Dr Ralph Richards, Senior Research Consultant, Clearinghouse for Sport
Updated by: Christine May, Senior Research Consultant, Clearinghouse for Sport
Evaluated by: Australian Paralympic Committee , (January 2016)
Reviewed by: Australasian Sport Information Network
Last updated: 13 October 2020
Content disclaimer: See Clearinghouse for Sport disclaimer
People with a disability receive the same physical, mental, and social benefits from participating in sport and physical activity as those not having a disability. Legally, Australians of all abilities should have access to sport and physical activity opportunities.
Persons with a disability include individuals with physical, sensory, intellectual, psychiatric, and/or other health related disabilities.
Access to resources
Where possible, direct links to full-text and online resources are provided. However, where links are not available, you may be able to access documents directly by searching our licenced full-text databases (note: user access restrictions apply). Alternatively, you can ask your institutional, university, or local library for assistance—or purchase documents directly from the publisher. You may also find the information you’re seeking by searching Google Scholar.
Further resources and reading
- Attitudes of Australian swimming coaches towards inclusion of swimmers with an intellectual disability: An exploratory analysis, Hammond A, Young J and Konjarski L, International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching, Volume 9, Number 6 (2014). The purpose of this study was to examine coaches’ attitudes towards athletes with an intellectual disability (ID) within the Australian context. Coaches were grouped by their past association (having coached an ID athlete within the past 5 years) as always, sometimes, or never. Coaches who have always included ID athletes had the most favourable attitudes about the benefits. The findings highlight the need for improved coach education regarding the needs of all participants.
- 'Coach education in Australia in relation to athletes with a disability', Goodman S, Vista Conference 1998, published 1999.
- 'Coaching athletes with an intellectual disability', Holland B, Goodman S and Walkley J, Australian Sports Commission (1997).
- Coaching athletes with disability: Preconceptions and reality, Wareham Y, Burkett B, Innes P an Lovell G, Sport in Society: Cultures, Commerce, Media, Politics, abstract published online ahead of print (4 January 2017). It is widely recognised that athletes with disability compete at an elite level that parallels elite abled-bodied athletes. The importance of quality coaching to develop an athlete’s full potential is similarly recognised. However, there is little research in the field of coaching elite athletes with disability, compared to other athletes. This research explored the holistic experience of coaching elite athletes with disability; assessing the coaches’ preconceptions, rewards and challenges within their coaching experience. Semi-structured interviews were held with 12 coaches of elite athletes from sports that included swimming, athletics, cycling, canoeing, triathlon, equestrian and wheelchair basketball. The results of the study identified that, although the coaches reported their experience as being overwhelmingly positive, they were also regularly confronted with difficulties not generally faced by coaches of non-disabled athletes.
- The Coaching chain: Reflections of disabled athletes and coaches, A report for sports coach UK, prepared by the Research Institute for Sport, Physical Activity and Leisure, Leeds Metropolitan University (2013). Studies suggest that actively engaging in sport improves physical health and psychological wellbeing and has positive social dimensions, and it should be acknowledged that some of the benefits to participation specifically support the quality of life of disabled people. Over the past ten years, the number and scale of research projects that focus on patterns of participation, experiences and attitudes to sport by disabled people has steadily increased and two key findings from this body of research are (1) Qualitative research that explores the experiences of young disabled people in physical education (PE) and sport is limited. Those small-scale qualitative studies that exist reveal that young disabled people have both positive and negative experiences of PE and school sport. A number of factors influence these experiences, including the attitudes that PE teachers, support staff, and classmates have toward disability and the knowledge and confidence of PE teachers to adapt lessons for disabled pupils; and (2) Sports participation survey data show that disabled adults participate less in sport and have a reduced breadth of experiences within sport. Athletes interviewed in this research identified a number of characteristics associated with a good coach and then added a number of characteristics they thought would make the coach better.
- 'Coaching children with a disability or medical condition', Goodman S, Aussie Sport Action (Autumn issue 1994).
- 'Coaching methods when working with swimmers with a disability' (second edition), published by Swimming Australia (1992).
- 'Coaching swimmers with a disability', Speirs J, proceedings of the Australian Swimming Coaches and Teachers Conference (2001).
- 'Error free learning with athletes with a disability: an ideal coaching method for all sports', Longden, M, Australian Coaching Council, National Conference (1995).
- 'Give it a go: coaching athletes with disabilities', Coffey D and Goodman S, Australian Sports Commission (1992). ‘Give it a go’ was developed by the Aussie Able program in consultation with the Australian Coaching Council as part of the Coaching Athletes with Disabilities (CAD) scheme.
- Inclusive coaching (PDF - 95 KB, Australian Sports Commission (2010). Information on how modifying coaching practices and activities can ensure that every participant, regardless of age, gender, ability level, disability and ethnic background has the opportunity to participate if they choose to.
