New research released by Activity Alliance highlights a demand for greater training in delivering activities to disabled people. The report indicates a need for more direct, practical guidance on adapting sports. The findings show building the confidence and skills of those who deliver sports sessions can lead to more opportunities for disabled people to be active.
‘Delivering activity to disabled people: The workforce perception gap’, explores perceptions among people who deliver sports sessions, from coaches, instructors and teachers to volunteers and community sports leaders. In particular, it looks at their experiences and perceptions of delivering to disabled people and inclusive activity – in which disabled and non-disabled people take part together.
Activity Alliance, with support from Sport England, commissioned this project. It follows a number of studies by the national charity to examine perceptions among those with an influence on disabled people’s activity. The two-stage qualitative and quantitative study was undertaken by 2CV Research.
Key findings included:
- There are low levels of awareness and experience of delivering to disabled people among sports deliverers. Only one in four (23%) people surveyed via a national panel have knowingly delivered activity sessions to disabled people.
- A lack of experience leads to low levels of confidence and interest in delivering to disabled people. Three in five (60%) people with experience said they would feel confident in doing so, compared with a quarter (24%) of those without experience.
- Awareness of the term ‘inclusive activities’ is inconsistent and often does not include disabled people. Three in five (59%) of those without experience said they had run inclusive sessions, highlighting confusion around the term.
- More than half (52%) of sports deliverers who were not currently interested in delivering inclusive sessions said they would be much more interested if relevant training was available. They want both general information on the spectrum of impairments and practical guidance on adapting sports.
The report identified a number of important areas for organisations to act on to ensure sports deliverers feel confident and competent to provide meaningful opportunities for disabled people.
The recommendations include:
- Work towards inclusive sport being second nature. Make inclusive activity the default and ensure positive representation of disabled people being active.
- Provide tips, tools and training options to build comfort and confidence among your workforce.
- Provide hands-on training and practical advice on how to create inclusive sport and activity environments, organisations and opportunities, including adapting sport.
Barry Horne, Activity Alliance Chief Executive, said:
“To create more opportunities, those who deliver sports sessions on the ground must feel both competent and confident in providing for disabled people. This report shows that there are still significant improvements to be made and organisations must act to ensure inclusive activity is the default, not an optional extra.
“Whilst these recommendations are challenging, they are achievable. Activity Alliance is on hand to support organisations and the sector more broadly to support disabled people to be and stay active for life.
“Our Inclusive Activity Programme provides practical training opportunities for coaches, local community activators and healthcare professionals so they can engage disabled people and people with long-term health conditions more effectively in activities.”
UK Coaching’s Director of Coaching, Emma Atkins, said:
“The report clearly states that significant work still needs to be done. We agree with Activity Alliance that as an industry we need to make sport and physical activity pathways inclusive for all participants and coaches.
“Coaching is about helping and inspiring all people to achieve their goals and more practical advice and training for coaches is key to addressing this imbalance. Our work with Activity Alliance, and other partners, on the Inclusive Activity Programme is evidence of our investment in inclusive coaching; ongoing coach learning and development, and fulfilling the report’s recommendations.”
Mike Diaper, Sport England Executive Director of Children and Young People, said:
“Sport and physical activity should be for everyone – people who are less active are missing out on all the physical and mental benefits that activity can have. Today’s new report shows just how much needs to be done to provide the right support to disabled people to access these benefits.
“Sports professionals, volunteers and organisations who deliver sport and physical activity play a critical role in making disabled people feel comfortable, included and able to challenge themselves. That’s why we are providing National Lottery funding for the Inclusive Activity Programme, run by Activity Alliance, which is training individuals so they can offer disabled people strong support and help build their confidence about getting active.”
- The Executive Summary and full research report are available to download here
- Use #InclusiveActivity to join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.