Psychological barriers greatest hurdle to participation
Today English Federation of Disability Sport releases a report which gives greater insight into disabled people and their perceptions on sport. This is in reaction to worrying figures identified by numerous surveys, including the DCMS Taking Part survey and Sport England’s Active People Survey, that the majority of disabled people state their health or disability prevents them from participating.
The English Federation of Disability Sport (EFDS), the national sports body for disabled people in sport, believed this needed further investigation into disabled people’s perceptions of sport, rather than make assumptions about why they believe their health and disability are the main participation barriers.
As a result, EFDS has spent the last three months conducting qualitative market research to gain a greater understanding of the barriers to taking part among disabled people and the extent to which these are similar or different across people with different impairments.
The focus group research showed the numerous barriers identified can be categorised into three main areas:
- Physical barriers- adaptations or changes needed to support participation are not available or have not been implemented
- Logistical barriers- adaptations have been made but have not been implemented effectively
- Psychological barriers- attitudes, opinions and perceptions preventing participation in sport
The research made it clear that the psychological barriers are the most influential- impacting on both disabled people’s personal impression of sport, and non-disabled people’s attitudes towards disabled people’s ability to play sport. These perceptions result in a lack of awareness and opportunities for disabled people. In addition, a lack of confidence and self belief prevent disabled people from trying sport or physical activity, while non-disabled people feel uncomfortable supporting disabled people to take part.
Commenting on the in-depth research, EFDS’s Chief Executive Barry Horne said:
“This research is especially important given the low participation of disabled people in sport. We hope the findings of our report are used to plan and engage disabled people with all impairments in opportunities, which are more focused on their needs. Whether physical or psychological, barriers in the sporting environment continue to be preventing disabled people enjoying activity at every level”.
The report provides insight into the barriers’ impact as well as recommending ways in which they may be overcome. You can read the report in depth within our research section.
Contact Emma Spring our Research and Insight Manager for more information
Barry Horne, Chief Executive or Emma Spring, Research and Insight Manager for EFDS are available for interviews. For further press information please contact:
Sarah Marl, Marketing and Communications Manager e-mail or 07764 291671
More details on the research:
- There were a total of 31 respondents across four focus groups, one per impairment:
- Deaf* n=5
- Learning disability** n=7
- Blind or partially sighted n=10
- Physically impaired n=8
*While the intention was to hold a focus group for deaf and hard of hearing people, the focus group only consisted of people who were profoundly deaf.
**Two support workers and two parents also played a contributory role in the learning disability group
- When asked to define sport, common words to describe it included socialising, competitions, health and fun, whereas physical activity was described as leisurely, something more individual and for people with a physical impairment just the concept of living daily life
- The main benefits of sport were the ability to socialise, the health and fitness benefits and the empowerment it provides
- Physical barriers include facilities, equipment and health and safety restrictions
- Logistical barriers include geography, expense, support of others, communication and suitability