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Wheelchair users want better sports access

What stops wheelchair users from getting active?

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 from Rica (now RiDC) reveals.

The findings (published on 19 October, 2016) in a report carried out for WheelPower - British Wheelchair Sport, aim to support providers and sports bodies in planning and delivering their activities to better meet the needs of wheelchair users.

WheelPower, the national charity for wheelchair sport, commissioned Rica to carry out a national survey into wheelchair users’ participation in sport and physical activity. The report, 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 was the top barrier for wheelchair users (44 per cent of respondents).
  • Too few accessible venues came a close second (39 per cent).
  • The cost of specialist equipment often needed by wheelchair users to take part in sport is also a significant barrier.
  • Nearly three quarters (74 per cent) 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 sport or physical activity. 
  • Travelling distance can be a barrier for nearly a third (29 per cent), which shows a clear need for more local provision of suitable sporting opportunities.  

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.

Kevan Baker OBE, WheelPower Chairman, 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.”

Download the Talk About Taking Part report.

Download the Talk About Taking Part data tables.

Download the Talk About Taking Part case studies.

WheelPower is the national charity for wheelchair sport and aims to provide, promote and develop opportunities for disabled people to participate in sport and physical activity and lead healthy active lives.

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