- 'Integration of elite athletes with a disability into high performance programs', Lee K, Australian Coaching Council, National Conference (1995).
- 'Let's do it together: coaching tennis players with disabilities', Clydesdale K, published by Tennis Australia (1993). This manual gives background information and coaching hints for coaches of tennis players with disabilities.
- 'Serve tennis up to everyone: a resource on coaching tennis players with a disability', Tessier K and Cunningham D, published by Tennis Australia (2004). Information contained in this resource is adapted from the Australian Sports Commission's Disability Education Program course materials and resources.
- 'Swimming against the current: a practical teaching and coaching manual for swimmers with disabilities', Green A, self published (2010).
- 'Will you be my coach? Coaching a swimmer with a disability', Keough B, Swimming in Australia, Volume 25, Number 6 (2005).
Disability education and awareness
- 7 Pillars of Inclusion: Helping sport with inclusion and diversity (Swimming and Netball). The 7 Pillars of Inclusion is a unique web-based tool to help individuals and sport organisations identify their strengths and weaknesses around the inclusion of disadvantaged populations, and what can be done. The Pillars represent the common areas of Inclusion, giving a framework that can be used as a starting point. It will educate, inform and give practical direction so that sport becomes more inclusive and diverse.
- Access for All Abilities. Information about this Victorian Government initiative designed to link local sporting clubs, State Sporting Associations, sport and recreation organisations, and community health groups.
- Advocacy for All: A quick guide to including disability in development policy, Australian Disability Development Consortium (2013).
- Autism Spectrum Disorder and youth sports: The role of the sports manager and coach(abstract), Ohrberg N, JOPERD: The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, Volume 84, Number 9 (2013). This paper from the U.S. examines the roles of sports managers and coaches in delivering sport programs to young people with autism. Although there are specific programs designated as therapeutic recreation programs, with the specific structure and resources to support and provide activities for children with special needs; most private and municipal sport and recreation programs focus on serving the general public, without the resources to address the needs of children affected by ASD. This article contends that in the majority of community sport settings, there is little attention to special needs groups. The author highlights the desperate need for programs that meet the specific needs of youth with ASD.
- Doing Sport Differently: A guide to exercise and fitness for people living with disability or health conditions, published by Disability Rights UK (2012).
- Elite athletes or superstars? Media representation of para-athletes at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games (abstract), McPherson G, O’Donnell H, McGillivray D and Misener L, Disability and Society, Volume 31, Issue 5 (2016). This paper analyses media representations of para-athletes before, during and after the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014. The authors consider the importance of the media-sport cultural complex in influencing public attitudes towards disability. They conclude that whilst the importance of media exposure cannot be underestimated, change at the level of lived experience will only flow from carefully designed and executed political and policy initiatives rather than directly from changes in the media presentation or visibility of individual athletes.
- How to develop disability awareness using the sport education model, Foley J, Tindall D, Lieberman L and So-Yeun K, JOPERD: The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, Volume 78, Number 9 (2007). The authors examine how sport can be used in the school setting to affect positive change in terms of disability awareness and acceptance. They discuss the development of disability awareness for students using the sport education model (SEM) in the United States. The primary goal of the SEM is for students to become competent, literate and enthusiastic sportspersons. The authors assert that disability simulation exercises in inclusive settings can promote the acceptance of students with disabilities. To ensure a successful awareness program, physical education teachers need to provide an environment of acceptance that will give such students the opportunity to be physically active. It is also important for educators to fully explain the process to students without disabilities to develop positive attitudes towards physically and mentally-challenged students.
- The mainstreaming of disability cricket in England and Wales: Integration ‘One Game’ at a time, Kitchin P and Howe P, Sport Management Review, Volume 17, Number 1 (2014). This article examines British disability sport policy, highlighting the case of integration within sport by examining the process of mainstreaming disability cricket within England and Wales. The authors examine the impact of the implementation of policy on the management of issues of disability participation in mainstream cricket. The authors found that, despite an overarching policy of mainstreaming disability cricket, competitive values remained the dominant underpinnings of the approach used. The authors argue that this undermines the intent of mainstreaming disability cricket. While competitive values dominate cricket, other values such as inclusivity will remain marginalised. The authors argue that at this stage, the policy of mainstreaming simply reflects a rationalisation of sporting structures and systems rather than any systematic approach to achieve true integration. The study found little evidence of any critical examination of what mainstreaming intended to accomplish. The authors suggest that there is work to be done to achieve the original goals of inclusivity through mainstreaming and advocate the adoption of a relational approach.
- 'Making Inclusion Easy', Phillips S, Sports Coach, Volume 31, Number 1 (2010).
