People with disabilities are not taking up sport because they are not confident about doing so and are not aware of the opportunities available, says the English Federation of Disability Sport (EFDS). In addition, non-disabled people do not feel comfortable about supporting disabled people to take part in sport.
These are the findings of a three-month market research programme undertaken by the EFDS to gain a greater understanding of the barriers to participation in sport amongst those with disabilities. The research follows recent surveys by Sport England and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport which showed that the majority of disabled people state that their health or disability is the main factor preventing them from getting involved in sport.
The EDDS’s focus group research showed that the various barriers to participation identified can be categorised into three main areas: physical barriers, where necessary adaptations or changes to support participation are not available, logistical barriers, where adaptations have been made but have not been implemented effectively, and psychological barriers, which relate to attitudes, opinions and perceptions preventing participation in sport.
The researchers concluded that psychological barriers are the most influential, affecting both disabled people’s personal impression of sport, and non-disabled people’s attitudes towards disabled people’s ability to play sport.
The EFDS’s Chief Executive Barry Horne said that “This research is especially important given the low participation of disabled people in sport…Whether physical or psychological, barriers in the sporting environment continue to be preventing disabled people enjoying activity at every level”.
The findings of the EFDS’s research can be viewed at: