The social and cultural benefits of participating in sport and active recreation were reported by all disability types as being the most important benefits derived.
A number of reports recommend that matching the type of disability to the level of support needed is a critical factor influencing either participation or non-participation patterns. People with high support needs face additional constraints that serve as barriers to participation.
Individuals surveyed did not necessarily regard their impairment as the major reason for their non-participation. Non-participants across a number of disability types expressed a desire to participate, particularly as a means of social interaction; but identified other constraints such as cost, transportation, venue access, and supervision.
Nearly 75% of those currently participating would like to participate more, but also identified the same constraints as non-participants. Generally, persons with a disability would like to see better access to information about local sport and active recreation opportunities.
Cost is often seen to be a major factor in many different ways, including its effect on participants in terms of transport and equipment, and on the disability organisation in terms of registration fees and the extra costs associated with providing services.
- Enabling inclusive sport participation: Effects of disability and support needs on constraints to sport participation, Darcy S, Lock D and Taylor T, Leisure Sciences, Volume 39, Issue 1 (2017). Despite enabling legislation, studies in Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States have found that persons with disability participate in sport at lower rates than the general population. This paper presents the results of a national study examining the constraints to sport participation for people with disability. Liaising with over 100 disability organisations from across Australia; a total of 1046 surveys were completed – 53% from persons with disability and 47% from family/friends. Respondents engaged in 125 different sport and active recreation activities; with 50% of participation from organised sports, 32% from unorganised and 18% from partially organised activities. The findings showed that disability type and level of support needs explain significant variations in constraints to participation. The level of support needs was the most significant indicator of the likelihood of participation or non-participation.
- Perceived barriers and facilitators to participation in physical activity for children with disability: a qualitative study, Nora Shields & Anneliese Synnot, BMC Pediatrics, (published online 19 January 2016). Children with disability engage in less physical activity compared to their typically developing peers. The aim of this research was to explore the barriers and facilitators to participation in physical activity for this group. Four themes were identified: (1) similarities and differences, (2) people make the difference, (3) one size does not fit all, and (4) communication and connections. Children with disability were thought to face additional barriers to participation compared to children with typical development including a lack of instructor skills and unwillingness to be inclusive, negative societal attitudes towards disability, and a lack of local opportunities.
- Participation and non-participation of people with disability in sport and active recreation, Australian Sports Commission/University of Technology, Sydney (2011). This report presents the findings of a collaborative research project that used a combination of surveys and focus group interactions to collect data. The study looked at perceptions of health, fitness, and general wellbeing benefits received through sports participation. Disability groups included persons having physical, sensory, intellectual, psychiatric, and health related disabilities. A number of key findings from this research are presented in the report.
Australian observations support a large collection of international research identifying factors that present barriers to participation. Generally, the research suggests that when barriers are reduced persons with a disability, who are able to engage in sports, are much more likely to experience improved health and better social connectivity with their community than those not engaged.
- Barriers to and facilitators of sports participation for people with physical disabilities: A systematic review, Jaarsma E, Dijkstra P, Geertzen J and Dekker R, Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sport, Volume 24, Issue 6 (2014). Too few people with physical disabilities regularly participate in sports. Therefore, understanding what presents a barrier to participation, as well as what factors facilitate participation, should be helpful to program planners. This study provides an overview of the literature focusing on barriers to, and facilitators of, sports participation for people with various physical disabilities. The most common barrier was health status (personal factor); and lack of facilities, transportation, accessibility of facilities (environmental factors). Facilitating factors were fun, improved health and social contacts. Experiencing barriers to, and facilitators of, sports participation was dependent on age and type of disability. Regular sports participation was greatest when the selection of the sport was appropriate.
- Overcoming barriers to participation, British Blind Sport (2015). Sport and recreational activities can enhance the lives of people with visual impairments by improving their health and increasing social interaction. British Blind Sport conducted a survey to understand how blind and partially sighted people overcome barriers to participation in sport, and to understand the motivations of visually impaired people for taking up sport. Telephone interviews and focus groups were used to collect data. This report identifies a number of motivations as well as barriers. Practical solutions are offered to help visually impaired persons, and organisations providing services to them, overcome the barriers. Case studies are also provided.