- Participation-performance tension and gender affect recreational sports clubs’ engagement with children and young people with diverse backgrounds and abilities, Spaaij R, Lusher D, Jeanes R, Farquharson K, Gorman S, Magee J, PLoS ONE, 14(4): e0214537, (2019). This mixed methods study investigated how diversity is understood, experienced and managed in junior sport. The study combined in-depth interviews (n = 101), surveys (n = 450) and observations over a three-year period. The results revealed that a focus on performance and competitiveness negatively affected junior sports clubs’ commitment to diversity and inclusive participation. Gender and a range of attitudes about diversity were also strongly related. On average, we found that those who identified as men were more likely to support a pro-performance stance, be homophobic, endorse stricter gender roles, and endorse violence as a natural masculine trait. In addition, those who identified as men were less likely to hold pro-disability attitudes. These findings suggest that the participation-performance tension and gender affect to what extent, and how, sports clubs engage children and young people with diverse backgrounds and abilities.
- Perceptions of a disability sport unit in general physical education (abstract), Grenier M, Collins K, Wright S and Kearns C, Adapted Physical Activity Quarterly, Volume 31, Number 1 (2014). This US study examined the use of sport to affect change in perceptions of disability in schoolchildren and assess the effectiveness of a disability sport unit in shaping perceptions of disability. Data from interviews, observations, and documents were collected on 87 elementary-aged students, one physical education teacher, and one teaching intern. The results showed differences in the way fourth and fifth grade students viewed individuals with disabilities. The results support the view that children undertaking the disability sport unit positively changed their perceptions of disability as a result. The authors recommend the use of disability sports in physical education as an effective strategy for educating students in game play, knowledge of the Paralympics, and the inclusion of individuals with disabilities in a variety of sporting contexts.
- Promoting the health and human rights of individuals with a disability through the Paralympic movement, Blauet C, International Paralympic Committee (2005). Several United Nations agencies have promoted an agenda of ‘Sport for Development’, using sport as a tool to stimulate international development and promote human rights within developing nations. In addition, sports and recreation have been proven to have a positive health impact on participants by increasing physical activity and mitigating the effects of many chronic health problems. The Paralympic Movement is attempting to harness the potential of these positive impacts and provide both grassroots and elite sporting opportunities to individuals with a disability, worldwide. This paper has been developed to outline the ways in which Paralympic sport can promote the concepts of health and human rights for people with a disability.
- Public attitudes toward people with intellectual disabilities after viewing Olympic or Paralympic performance, Ferrara K, Burns J and Mills, H, Adapted Physical Activity Quarterly, Volume 32, Issue 1 (2015). One of the aspirations of the 2012 Paralympic Games was to influence the public’s attitudes toward people with disabilities. The aim of this study was to investigate whether stimuli depicting people with intellectual disability performing at Paralympic level would change public attitudes. A mixed randomised comparison design was employed, comparing two groups; one group who viewed Paralympic-level sport footage of athletes with intellectually disability and another group who viewed Olympic footage of athletes. This study found that implicit (subconscious) attitudes significantly changed in a positive direction for both groups. Despite some limitations to this study, it seems that media coverage of the Paralympic and Olympic Games has the potential to change attitudes toward people with intellectual disability and disabilities in general in a positive direction.
- Tool Kit for people with disability and recreation service providers, 'Know Before You Go' NICAN and ACT Government publication (2011). This document provides self-assessment tools, fact sheets, promotional posters and check lists.
Disability and human rights
- Federal Government Involvement in Australian Disability Sport, 1981–2015, Andrew Hammond & Ruth Jeanes, International Journal of the History of Sport, (2017). This paper profiles the history of the Commonwealth government involvement in disability sport and explores how the policy of ‘mainstreaming’ has emerged through partnerships led by the Australian Paralympic Committee with National Sporting Originations (NSOs) and government. It argues that while these changes have arguably made mainstream NSOs more aware of their legal obligations and have led to positive changes in the provision of opportunities for people with a disability through the development of ‘Paralympic pathways’, there are some potential caveats of ‘mainstreaming’. Specifically, an emerging body of evidence which suggests that despite these policy measures, people with disabilities still report being marginalized and excluded from ‘mainstream’ sporting programmes. The authors question if less governmental leadership is the right path given the limitations of the present policy framework. Additionally, they highlight how performance-based funding mechanisms such as ‘Winning Edge’ are narrowing who is eligible for funding and thus curtailing finite resources for only the most ‘abled’ of the disabled.
- Sport and human rights (abstract), Donnelly P, Sport in Society, Cultures, Commerce, Media, Politics, Volume 11, Number 4 (2008). In this essay the author discusses sport and human rights in a variety of contexts to illuminate areas that have benefited from sport related policies aimed at addressing human rights. Following a brief introduction to current problems and concerns with regard to international human rights, this essay is structured around three overlapping themes: (1) the right to participate in sports; (2) the achievement of human rights through sport, and; (3) sport and the human rights of specific classes of persons. The paper shows how sport has been used to affect change and offers examples of sport interventions aimed at specific target groups. The paper also discusses policy initiatives aimed at improving gender equality and women’s experiences through sport. Overall, sport has been used to further human rights, with some instances of great success and some areas where there is still a way to go.
