New studies by the Activity Alliance have revealed something new on the non-disabled individual’s attitudes to inclusive activity with the disabled. Even though the results have shown signs of improvement, ingrained perceptions are still creating obstacles to changing the reality of disability, sport and inclusion.
The non-disabled individual’s perception was the result of a survey conducted online and over 2000 non-disabled people participated. The study examined the respondent’s perceptions as well as experiences, by focusing more on the aspect of inclusive activity in which both non-disabled and disabled individuals take part together. Such activities are encouraged by schools for the disabled and other organisations.
The findings presented a varied picture, showing that the perceptions of people who are not disabled might be preventing them from participating in this mixed setting.
The Opportunity to Alter These Perceptions via Sports
The results of the study show positive change in that perceptions can be altered via sporting activities. Over 70% of the non-disabled people who participated said they were open to the idea of participating in active recreation or sport with disabled individuals. Non-disabled individuals recognised the positive impact that participating in inclusive tasks would have on themselves. The top benefits mentioned were that they could feel more comfortable around disabled individuals, they could meet new groups of individuals and even learn more about disabled people.
About a quarter of the participants associated disabled individuals with being equal to those who are not disabled. This could have been potentially driven by awareness of the discrimination that disabled individuals have to deal with. The respondents believed individuals with mental health issues, learning disabilities, physical impairments and behavioural conditions to be the groups of people receiving the strongest prejudice in the United Kingdom today.
However, they did not show equal concern for the negative impact that participating in inclusive activities may have on those who are disabled. The non-disabled top concerns were that the disabled might get hurt, the non-disabled individuals might patronise the disabled or even say something inappropriate.
The results showed that the language utilised by providers in promoting inclusive activities was inconsistent. About 67% of the non-disabled individuals had no prior knowledge of what the phrase inclusive sport means. However, over 74% of them were aware that an inclusive sport is for everybody.
Lack of Experience with Disabled Individuals
Inexperience, unfamiliarity with the disabled as well as general lack of awareness was evident in the study results. Disabled individuals are a substantial proportion of our community, 1 in 5 people. However, just 14% of the non-disabled individuals knew that they were participating in physical activity or inclusive sport with disabled individuals. Out of all the non-disabled individuals, only half (50%) said they knew someone who is disabled.
This report adds to the growing portfolio of Activity Alliance’s research and insight that explores obstacles facing disabled individuals as well as non-disabled individuals’ perceptions regarding being active.
The Gap between Reality and Ambition
In the report, the results showed an apparent mismatch between how disabled individuals prefer to be active and the availability of those opportunities. Here, over 60% of disabled individuals who participated in the survey said that they preferred taking part in a sport with a mix of both disabled and non-disabled individuals. However, only 51% of them currently did so.
The Motivate Me report ideally echoed this mixed-setting preference. The results show that there is a huge number of disabled individuals who are more likely to get involved in opportunities that help them tap into things that matter the most to them. This includes making new friends, becoming more independent, progressing in life and maintaining health.
The Activity Alliance Chief Executive, Barry Horne said that in order to increase the numbers of active disabled individuals, there not only needs to be meaningful activities, but we also need to respond to demand. While it is true that not every disabled individual has an interest in engaging in inclusive activities, the insight shows that most of them want to be active with their family members and friends. As such, there needs to be an improvement in the way activities are marketed.