Attracting and supporting disabled participants

With 11.5 million disabled people in England, accounting for one in five (21%) of the total population (i DWP Family Resource Survey 2019-2020) there is a huge opportunity for disabled people to be attracted, welcomed and supported into athletics and running.  

Disability has a broad legal definition in the UK:  

“A physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities” (Equality Act 2010)  

 The term covers a wide range of impairments and health conditions. They can be physical such as a spinal cord injury or amputation, learning difficulties, mental health problems, sensory problems such as sight or hearing loss, social or behavioural issues, neurodiversity and long-term health conditions such as diabetes or asthma. These are just some examples, there are many more. 

The Facts

  • Disabled adults are almost twice as likely as non-disabled people to be physically inactive (43% vs 23%) , yet four in five (78%) disabled people would like to be more active .  
  • Psychological barriers play the biggest role in preventing disabled people from taking part in sport. Their perception of their own abilities matters as well as the opinion of others when it comes to whether the activity suits them. 
  • Six in ten disabled people say that either not knowing about opportunities or a lack of available activities is what prevents them from taking part. 
  • Small changes can have a big impact on disabled people joining your club or group. This can improve the experience for everyone, not just disabled people. 

Key Ideas

  • Provide information about your club that everyone can access. Using accessible formats such as word verions or subtitled videos on social media or in printed materials can make information easy for everyone to access and understand.

  • Know your audience. Ask for relevant information on membership forms. This will better capture information about whether participants have an impairment or long term health conditions so you can provide the relevant support to them.

  • Include disabled people in your promotional imagery. This could be on your website or in posters or printed material.

  • Take positive action. If disabled arent taking part, consider any positive action you can take to remove barriers and provide better opportunities for them to participate.

  • Connect with your community. Find out what community groups or services are in your area that support disabled people and create partnership with them.

  • Consider ways to make your facilities and activities as accessible as possible. Share as much information as you can so disabled people can determine if your facilities and activities will be suitable for them or not. For example, why not put a video on your website of what the facility looks like and the journey by car or public transport? Consider including information about toliets and changing areas too.

  • Provide information about public transport. This is useful for everyone, but particularly for disbaled people who often use public transport more. Consider organising a meet and greet service from public transport to your venue.

  • Adopt an inclusion policy. Makes a clear commitment to inclusion.Take a zero-tolerance approach to discrimination supported by appropriate training and clear codes of conduct.


Yes No
Do you capture information about disability or long-term health conditions as part of your membership form or recruitment process for volunteers?
Great. This will help you to provide the appropriate support for everyone as well as monitor representation from disabled people across different roles within the club.
Ask for relevant information on membership forms to better capture information about whether participants are disabled or have a long-term health condition. This will help you to provide appropriate support.
Have your club coaches and volunteers had training to improve their knowledge and confidence around disability?
Great. Check out the other resources and collections in ClubHub to keep learning!
All club coaches and volunteers should have some understanding of disability and how to adapt activity to make sure everyone can take part.  Training can improve knowledge, develop confidence and ability to support disabled members. This will create a more positive experience for everyone.
Does your club have any links with local community groups and services?
Great, those groups will be great at providing expert advice on how to create a welcoming and inclusive environment and adapt activity accordingly.
Think about who is not represented in your club and which community groups may be able to support you. Perhaps a local sight loss charity, wheelchair services, local Mind or limb loss centre?
Do you provide information in accessible formats?
Great! Providing accessible information improves the experience for everyone, not just disabled people.
Consider ways you can make information easier for everyone to access. Whether that’s using larger font, changing the colour contrast or writing in Plain English. Small changes can make a big difference.
Does your club have an inclusion policy?
● Yes Great. Hopefully everyone is aware of the policy and it’s reinforced through actions and behaviours.
An inclusion policy will help create a welcoming culture at your club for all. Why not use the template Inclusion Policy to create one?

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