- Access for all: The rise of the Paralympic Games, Gold J and Gold M,Journal of The Royal Society for the Promotion of Health, Volume 127, Number 3 (2007). This article provides an in-depth examination of the Paralympic Games, its development, its mission and its impact on the disability sector. The Paralympic, or Parallel, Games for athletes with disabilities have played a major role over the past half century in changing attitudes towards disability and accelerating the agenda for inclusion. This article charts their development from small beginnings as a competition for disabled ex-servicemen and women in England founded shortly after the Second World War to the present day ambulatory international festival of Summer and Winter Games organised in conjunction with the Olympic Games. Despite initial success in staging the 1960 Games in Rome and the 1964 Games in Tokyo, subsequent host cities refused to host the competitions and alternative locations were found where a package of official support, finance and suitable venues could be assembled. In 1976, the scope of the Games was widened to accept more disabilities. From 1988 onwards, a process of convergence took place that saw the Paralympics brought into the central arena of the Olympics, both literally and figuratively. In the process they have embraced new sports, have encompassed a wider range of disabilities, and helped give credence to the belief that access to sport is available to all.
- Promoting social inclusion through unified sports for youth with intellectual disabilities: A five-nation study, McConkey R, Dowling S, hassan D and Menke S, Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, Volume 57, Number 10 (2013). This study examined social inclusion for young athletes with intellectual disabilities. Although the promotion of social inclusion through sports has received increased attention with physical disability groups, this is not the case for children and adults with intellectual disability who experience marked social isolation. The study evaluated the outcomes from the Youth Unified Sports Program, paying particular attention to the processes that were perceived to enhance social inclusion. The Youth Unified Sports program of Special Olympics combines athletes with intellectual disabilities and those without intellectual disabilities (called partners) of similar skill level in the same sports teams for training and competition. Alongside the development of sporting skills, the program offers athletes a platform to socialise with peers and to take part in similar experiences within their community. Unified football and basketball teams from five countries—Germany, Hungary, Poland, Serbia and Ukraine—participated in this study. Analysis revealed that across all countries and both sports there were four processes that were perceived to facilitate social inclusion for athletes with an intellectual disability: (1) the personal development of athletes and partners; (2) the creation of inclusive and equal bonds; (3) the promotion of positive perceptions of athletes, and; (4) building alliances within local communities. The study found that Unified Sports provides a vehicle for promoting the social inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities that is theoretically credible in terms of social capital scholarship and which contains lessons for advancing social inclusion in other contexts.
- The use of public sports facilities by the disabled in England, Kung S and Taylor P, Sport Management Review, Volume 17, Number 1 (2014). This study examined usage patterns of sports facilities by persons with a disability. It investigated whether there were statistical differences between the disabled sports participants and the non-disabled sports participants in terms of: (1) social demographics; (2) patterns of participation; (3) travel; (4) sports activities, and; (5) customer satisfaction. The data collected through the National Benchmarking Service, for 458 sports centres from 2005 to 2011. Swimming, using fitness equipment and fitness related activities were the top three preferences among persons with disability. They were more likely to participate in organised activities than non-disabled participants. The disabled were also more likely than the non-disabled to travel to venues by public transport and experienced longer travel time. Measures that can be taken to increase sports participation by the disabled include competent support at sports centres, promotions through discount schemes or leisure cards, and free transportation to sport centres in catchment areas where high proportions of disabled persons reside.
Disability, sport and health benefits
- Cerebral palsy: Physical activity and sport (abstract), Carroll K, Leiser J and Paisley T, Current Sports Medicine Reports (American College of Sports Medicine), Volume 5, Number 6 (2006). This article discusses the health benefits of physical activity and sports to people with cerebral palsy (CP). Many organisations recommend 30 minutes of moderate physical activity for persons with CP on most days of the week. Inactivity increases the risk factor of developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes. The difficulties faced by CP patients in becoming and remaining physically active are noted. The paper discusses various kinds of physical activity and sport participation that have been shown to be effective. The authors point out that for many people with CP, therapy is an ongoing aspect of their lives that begins in childhood and practitioners should be aware of alternatives to physical therapy, such as sport and physical activity (exercise). Benefits include improved health, improved functioning and independence, and enhanced enjoyment of life.
- In praise of sport: Promoting sport participation as a mechanism of health among persons with a disability (abstract), Wilhite B and Shank J, Disability and Health Journal, Volume 2, Number 3 (2009). The authors explore sport as a mechanism of health for people with a disability. Achieving and maintaining health are no less important to people with a disability than to anyone else; however, it may be more challenging. The International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) is used to frame the analysis and discussion of the narratives of 12 persons with a disability who participate in sport. The authors describe how participating in sport, broadly defined, helps persons with a disability achieve and maintain health and health-related components of well-being. Results revealed that sport benefits included enhanced functional capacity, health promotion, relationship development, increased optimism and inclusion in meaningful life activities and roles. Sport is a valuable and promising mechanism for fostering physical and emotional health and building valuable social connections.
