An Inclusive Model of Ability in Physical Activity
Inclusive physical activity emphasizes ability and constructing contexts for maximizing success within a range of physical activity programs. The inclusive model of ability in physical activity (IMAPA) integrates concepts from the ICF model but goes one step further by more clearly operationalizing how individuals with disabilities are included and how specific functional changes occur for individuals within these physical activity settings. The approach is ability based and multifocused, thus providing key concepts and strategies for increasing capability, performance, and participation (figure 2.2).
Inclusive physical activity is both person centered and contextually situated. Information regarding health conditions or body functions is significant in terms of activities that might or might not be recommended or contraindicated for the individual. Labels are removed, and individuals are valued, respected, and given equality. How individuals are valued and the psychosocial consequences of these views are considered because they relate to acceptance by others and self-determining behaviors of participants. The approach focuses on personal development and achievement; it considers and plans an environment and social context that can positively influence the successful and meaningful involvement of all individuals in physical activity. As with the ICF, IMAPA does not focus on individuals with identifiable labels but includes all individuals within any given program. The focus is on meeting the needs of all individuals by striving to create universally designed programs and enhancing functioning, independence, and health.
IMAPA differs from previous models in that it embeds these important philosophical values into a practical approach for considering successful physical activity participation for all individuals. First, the IMAPA model offers considerations and strategies aimed at increasing acceptance of all individuals with disabilities as healthy and active people. Second, by identifying and overcoming a range of personal and contextual barriers, the model creates equal access to the broad range of physical activity opportunities possible. Third, the model embraces accommodation of individual differences through a range of modification strategies to achieve effective and successful activity involvement.
As we have mentioned, IMAPA integrates aspects from the current views of functioning and participation to achieve the three A’s identified earlier. IMAPA also professes two important practical concepts related to physical activity involvement. The first relates to the dynamic interplay of the person, task, and environment as they relate to capability differences. The second focuses on the dynamic nature of capability, also known as “capability shifting.”
A person’s capability cannot be evaluated based only on his or her abilities; the task being executed as well as the context must also be considered. In contrast to the assumptions of the medical model discussed in chapter 1, “disability” does not follow an individual across tasks and contexts. Performance is based on a dynamic interaction among an individual’s abilities, the nature of the task or movement skill, and the circumstances under which the tasks are being completed. For example, an adult with limited leg strength might have difficulty walking across a room. However, this individual may walk quite proficiently in a swimming pool given the increased buoyancy of the water. Thus it would be inaccurate to say this individual is “disabled” across all contexts. Rather, ability depends on the individual, the task, and the
The second important component of an inclusive physical activity approach relates to the concept of capability shifting, in that an individual’s capability to perform a given task is altered by changing any one of the three factors involved in performance: the individual’s skill level, the context in which the task is performed, or the task itself (figure 2.2). An appreciation of the concept of capability shifting provides a greater opportunity for inclusion and success by allowing for strategies that focus on the task and environment rather than solely on the individual. The focus shifts from disability to ability. For instance, a child with balance problems might have difficulty catching a ball with two hands while standing. An observer might conclude that the child has poor eye–hand coordination and is not capable of catching the ball. But if we place this same child in a chair, he or she might catch the ball effectively from the same distance (figure 2.3). Without the element of balance required for standing, the child’s capability and thus success is increased.