Operational Rules

Section E11: Disabled Spectators - A Code Of Conduct For RL Clubs

It is important that Clubs are proactive to provide a high level of service to disabled supporters. This Code of Conduct provides guidance on a range of issues which clubs will face. For further guidance please contact the RFL.

Clubs need to be aware that the match day experience begins before the supporter arrives at the ground and that there will be a whole host of concerns for disabled supporters going to a game. Publicising as much information as possible is important so that any concerns can be addressed.

It is vitally important that clubs understand that the individual needs of disabled spectators may vary significantly dependent on whether the barriers that affect them are physical (wheelchair users and restricted mobility) sensory (hearing and visual), intellectual (learning disability or difficulty, psychological (mental health needs), long term health conditions or attitudinal and as such services and policies should reflect this fact.

The access audit will provide clubs with detailed and club specific information regarding all the points listed below however as the programme of audits will take a full year to complete it is important that in the meantime clubs have an understanding of some of the key barriers facing disabled people as outlined below in order to provide an appropriate level of service to disabled supporters: -

Access information – clubs should complete or update the RFL disabled spectators information sheet annually by the end of January to ensure that information relating to facilities and services for disabled spectators is up to date. This document could then be uploaded onto the club website for use by disabled home and away supporters and a copy provided for the Ground Safety Officer so that he or she can ensure that all stewards are fully aware of match day facilities and services


Accessible seating – clubs should consider the following issues when designating accessible seats – sightlines, adequate protection against the elements, no standing supporters in front of these seats, ideally not located near opposition fans, proximity to entrances, emergency exits, toilets and refreshments. Where opposition supporters are restricted to one area/stand, spaces should be allocated in the same area for disabled supporters. 30% of accommodation must be reserved for away supporters

Accessible toilets – checked and alarm tested before kick off and 10 minutes prior to half time, and be appropriately stewarded to prevent non-disabled usage. Toilets for disabled supporters should be appropriately fitted, appropriate located and well signposted. Alarm systems should be fitted and staff briefed on how to respond to an alarm call.  Clubs should consider using RADAR keys to prevent non-disabled usage.

Admissions policy - There should be a published and consistent pricing policy for disabled supporters and their carers/personal assistants (PA). There should also be some facility to reserve accessible seating. It is suggested that clubs charge full price/concession (as appropriate) for disabled supporters and provide the carer/PA with a complementary ticket. The Proof of Eligibility requirements should be clearly signed. However it is important not to assume a person accompanying a disabled supporter is a carer or personal assistant, they may be a partner or friend and therefore liable to pay full price. Please ask about their role.

Assistance Dogs – stadium staff should be aware of how to accommodate Assistance Dogs coming into the ground.

Braille signs – consider installing for the benefit of visually impaired supporters. Consideration should also be given to the availability of documents such as programmes in alternative formats such as Braille or audio versions.

Carer’s seats adjacent to accessible seats – a disabled supporter should not be separated from their carer/personal assistant

Contrasting colours – should be used to highlight doorways, walkways and steps to assist visually impaired supporters.

Dedicated steward – with responsibility to ensure disabled supporters receive a high level of service. Duties to include, prevention of non-disabled usage of facilities, provision of refreshments if not accessible and emergency evacuation assistance. Please bear in mind that, for safety reasons, the area should not be left unstewarded at any time.

Disabled Supporter Liaison Officer (DSLO) – a dedicated club official to facilitate two-way communication between the club and supporters. A point of contact for home and away fans. Should make contact with opposition DSLO who can then in turn provide advice to away supporters.

