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A new study has revealed that four in five disabled people want to be more physically active – but feel that their needs aren't catered for

Published in Sports Management 2020 issue 2
The report's recommendations include a call for the sports sector to challenge perceptions through inclusive and accessible communications
The report's recommendations include a call for the sports sector to challenge perceptions through inclusive and accessible communications

Four in five (81 per cent) disabled people want to be more physically active – but are unable to, as the demand for their needs is not being met by operators. The figure comes from the latest Annual Disability and Activity Survey, published by the Activity Alliance, which offers an in-depth comparison of disabled and non-disabled adults’ experiences of sport and activity.

Less than half (40 per cent) of disabled people feel they are given the opportunities they need to be active, compared to 71 per cent of non-disabled people. Meanwhile, less than a third of disabled people (32 per cent) agree that organised sport is for someone like them – compared to 63 per cent of non-disabled thinking the same.

The revelations come after figures from Sport England revealed that disabled people are twice as likely to be inactive as those without impairments.

To tackle the issues, the report makes three recommendations for sport, health and other sectors to work towards. These are to address the wider determinants of inactivity, to design and lead a choice of accessible activities and to challenge perceptions through inclusive and accessible communications.

“For the first time, we are able to compare perceptions and experiences of disabled people to non-disabled people," said Barry Horne, CEO for Activity Alliance.

"This is a first new step in gathering a snapshot of real life for a huge number of people in our population.

“We want to achieve fairness for disabled people in sport and activity, a position where disabled people are as active as non-disabled people. The findings provide robust insight to Activity Alliance and our partners. This report will be key to helping us – as well as others – to begin changing the reality of disability, inclusion and sport.”

Tim Hollingsworth, CEO of Sport England, added: “At Sport England we are all too aware that there’s an unacceptably high gap in activity levels between disabled and non-disabled people, and that despite a desire to be more active, many disabled people are missing out on the range of benefits that can be gained through physical activity.

“Activity Alliance’s first Annual Survey increases our insight into this issue and throws down a challenge to all in the physical activity sector: to use this new understanding to make sure that far more disabled people can get physically active in a way that is right for them.

"It’s a challenge that personally I know we must take up.”

Barry Horne
"For the first time, we are able to compare perceptions and experiences of disabled people to non-disabled people" - Barry Horne, CEO, Activity Alliance
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