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The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) defines a disabled person as someone who has a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. (DDA, 2005). Access and inclusion into sport and physical activity is difficult for many people with a disabiltiy therefor changes must be made to ensure that every person wishing to take part can do so. This could be changing the facilities so that access is better for disabled people as well as modifying equipment and training programs so that everybody can access the facilities. There are many schemes in place to help give disabled people the opportunity to participate in sporting activities such as the Federation of Disability Sport Wales (FDSW) which is a pan-disability National Governing Body of Sport which aims to promote and develop quality sports opportunities (Disability Sports Wales, 2004). Although increased effort has been put into studies connecting disability with physical activity, problems remain.
The majority of young disabled people express a preference for participating in a sporting environment if it was organised within a disability sports. (EFDS, 2005). Sports for the disabled still remain an understudied area and should be improved greatly if it is to develop. A development for disability in sport is needed because there are people who cannot participate in sport because of reasons beyond their own control. For most disabled people, their disability is not the barrier and therefore more should be done to overcome barriers that could be easily eradicated (Barton, 1989).
A physically active lifestyle is associated with many health and social benefits. This is also true for those individuals who have a disability or long term health condition. Physical activity can not only reduce the risk for secondary health problems but can improve all levels of functioning (Hidde et al. 2004).
The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) defines a disabled person as someone who has a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on his or her ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. (DDA, 2005)
For people with a disability, accessing sporting activities can be difficult as there may not be many facilities to provide for them. Also the sports that they are able to access may not be suitable for them to be included therefore adaptations must be made to the sports to give them the opportunity to participate (Jette, 2003). This should include participation with able bodied participants also. There are schemes which run to organize safe and enjoyable sporting activities for disable people, as well as schemes that look to give access, inclusion and participation in sport for disabled and able bodied people alike (Finch et al, 2001).
The Federation of Disability Sport Wales (FDSW) is a pan-disability National Governing Body of Sport which aims to promote and develop quality sports opportunities (Disability Sports Wales, 2004). This scheme is set in Wales but there are other schemes that work towards promoting and developing disability sport throughout the UK.
This report will look at disability in sport. The main issues that will be looked at are access to take part in sports as well as the inclusion for disability in the sports. With these factors being identified, participation levels for disability in sport will be examined to see what areas of the UK are working towards giving equal opportunities for disabled children and adults. The project will study the schemes and look at how they help to allow access and inclusion to the sports and also the participation levels of disablity in sport.
Rimmer et al, (2006) reported that an investigation was carried out into the accessibility of health clubs for persons with mobility disabilities and visual impairments. Thirty-five health clubs and fitness facilities were tested in a national field trial using a new instrument. The Accessibility Instruments Measuring Fitness and Recreation Environments (AIMFREE), was used for measuring the accessibility of fitness facilities in the built environment, equipment, swimming pools, information, facility policies, and professional behaviour. All facilities demonstrated low to moderate levels of accessibility. While some of the deficiencies showed cause for concern with Disabilities Act guidelines regarding the built environment, others were related to aspects of the facilities' equipment, information, policies, and professional staff (Davies, 2002).
Although increased effort has been put into studies connecting disability with physical activity, problems remain (Fitzgerald, 2008). Hezkiah (2005) stated that when compared to adolescents without disabilities, adolescents with intellectual disability demonstrate low levels of physical fitness and perceptual motor difficulties, which affect their ability to learn. Major barriers include language conception, crucial for following instructions, and physical disabilities, which affect their abilities to perform motor skills (Gatward and Burrell, 2002; Gordon and Williams, 2003). These limitations affect their motivation and contribute to limited opportunities for regular participation in movement, physical activity and sports, which in turn affect their ability to develop and improve in these important areas of growth and development.
Finch et al (2001) set out to determine how significant barriers existing disability is to people's levels of physical activity. To find the information the participants were asked for a variety of information, and then asked to indicate which physical activities they participate in. The subjects were asked to identify the reasons inhibiting their participation in physical activities. No clear inclusion or exclusion information was provided therefore the reasons would be their own personal feelings.
Findings showed that A total of 20% of the sample identified current injury or disability as one of the barriers to more physical activity, with half of those respondents then citing it as the main reason as to why they do not participate more in physical activities.
Older people rated current injury or disability as a barrier to physical activity more often than younger participants did. People who are obese based on their body mass index (BMI) said that injury or disability was a barrier to physical activity more often than those who were underweight or normal weight.
Another finding was that people who were not physically active said that current injury or disability inhibited their current physical activity level more often than people with a high current physical activity level did.
They suggested the importance to target the promotion of physical activity to older adults and overweight people specifically to get them active by giving them access to facilities along with the inclusion to the activities. They go on to identify the problems that can occur with disability. They state that a person would stop exercising because of a disability rather than just becoming overweight and not exercise because of the weight problem.