Disability audit Over the course of 2013 the Facilities Trust will fund a full access audit of all Championship clubs whilst Super League will fund their own audit as part of their wider commitment to providing an excellent customer experience. Clubs should ensure that a named member of the club acts as point of contact between the auditor, club staff, volunteers and disabled spectators in order to ensure clubs gain the maximum benefit from the process. Clubs should also commit to a timetabled programme to address actions highlighted by the audit report

Disability Awareness Training – As part of the auditing process clubs will be provided with disability awareness training. Clubs should ensure that key staff attend the training in particular the Ground Safety Officer, senior stewards, DLO, front of house, ticket office, retail and hospitality staff At the start of the season the DSLO should as a minimum, ensure that all appropriate staff are aware of this Code of Conduct and the issues it covers and the disability guidance for clubs (see below)

Disability Guidance for Clubs – The RFL has developed a disability guidance for clubs which includes information on each disability and impairment group, suggestions on adapting coaching and playing for disabled athletes, club support for disabled staff volunteers and spectators, a Rugby League case study as well as contact details for organisations that can provide specific information and support. This resource can be downloaded from the RFL website in the Equity and Diversity Section

Family/friends seats – wherever possible clubs should try to keep an area of seats adjacent to the accessible seating for purchase by family and friends of disabled supporters.

Feedback – it is important for clubs to get to know their disabled supporters. This can be done by giving the disabled supporters a voice by establishing a Disabled Supporters Group and/or encouraging disabled supporters to complete the match day feedback form on the RFL website Equity and Diversity which provides an opportunity to identify any problems as well as examples of good practice in relation to the entire matchday experience.

Hearing loops and audio systems - Where possible hearing loop and audio facilities should be made available to home and away supporters with hearing or visual impairments. There should be clear instructions on the availability of this facility, how it is accessed and used and a designated contact person in the stadium on match days to respond should there be any equipment malfunctions or difficulties using the system

Lighting - Lighting levels should be good at points were there will be interaction between staff and a supporter to aid sight for those supporters who lip read or are visually impaired.

Parking – accessible parking should be provided where possible this should be close to the stadium with easy access to the stadium. 30% of disabled supporter parking should be reserved for away supporters. Parking should be appropriate for disabled supporters, e.g. wide bays and rear loading room. Drop-off points should also be in place, although it must be remembered that some disabled supporters will drive themselves to the ground so drop-off would not be appropriate.

Proof of Eligibility – Must be clearly displayed on the website and at the ticket office. All relevant staff should be aware of the eligibility requirements. Following advice, the RFL recommend that eligibility criteria includes those people who are :-

“Receiving incapacity benefits, invalid carer's allowance, Disability living allowance care component, severe disability allowance or attendance allowance, War pension disability allowance or a person registered blind. Please note that not everyone will claim allowances for their own reasons but that does not necessarily mean they are not entitled to a carers ticket, therefore the following may also be accepted in place of disability benefits; A letter from their GP (can be a significant charge for this) or a letter from the person’s social worker or community nurse

Blue badges can be used as proof to access parking, however are not suitable for ticket office proof as they must remain in the car. It is important that car park stewards check that one of the people in the car is the person on the photograph on the blue badge.

Refreshments – should either be accessible or a member of staff should facilitate the provision of refreshments.

Signage – should be clear and at the appropriate places. As a minimum it is recommended to provide signage for entrances, exits, toilets and refreshments

Stadium Facilities – clubs should ensure that shops, ticket offices, hospitality suites, boxes etc have reasonable adjustments made to overcome any physical barriers to access.

Visiting Supporter Allocations – the away club has the right to ask for 30% of the disabled supporter spaces at both Cup and League games both in terms of seating and parking

Visual displays - Scoreboards should be clear and informative and consideration should be given to using scoreboards in the event of an evacuation to inform hearing impaired supporters.

Website – Clubs should publish their policies regarding disabled supporters on their websites. Websites should also provide clear information on access issues in the stadium as well as information on how to purchase tickets. Please check for appropriate language i.e. do not refer to disabled tickets, they are tickets for disabled supporters, use the term non-disabled rather than able bodied and wheelchair users rather than wheelchair bound!

If you have any good practice that should be shared throughout the game please contact the RFL Operations department.

NB This Code of Conduct is advisory and this Code does not alter a Clubs legal responsibilities under the Disability Discrimination Act neither does it replace a Club’s obligations under the RFL Operational Rules including the Minimum Ground Standards