- Physical activity, exercise, and sport, Nankervis K, Cousins W, Valkova H and Macintyre T, Chapter 16 in: ‘Health Promotion for People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities’, McGraw Hill and Open University Press, pp. 174-182. ISBN 9780335246946 (2013). Substantial empirical evidence conﬁrms that regular participation in physical activity contributes to health in individuals of all ages, gender, and ability. Yet numerous studies have also found that people with disabilities are less likely to engage in physical activity, are more sedentary, and tend to be less physically ﬁt than their peers. This chapter provides an overview of the evidence supporting the value of exercise and sport participation by people with an intellectual disability and, where available, the cascading beneﬁts for families. For people with intellectual disabilities, physical activity and sport participation offer opportunities to engage in experiences that provide physical, psychological, and social beneﬁts.
- Promotion of physical activity in individuals with intellectual disability, Standish H and Frey G, Salud Publica de Mexico (published in English), Volume 50, Supplement 2 (2008). Researchers have continued to examine the effects of exercise on outcomes of health-related fitness for persons with intellectual disability (ID). It is clear that individuals with ID adapt to increased levels of physical activity in much the same way as individuals without disabilities. Although it is important to note that individuals with Downs Syndrome may respond differently to exercise training. This paper reviews the effects of various intervention programs designed to increase physical activity among persons with an intellectual disability.
Social skills development
- Adolescent girls' involvement in disability sport: Implications for identity development(abstract), Anderson D, Journal of Sport & Social Issues, Volume 33, Number 4 (2009). This study examined the role of sport in identity development for young women with a physical disability. The author concluded that there is evidence of the power of sports to stimulate confidence, self- efficacy, and a self-perceived high quality of life for individuals with disabilities above and beyond the basic benefits to physical fitness. When taken together, the promotion of health, disability rights, and social integration through sports has the power to transform the lives of those who participate by providing opportunities.
- An Evaluation of the Wheelchair Tennis Development Fund, Richardson E and Papathomas A, Loughborough University (2013). This report evaluates the social and personal development impact of the International Tennis Federation’s (ITF) Wheelchair Tennis Development Fund (WTDF). This is one of the first scientific studies of its kind to investigate how participation in wheelchair tennis through this program affects the lives of those individuals involved. The program operates in 39 countries. The study found that involvement in wheelchair tennis led to numerous psychological and social benefits, which transferred into other domains of life. The psychological benefits included increased self-confidence and empowerment (particularly for women), increased opportunities for independence, and improved perceptions of persons with a disability. The program also created opportunities, such as sports scholarships for competitors and career pathways in coaching. Wheelchair tennis was also shown to have the potential to improve an individual’s self-perception. “I had a negative mentality” said one participant, “But, as time goes, I grow up and I realise that I don’t have to be ashamed of myself or who I am”. Players involved in the WTDF experience reported an improved social life, both through making friends and as a result of greater self-confidence. Participants felt wanted, supported, and worthy of someone else’s time. The program also helps to challenge the view society takes on disability.
- Determinants of social participation - with friends and others who are not family members - for youths with cerebral palsy, Kang L, Palisano R, Orlin M, Chiarello L, King G and Polansky M, Physical Therapy, Volume 90, Number 12 (2010). This study examined what factors determined the extent to which youths with cerebral palsy (CP) engage in social physical activities with people outside their family. Social participation provides youths with opportunities to develop their self-concept, friendships, and meaning in life. Youths with cerebral palsy (CP) have been reported to participate more in home-based leisure activities and to have fewer social experiences with friends and others than youths without disabilities. The participants were 209 youths who were 13 to 21 years old (52% male) with CP; parents also completed a questionnaire. The results suggest that physical therapists should address the goals and wishes for social participation of adolescents and young adults with CP through collaborative and meaningful goal setting as well as service planning and provision. Services and interventions that promote sports and communication abilities may enhance social opportunities with friends. Organised sports and physical activities provide a social context in which youths can experience team cooperation and build supportive networks. With appropriate instruction and practice, youths may improve their sports and physical activity skills, enabling greater participation.
- Developing the social skills of young adult Special Olympics athletes, Alexander M, Smeltzer A, Dummer G and Denton, Education and Training in Autism and Developmental Disabilities, Volume 46, Number 2(2011). This study aimed to determine whether young adult Special Olympics participants could develop, generalise and then maintain key social skills through a short Social Skills & Sports program that combined classroom activities and sport (soccer). The skills under examination were eye contact, contributing relevant information and turn taking. Using qualitative methods that included observation, interviews and questionnaires, the researchers found that all participants had successfully increased their ability to demonstrate at least one of the targeted skills and had generalised those skills to other settings. Participants were able to maintained these skills some five weeks following the termination of the program. Furthermore, some participants developed additional social skills, including standing at an appropriate distance and maintaining conversation.