Rimmer et al (2004) identified various barriers and facilitators associated with participation in fitness and recreation programs and facilities among persons with disabilities. The results showed that the participants reported 178 barriers and 130 facilitators. The problems identified were barriers and facilitators related to the built and natural environment along with economic issues. Emotional and psychological barriers were also identified as a problem. The degree of participation in physical activity among people with disabilities is affected by a multi-factorial set of barriers and facilitators. Future research could utilize information conducted by Rimmer et al (2004) to develop participation strategies that have a greater likelihood of success.
A report from the EFDS, (2005) showed that whilst young disabled people valued sport and recreation opportunities, studies have shown that they do not access opportunities on a regular basis. Disability is not a barrier to taking part in sport and recreation. Despite growing policy and legislation promoting increased participation in sports and physical recreation by young disabled people, only a limited number of young disabled people do participate. Few young disabled people have access to sport and physical activity opportunities outside the activities offered within curricular time including, after-school clubs, community opportunities, and general play.
The most significant factor that was found to affect participation was the person's impairment, with those with multiple impairments less likely to participate than those with a single impairment were (Maloney et al, 1993)
The most common curriculum sports across impairment groups and genders were Swimming, Boccia, Ball Games, Football, Athletics, and Cricket. In community settings Play, Swimming, Football, Badminton, and theme parks were the most frequent sports and activities participated in. Activities such as Swimming, Boccia, Athletics and Horse Ridding had a particularly important role for those young disabled people with multiple impairments. Barriers to participation included access to facilities and equipment. Improvements in facilities and access to equipment would improve access to sports and recreation opportunities (Williams, 2005)
The majority of young disabled people express a preference for participating in a 'sporting environment' especially if it was organised within a disability sports club with other people with similar impairments or an after-school club with friends. With regard to the type of activity, young disabled people would like to participate in the results reflected many of the activities young disabled people already participating in (EFDS, 2005).
There are many initiatives set up to give people with a disability an opportunity to participate in sport and physical actvity (Norwich, 2007).
The Inclusive Fitness Initiative (IFI) is a programme that supports the fitness industry to become more inclusive, catering for the needs of disabled and non-disabled people alike. Through a range of projects, the initiative has supported facilities across England to create an inclusive service, increasing participation by disabled people.
Parasport is a joint initiative between the British Paralympic Association (BPA) and the services firm Deloitte. The aim is to increase participation levels in competitive sporting events. Parasport will improve how talented sports people are identified and supported at community level. As part of the project, it is planned to provide individual bursaries to talented and high-potential athletes through a partnership with SportsAid, and to establish a new Disability Sports Institute known as Parasport, run by the BPA. While the BPA is the body responsible for the 'elite' end of disability sport, the Parasport project is open to all abilities.
Another initiative in place is the The Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS) that operates in England and helps talented young athletes committed to combining their sport and education. There are currently 50 sports that are eligible for TASS, of which 16 are disability sports. The scheme is open to people aged between 16 and 25, with an upper age limit of 35 for disabled people. The scheme provides a package of sporting services to athletes and access to good quality training facilities.Â
An athletics initiative has been launched in by the Sports Council Wales to encourage more children with disabilities to take part in sport. In conjunction with the Federation of Disability Sport Wales athletics sessions have been introduced where children can take part in fun sessions with trained volunteers from Welsh Athletics. The Disability Sport Wales National Community Development Programme is a joint initiative between the Sports Council for Wales, the Federation of Disability Sport Wales and the 22 local authorities across Wales. The scheme is aimed at developing quality community based sporting and recreational opportunities for disabled people throughout Wales (Hughes, 2009)
Arthur and Finch (1999) said that people with a disability might recognise the physical and social benefits resulting from participating in physical activity generally. However, a failure to recognise specific guidelines on the necessary frequency and extent of physical activity in order to achieve such benefits, particularly amongst older people, contributes to low participation levels.
External barriers resulting in a lack of opportunity to participate in physical activity among people with a disability have been widely discussed in literature (Arthur and Finch, 1999;; Doll-Tepper, 1999; DePauw and Gavron, 2005). Research has shown a range of issues, which include a lack of confidence. With the opportunity to participate, the confidence would grow and give the people a chance to be active.
A Lack of physical and emotional support was also a factor that caused people with a disability not to take part in sport and physical activity. Not having someone to go with to the gym or sporting facility is another barrier (DePauw and Gavron, 2005). According to Arthur and Finch (1999), this poses a greater problem for those people with a disability who need some kind of physical, oral or visual assistance or moral support.
Lack of information was a big factor in reasons to why they did not participate in sport. Arthur and Finch (1999) found that a lack of information held by people with a disability led to low awareness of the sorts of possible sporting activities and appropriate sport facilities. According to the English Federation of disability sport (2000), the lack of access to information has worsened.
