worse for the disabled than an existing venue, should a county refuse to let them enter events run under their auspices? Or to be selfish about this if my strongest player used a wheelchair would I want to see my team weakened just because the other club had a blatant disregard for human rights? We have a club in Bucks which moved upstairs from a perfectly good downstairs room in the same venue.

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Manager for Disabled Chess

Post by Roger de Coverly » Tue Nov 05, 2013 7:38 pm

J T Melsom wrote:
If a club moved to a venue which was worse for the disabled than an existing venue, should a county refuse to let them enter events run under their auspices?
Hence my question. Do you prevent twenty people playing for the sake of what might well be only a theoretical individual?
J T Melsom wrote: Or to be selfish about this if my strongest player used a wheelchair would I want to see my team weakened just because the other club had a blatant disregard for human rights?
The other point is that a single player shouldn't be able to hold an entire league to ransom and would hopefully not wish to.

If it's legal for a club, pub or Community Association to let a function room without disabled facilities it is presumably equally legal for an unincorporated association to hire it.

David Robertson
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Re: Manager for Disabled Chess

Post by David Robertson » Tue Nov 05, 2013 7:45 pm

Legal, yes. Lawful, no.

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Manager for Disabled Chess

Post by Roger de Coverly » Tue Nov 05, 2013 7:51 pm

David Robertson wrote:Legal, yes. Lawful, no.
I'll reword the question then.

If it's lawful for a club, pub or Community Association to let a function room without disabled facilities it is presumably equally lawful for an unincorporated association to hire it.

Brendan O'Gorman
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Re: Manager for Disabled Chess

Post by Brendan O'Gorman » Tue Nov 05, 2013 7:55 pm

David Robertson wrote:
-- text omitted--

Finally, you agree with me that the provisions of the Equality Act (2010), into which the DDA (1995) is now folded, should be heeded. Good. But if they were met, then those 483 chess clubs that meet exclusively upstairs over the pub would need to find other premises - because currently they are acting unlawfully.

-- text omitted
David, while I applaud the sentiment behind your argument, this statement is too sweeping. The Act requires that reasonable steps are taken to provide access. Affordability is one of the factors used to determine what is reasonable. More importantly, over emphasising the right to enter a particular space risks misleading people into thinking that is all that access entails. People also need to consider whether the service (if that is what a chess club is) could be provided in another space. An example of this occurs in one congress I play in where the main playing area is inaccessible but a separate accessible room is provided for any wheelchair entrants. Not as inclusive as having everyone in the same space, I agree, but better than pointing to the stairs and saying 'There's nothing we can do'.

Ian Kingston
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Re: Manager for Disabled Chess

Post by Ian Kingston » Tue Nov 05, 2013 8:09 pm

Ernie Lazenby wrote:I have been on very good terms with several disabled players, one in particular who is a regular on the circuit, I doubt he wants special treatment by the ECF simply because he has a condition which has not in any way prevented him from playing and winning events.

Maybe I am missing the point if so please enlighten me. To me its just another layer of beaurocracy.
You're right - players with a disability don't want special treatment. They want to be treated the same as everybody else, which means not being told that they can't play in a particular match because the opposition can't provide wheelchair access. Or they can play, but it will have to be in a noisy downstairs bar because the club room is upstairs.

My old club (West Nottingham) was instrumental in getting changes made to the rules of the Derby & District League to make clubs responsible for providing disabled access, including changing the venue for a match when access isn't possible. We also tried to get a change made to the Notts League rules, but if I recall correctly only a voluntary agreement was put in place.

Some clubs claimed exemption from the Equality Act by virtue of their small size. They made it quite clear that they weren't going to make any effort at all.

I agree with David Robertson that the ECF should take a lead in this area and I'm delighted that Jack Rudd now has the job.
Roger de Coverly wrote:The other point is that a single player shouldn't be able to hold an entire league to ransom
I am so tired of this argument. A wheelchair user has to put up with obstructions to normal life every single day. Why can't a chess club make provision once or twice a year? It seems that David's prediction (point 6 in his first post in the thread) was right on the mark.

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Manager for Disabled Chess

Post by Roger de Coverly » Tue Nov 05, 2013 8:34 pm

Ian Kingston wrote:Why can't a chess club make provision once or twice a year?
It isn't once or twice a year if a club has to give up otherwise satisfactory premises. As Brendan points out, a key word is "reasonable". If there was one wheelchair player in a league, it would be reasonable at a pinch for a club with upstairs access to agree to play that one match a season away provided that player was in the team rather than to be compelled by the ECF or the local league to find another venue.

I can give another example of players with disabilities holding leagues to ransom. Take the abolition of adjournments and the adoption of quick play finishes or increments. These have been blocked or attempted to be blocked by visually handicapped players.

The BCF set up a committee ten years ago and had Bruce Birchall as a Council member to represent members / players with disabilities. Activity seemed to cease on the formation of the ECF. Internationally FIDE recognise three supra national bodies and allows them to play in Olympiads. These correspond to the Braille Chess Association and the English Deaf Chess Association plus IPCA, for which no corresponding national body exists. Ten years ago, Gerry Walsh was talking vaguely about setting one up, not that very much happened.

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