- The effect of social skill instruction on sport and game related behaviors of children and adolescents with emotional or behavioral disorders (PhD dissertation), Samalot-Rivera A, Ohio State University (2007). This research examined children’s experiences in a sport program designed for young people with emotional and behavioural disorders. Many educators assume that students develop appropriate social skills as a by-product of participation in physical education and sports. This research demonstrates that appropriate social behaviours improve when sports interventions are used. The study specifically examines the instruction's influence on appropriate and inappropriate behaviours within both physical education and other settings. Examples of appropriate behaviours included – consisted of respecting one's own equipment and that of others, congratulating the winner, avoiding blaming teammates, following rules, working cooperatively, and avoiding criticism of the loser. Results showed that five of the six participants were able to increase appropriate sports/games behaviours and decrease inappropriate behaviours in a physical education setting, and three of the six participants were also able to do this in a more general setting.
- Personal development of participants in special Olympics unified sports teams, Wilski M, Nadolska A, Dowling S, Mcconkey R and Hassan D, Human Movement, Volume 13, Number 3 (2012). This study, conducted in Serbia, Poland, Hungary, Ukraine and Germany, identifies the impact of the Special Olympics' Unified Sports program on the personal development of its participants. Interviews collected personal histories from 221 participants. Athletes reported improvements in their abilities on the field as well as increased fitness and technical ability. They emphasised the importance of team-work and trust between athletes, including increased confidence, self-esteem and communication skills. Friendships were a central and vital aspect of taking part in the teams. The evaluation suggests that the benefits of participation transcend national boundaries and cultures at least within a European context.
- Sports and Disability (abstract), Wilson P and Clayton G, PM and R, Volume 2, Number 3 (2010). In this paper the authors describe the various ways that children with a disability can be engaged in sport in order to benefit from the same health and wellbeing outcomes available to non-disabled children. The authors argue that participation in recreational and competitive sports at an early age has long been touted as a positive influence on growth and development, and for fostering lifelong habits. The benefits of an active lifestyle include not only fitness, but the promotion of a sense of inclusion and improved self-esteem. These benefits are well documented in all populations. The American Academy of Paediatrics has recently produced a summary statement on the benefits of activity for disabled children. For disabled youth, participation in sports programs can be an effective means to promote personal and social benefits. Changes in societal attitudes and technology over the decades have greatly improved access to the benefits of sport for the disabled child. The paper lists the many and varied ways in which sports program practitioners and designers can include disability sports into a variety of settings, including school and community programs.
- Sport in the lives of young people with intellectual disabilities: Negotiating disability, identity and belonging, Smith L, Wedgwood N, Llewellyn G and Shuttleworth R, Journal of Sport for Development, Volume 3, Issue 5 (2015). Research on the role of sport in the lives of people with intellectual disabilities primarily focuses on improving fitness, health and social interactions. Yet sport is not only a form of physical exercise, competition or leisure pursuit — it’s also a powerful social institution within which social structures and power relations are reproduced and, less frequently, challenged. This paper provides insights into the role of sport and physical activity in the lives of four young Australians with intellectual disabilities or cognitive limitations from their own perspectives. Data from life history interviews elicits rich and in-depth insights, revealing the meanings these young people give to their sporting experiences, which include (but also go beyond) concerns with fitness, health and social interactions. Although not representative of all young people with intellectual disabilities, these four young people use sport to negotiate complex emotional worlds around disability, identity, and belonging — much like their physically impaired counterparts.
- The Autism Fitness Handbook, Geslak D, Jessica Kingsley Publishers (2014). This book provides an exercise program to boost body image, motor skills, cardiovascular fitness, posture, and confidence in children and adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
- Culture of competition discourages some kids from sport, Victoria University media release, (6 May 2019). A study of Aussie sports clubs finds that a culture of competitiveness is preventing kids from diverse backgrounds and abilities from participating in junior sport. The research also showed that many clubs were uncertain about the concept and how it related to them, or how to actively promote diversity and social inclusion. Some other key findings included: Diversity was often viewed as diverting resources from a club’s core business, which revolved around organising teams and improving playing skills; Clubs that actively promoted diversity were generally regarded by coaches and parents from outside clubs as not serious clubs, and suitable only for children who were ‘no good’ at sport; Men at clubs that focused on competition above participation were, on average, more likely to be homophobic, endorse stricter gender roles, enforce violence as a natural masculine trait, and were less likely to hold pro-disability attitudes.
- From Trauma to Rehabilitation and Elite Sport: The foundation years of disability sport in Victoria, Hess R and Klugman M, Victoria University (2014). The peak association responsible for providing sport and recreation opportunities for people with disabilities in Victoria is now known as Disability Sport & Recreation (DSR). Since its formation in 1962, primarily as a volunteer association, as the Victorian Paraplegic Sports Club, DSR has undergone a number of name changes. The story of disability sport in Victoria is not only the collective memory of the organisation, but the stories of the people involved, the care and support provided, as well as the opportunity to rehabilitate through participation in sport and recreation. This work establishes an authoritative narrative that draws on the oral history of those surviving individuals who played important roles in the establishment of the Victorian Paraplegic Sports Club just over 50 years ago.
