Did you know that 14.7 million people in England have an impairment or health condition? This equates to more than 1 in 5 people.
What's more, these groups are largely under-represented in the sports sector, with many wanting to do more sport.
Why is it important to make your club inclusive to disabled people?
Sport is something which can, and should, be enjoyed by everyone - regardless of race, gender, age, sexual-orientation or disability.
Many clubs are looking for ways to increase membership and participation. As a fifth of the English population is disabled or has a health condition, by not being welcoming and inclusive to these people, you are effectively ruling out a large group who could bring their skills, talents, energy and enthusiasm to your club.
Being inclusive may not necessarily mean running fully inclusive sessions for all members to attend - it may be tailoring some sessions or introducing bespoke sessions. You can include disabled people in many different ways.
What stops disabled people from taking part in sport?
There are many barriers which prevent disabled people from participating in sport. These can be broken down into three main types: psychological, physical and logistical barriers. Each of these is explored in more detail below:
Disabled people may suffer from personal perceptions which make them feel that they either can't or don't want to take part in sport. This may be because they've had a bad experience in the past and are hesitant to take the risk of playing sport again. If your club is welcoming, supportive and you offer a positive experience when they first visit, this can help break down this barrier.
The perceptions of others also play a role in creating psychological barriers. For example, if you are unable to advise a disabled person when they are enquiring about the club about the opportunities available, they will instantly feel unwelcome or uncatered for, even if this isn't the case.
It's also important to remember that the Equality Act 2010 requires sports clubs to make reasonable adjustments to services so everyone has access. This is a legal requirement. This does not just mean being wheelchair friendly - different disabilities or impairments may require other changes or adaptations.
Having accessible facilities and adaptations in place at your club will help overcome the physical barriers disabled people may experience. For more information on this, have a look at the Activity Alliance Access for All Facilities Guide.