Lockwood and Lockwood (1997) and Doll-Tepper (1999) both said that the subsistence of poorly trained service providers, unsuitable activities and inflexible programmes as areas of particular concern. Both Arthur and Finch (1999) and DePauw and Gavron (1995) raise the issue of a lack of available facilities and say that the blame for this is due to cuts in funding. Arthur and Finch (1999) found that poor physical access at existing facilities could present a barrier to the participation of people with a disability in sporting activities, in terms of the inappropriate design of buildings, lack of aids and adaptations to equipment.
Negative attitudes towards disability include those of other facility users. DePauw and Gavron (1995) found that college students held negative and stereotypical attitudes towards the inclusion of individuals with a disability in physical education and sport. Arthur and Finch (1999) found a correlation between the negative and conventional attitudes of other sport centre users. This then produced a lack of confidence and motivation for people with a disability.
National statistics show the lowest participation rates for disabled people. They produced a Taking part and active people survey which showed that 8.8 - 9.5% disabled adults participated in regular moderate activity (Sport England, 2006; DCMS, 2007). It also found that 44% of disabled young people did not take part in regular physical activity (Sport England, 2001)
Research has shown that disabled young people do participate in sport both in and out of school (Finch et al, 2001). However, both the overall rate of participation and the frequency with which disabled young people take part in sport is lower than for young people in general.
There are also important differences between participation in school compared with out of school participation. In school young disabled people participated in sport more frequently than they did out of school. However, this pattern was the reverse for all young people (Corneliben and Pfeifer, 2007)
An initiative set up in Ireland is called "Disability Sport Donegal". This scheme aims to give children an opportunity to participate in sporting activities. They aim to offer a wide range of activities that include Boccia and martial arts. They develop the programme for inclusion into sports for disabled people. They also look to form a relationship with local schools to include children in sporting activities. With the inclusion within schools they can then develop programmes out side of school and give opportunities to disabled children and adults to take part in sports clubs that provide the safe, fun environment and facilities that are needed to give a wider range of activities to disabled people (Donegal Sports 2007)
Research has shown that many people with a disability do not take part in sport because they don't have access to the facilities or equipment they needed (Paciorek and Jones, 2001). In addition travel was shown to be a barrier as they were unable to get to and from any accessible venues. Lack of information was a problem for the many of the participants and parents because they were unaware of facilities or clubs offering activities for disability. Organisations were identified during the questioning, including Viva project and RCT Tigers. Viva is a registered Charity that was established in November 1992 to work with young people with a disability aged between 11 and 25 with who live in Rhondda Cynon Taff. The ethos of Viva is to enable and support all of its youth members to become fully involved in community activities. Viva believes this encourages young people to develop greater independence and make more choices for themselves. The aim of Viva is to challenge members to raise their aspirations while they broaden their experiences and abilities. They try to encourage the members to develop greater independence and make more informed choices for themselves. At the same time they expect to raise community awareness in accepting disabled young people as valued citizens (Sports Council Wales, 2006)
Viva's goal is the creation of equal and valued relationships between disabled young people and their non-disabled peers. They look for participation of disabled young people in existing community facilities, which they may have been traditionally excluded from because of the stigma and isolation often associated with disability. They believe that by giving young people the same opportunities as their peers, people can learn and work together to meet the challenges that life offers.
RCT Tigers FC is a pan disability football club for young children in the Rhondda Cynon Taff Area which was set up in January 2008. It was founded to improve opportunities for disability sports in Rhondda Cynon Taff.
With these organisations set up it is important that extra work is conducted to make them successful. It is imperative because without these organisations people with a disability would not be able to take part in any sport or physical activity. It is also important to develop new initiatives as well as making the existing organisations more accessible by better information and promotion.
With the development of initiatives, disability in sport can develop and give opportunity to people where participation would be difficult and inaccessible (Yuen et al, 2007).
In conclusion Physical activity and sports participation enhances disabled children's health and well-being. Regular exercise and participation in sports by these children is as important as it is for their able-bodied counterparts. Professionals working with children with disabilities should actively promote participation in sports and recreation activities. Prior to participation, children with disabilities should be evaluated by a physician who has understanding of childhood disabilities to identify sports commensurate with their abilities.
The relationship of sports for the disabled is difficult. Sports are a rehabilitating tool for integration into society and a way for them to remain active. In addition, sports and disability as portrayed by the media often still broadcast existing stereotypes that erect social barriers for the disabled, in the area of social perception (Barton, 2001)
Sports for the disabled still remain an understudied area and should be improved greatly if it is to develop. A development for disability in sport is needed because there are people who cannot participate in sport because of reasons beyond their own control. For most disabled people, their disability is not the barrier and therefore more should be done to overcome barriers that could be easily eradicated (Barton, 1989)