- Game, Set, Match: An exploration of congruence in Australian disability sport sponsorship, Macdougall H, Nguyen S and Karg A, Sport Management Review, Volume 17, Issue 1 (2014). While there are non-profit disability sporting organisations that provide opportunities for sport participation to persons with disability; the sustainability of disability sporting organisations, associated sports, and athletes themselves, is contingent on greater commercialisation. The consideration of disability sport as an attractive sport property is the ultimate goal. In 2012 it was found that 70% of Australians followed the Paralympic Games and 74% were more likely to support a brand if it was a Paralympic sponsor. With these statistics in mind, Paralympic sport (and possibly disability sport) may leverage the commercial interest of brands that see sponsorship as a worthy opportunity. The general aim of this study was to provide greater understanding of how sponsorship management occurs in the context of disability sport and to better understand the role of shared values in that process. The authors examined sponsorships of ten Australian disability sport properties. Sponsors capitalised on shared values through broad communication and brand objectives such as community involvement, increasing corporate image, and leveraging employee morale. Brand objectives were related to the creation of emotional connections with target audiences and image enhancement given the credibility that sponsorship relationships created. ‘Standing for similar things’ formed the basis for half of the individual sponsorship relationships. The data suggested that the sponsor’s mission and philosophy were of greater importance in organisational sponsorship selection. Disability sport relationships illustrated a number of similarities to more traditional sport settings, a strong emphasis is placed by sponsors upon value and mission alignment to health objectives, rather than sales objectives. Disability sport sponsorship offers an opportunity for organisations to reinforce their involvement in corporate citizenship. Further, disability sport sponsorship provides a platform to unite staff and customers under a common cause and create a genuine sponsorship relationship that can inspire and motivate key stakeholders.
- Fair Play: strategic framework for inclusive sport and recreation, Government of Western Australia, Department of Sport and Recreation. This document from the WA Department of Sport and Recreations, in conjunction with the WA Disability Commission, provides a framework for inclusion of persons with a disability in sport and recreational activities to ensure that social and health benefits are available to everyone in WA.
- Getting involved in sport: Participation and non-participation of people with disability in sport and active recreation, Australian Sports Commission/University of Technologies, Sydney (2011). Increasing the number of Australians participating in sport and active recreation through an integrated, whole-of-sport approach is an essential element of the government’s new direction for sport. It is critical that we increase community participation and social inclusion by minimising disadvantages to people with disability. This report examines the factors that influence the participation (and non-participation) of people with disability, and investigates the potential benefits of sport and active recreation. Summary of the Report.
- 'Junior Sports Development for People with Disabilities' Proceedings of a National Consultation conducted by the National Committee on Sport and Recreation for the Disabled 1987, published by the Cumberland College of Health Sciences and the Commonwealth of Australia (1988). Print copy held by the NSIC.
- 'Kids – Disabled Integration and Clubs' AUSSIE Sports publication, Australian Sports Commission (1990). This booklet answers general questions posed by clubs and coaches regarding the integration of children with mild-to-moderate physical or intellectual disability into an Aussie Sport program. This publication contains a list of resources, organisations for the disabled, and contacts within the ASC and State Departments of Sport & Recreation. Print copy held by the NSIC.
- 'Participation in sport by people with disabilities, a national perspective' Lockwood R, Research Report, project funded by the Applied Sports Research Program of the National Sports Research Centre, Australian Sports Commission (1996). Print copy held by the Clearinghouse for Sport.
- Sport and Physical Recreation Participation Among Persons with a Disability: Some Data from the 2002 General Social Survey, Australian Bureau of Statistics prepared for the Standing Committee on Recreation & Sport, (July 2006). This paper reports on the participation and non-participation levels of people with a disability or LTC in sport and physical recreation. Data for the paper were sourced from the ABS General Social Survey in 2002.
- Sports CONNECT, Disability Sector Education Resource Project, consultation phase Report, Australian Sports Commission (2010). This report provides information on consultation with the disability services sector regarding the potential development of sport-based educational resource materials to assist practitioners and service users in physical recreation and sport.
- 'Sports CONNECT Research Update' – survey by the Australian Sports Commission and University of Technology Sydney (2010).
- Sports CONNECT Review 2010, Australian Sports Commission, (2010). This report provides a review of Sports CONNECT at the completion of the pilot and development phase.
- Teachers Talk About experiences of inclusive physical activity, Australian Sports Commission (1998). This report is part of the ‘Willing and Able’ physical education and sport for young people with disabilities project of the ASC.
- Understanding barriers to sport participation, Victorian Health Promotion Foundation, VicHealth report (2010).
