One in five people in England have an impairment or long-term health condition – around 11.5 million people. These groups are largely under-represented in sport, with many wanting to take part. But there are many barriers which prevent them from participating. Activity Alliance reported in their Understanding Barriers research that these barriers can be broken down into three main types: psychological, physical and logistical.
- Disabled and non-disabled people’s views and opinions that prevent disabled people being active
- A lack of suitable facilities and equipment can prevent disabled people from participating in sport.
- These include the geographical location of an activity, the expense involved, support to take part, the communication of opportunities
Activity Alliance’s Talk to Me report provides three key steps you can take to help break down these barriers and welcome more people into your club:
- Drive awareness
- Word of mouth marketing: encouraging friends and family to be advocates for your club for disabled people could be very influential
- Encouraging healthcare professionals to promote your club in their waiting rooms, clinics and one-to-one consultations can be a positive step
- Make sure you have a social media presence and use it regularly.
- Direct mail can bring the information right to disabled people
- Put posters up in places that disabled people visit in their everyday life. These are places like schools, libraries, local takeaways, shopping centres or health centres.
- Placing adverts in local newspapers or magazines
- Engage the audience
- Leading communications with images and words which talk explicitly about a person’s impairment can often fail to inspire or motivate disabled people
- To make an activity or programme more attractive or appealing it must link to the things that disabled people value in life e.g. friendships, having fun, progressing in life
- Seek inspiration from some of the people already taking part to find out why they first came along and what they enjoy about the activity that makes them return
- Offer support and reassurance
- Help disabled people understand the ability levels required for the activity and ensure there are levels for everyone
- It is important to use the right language and messages to convey the level of ability
- Create a process that participants can use to share with instructors their specific needs without people being singled out e.g. a face to face chat with the instructor ahead of the session or an email, text message or phone call
- Use existing advocates to encourage, support and reassure others
For more information and advice, please visit Activity Alliance’s website www.activityalliance.org.uk