Wheelchair users call for sport providers to offer more local accessible opportunities
There is a clear need for sports providers to offer more local sport and physical activity opportunities, which are accessible for wheelchair users, new research reveals.
The findings in a new report by WheelPower - British Wheelchair Sport, aims to support providers and sports bodies in planning and delivering their activities better, to meet the needs of wheelchair users.
WheelPower, the national charity for wheelchair sport carried out a national survey into wheelchair users’ participation in sport and physical activity. The report titled Talk About Taking Part, includes responses from both wheelchair users who lead an active lifestyle and those who don’t currently take part in any form of sport or physical activity.
The report highlights:
- A lack of suitable opportunities (44 per cent of respondents) and lack of accessible venues (39 per cent) were identified as the top two barriers that can prevent wheelchair users from taking part in sport and physical activity.
- The cost of specialist equipment often needed by wheelchair users to take part in sport also continues to be a significant barrier.
- More than seven in ten (74 per cent) wheelchair users surveyed said they would like to be more active in the future.
- Just over half of survey respondents (54 per cent) travel for more than 30 minutes to take part in some form of sport or physical activity.
- Survey respondents (29 per cent) also highlighted that travelling distance can be a barrier to being more active – indicating a clear need for more local provision of suitable sporting opportunities for wheelchair users.
The report also highlights key survey findings about current participation trends, motivations and barriers to being active, as well as the sports and activities wheelchair users currently take part in, and what they would like to do more of in the future. Organisations such as national governing bodies of sport, county sports partnerships, and local sports providers should particularly benefit from these findings to support them to improve their activity offers for wheelchair users.
There are also two supplementary documents to accompany the survey report:
1. Talk About Taking Part - Survey Data Tables
The survey report above highlights the key findings from the survey. This Data Tables document details the 32 questions we asked in the survey and enables you to break down the responses by different variables such as:
- Age segments
- Manual or non-manual wheelchair user
- Current sports participant or non-sport participant
- Acquired or congenital impairment/condition
- Club member or non-club member.
2. Talk About Taking Part - Case Studies
We carried out in-depth interviews with ten survey respondents which provided personal stories and effectively served to bring the research alive.
Kevan Baker ODBE, Chairman of WheelPower said:
“The Talk About Taking Part survey results reinforce the importance of WheelPower’s work and the need for them to create a far-reaching and positive influence throughout the disability sector. The report paints a compelling picture of the challenges faced by wheelchair users - their voices can no longer be ignored, and there can be no excuses for inaction.
“It is great news that wheelchair users want to be more active but it is disappointing to hear of the limited opportunities for them to take part in sport and that poor accessibility at many sports venues continues to be an obstacle for them. There is a clear need for providers to better understand the needs of wheelchair users in sport and activity.”
Chris Turner, National Sports Director at WheelPower, said:
"The report provides a number of findings which can be used to improve the provision of sport and physical activity for wheelchair users. If sporting opportunities are made more relevant and appealing, wheelchair users are more likely to take part in sport and physical activity, rather than just wishing that they could.
“WheelPower will use this insight and work with providers to develop new routes to market which are accessible and affordable for all. We will develop and increase the number of local sport and activity opportunities, pathways and events for wheelchair users and increase awareness of these opportunities. To make it easier for wheelchair users to find the right activity for them. We will also ensure there is a participation pathway with variety of entry points so that people can get involved in sport and activity at any age.”
“Sports wheelchairs cost upwards of £1,000, so it is easy to see how this can be a major barrier for disabled people. This barrier needs to be removed so that disabled people have access to essential pieces of equipment”.
“We will encourage and support wheelchair users to be active where they want, in activities they want to do and with those they want to be active with.”