- Australian Centre for Paralympic Studies, Oral History Project. The National Library of Australia holds a collection of audio recordings that trace the history of Paralympic sport in Australia.
- Play By The Rules. Free online education, information, training and resources about keeping your sport and club inclusive, safe and fair for everyone.
- Beyond the boundary resource kit (2009). Cricket Victoria. Beyond the Boundary aims to assist clubs and associations by providing them with a resource containing ideas, identification of potential barriers, success stories, other programs, and contacts for further assistance.
- The Catalogue of Australian Sport Sector Libraries holds the library collection records of the Australian Paralympic Committee and other major sports collection institutions.
Licencing restrictions apply to some resources listed below.
All Clearinghouse members
'Australian' members only
'High Performance' members only Restricted access Various restrictions
Please see Clearinghouse membership categories for further information.
- Towards Evidence-Based Classification in Paralympic Sport, Emma Beckman, University of Queensland, Smart Talk Seminar Series (26 October 2017)
- Seven Pillars of Inclusion, Peter Downs, Manager, Play by the Rules, Smart Talk Seminar Series (24 February 2014). In 2013 Play by the Rules embarked on a project to look at the commonalities of inclusion. The idea was to take a helicopter view of the inclusion of different population groups into sport and identify the common elements within a framework. Since the launch of the 7 Pillars, Swimming Australia has been working with Play by the Rules on a planning tool to help the aquatic community identify their strengths and weaknesses across the 7 Pillars - with the idea that this would provide an excellent starting point for organisations to tackle inclusion issues more globally. This work continues. In this presentation we will look at the development of the project and consider how the 7 Pillars can be used to identify the cultural 'habits' that facilitate inclusion across targeted populations.
- All in the Game - Creating an inclusive sporting environment for people with a disability, Sports Talks, Sydney Olympic Park, NSW (24 October 2013)
- Inclusion case study - Capital Football, Pat McCann, Capital Football, ACT Participation Workshop (17 May 2012) Capital Football mentor a coach with a disability and have subsequently placed the coach into a club.
- Discrimination and Inclusion, Alex Bright, Cycling Australia, Play By The Rules Forum for National Sports Organistations (18 April 2012)
Videos and webinars
- ‘Yes I Can’ – Paralympics Rio 2016 – We’re the Superhumans! (YouTube) Talented athletes and musicians come together in this video, produced by Channel 4 in the United Kingdom (UK broadcaster for the 2016 Paralympics).
- Are You On Board? The Are You On Board campaign was launched in 2014 to stimulate conversations around diversity issues – gender, disability and cultural diversity. As part of the campaign Vicsport has released several videos with the theme of inclusion for persons with disability; including Why should your club be inclusive? and What’s in it for Me?
- Changing lives through sport, Australian Disability and Development Consortium. Aidah Katushabe (Uganda) talks about how sport and learning about the Paralympic Movement has changed her outlook on life and given her more confidence.
- Inspirational porn and the objectification of disability - Stella Young, Australian disability rights advocate, delivered a thought provoking (and funny) talk as part of the TEDxSydney lecture series; The Inclusion Club.
- Saints Play - making AFL accessible for all, VicHealth/YouTube, (4 December 2018). VicHealth Innovation Challenge: Sport helps sports orgs get more Victorians off the couch and playing more sport more often, with a focus on those with low physical activity levels. The funding for Saints Play helped AFL and St Kilda Football Club develop inclusive environments for children with autism and their families.
- What's in it for me? Sport and people with a disability (YouTube). The VicSport campaign Are You On Board? Includes this video that discusses what persons with disability can gain from sport participation
Sports CONNECT Webinars
- Webinar 6 - Bringing it all together (7 April 2011). This webinar recapped the first six months of presentations in the Sports CONNECT webinar series. It revisits the frameworks that ‘set the scene’ for participation, including the Inclusion Spectrum and the TREE principle.
- Webinar 5 - Creating opportunities for participation by working together (3 March 2011). This webinar brought together content from the previous two webinars and showcased examples of how disability service provider agencies and sport providers have been working together to create more opportunities to participate.
- Webinar 4 - Benefits for Sport by Involving People with Disability (3 February 2011). Continuing on from Webinar 3 we will now look at what are the benefits and challenges of providing sporting opportunities for people with disability from the perspective of a sport provider.
- Webinar 3 - Benefits of Being Involved in Sport and Active Recreation (2 December 2010). In this webinar we consider the results of recent research on the benefits and constraints to participation in sport and active recreation.
- Webinar 2 - Adapting and Modifying for Individual Difference (4 November 2010). Following on from webinar 1 we now explore how the Inclusion Spectrum works in a practical sense.
- Webinar 1 - Options in Sport and Active Recreation (7 October 2010). This first webinar explored the many opportunities there are for people with disability to get involved in sport. It looked at a framework for participation – called The Inclusion Spectrum.