The use of public sports facilities by the disabled in England

Article English OPEN
Kung, Shia Ping ; Taylor, Peter (2014)

<p>Disabled sports participants are a small proportion of sports participants at English public sports centres; but they are important to the social inclusion agenda. This paper aims to provide a detailed insight into the preferences and behaviour of disabled sports participants.</p>\ud <p>It investigated whether there were statistical differences: first, between the disabled sports participants and the non-disabled sports participants in terms of (1) social demographics, (2) patterns of participation, (3) travel, (4) sports activities and (5) customer satisfaction; and second, between age, ethnic, socio-economic and gender groups of their subsamples, on (2), (4) and (5) again. Disability is defined as having any long term illness or health problem which limits a person's daily activities or the work that a person can do. The data collected through the National Benchmarking Service, for 458 sports centres from 2005 to 2011, revealed that about 9% of over 150,000 sports participants were disabled. Swimming, using fitness equipment and keep fit related exercises were the top three most frequently stated main sports activities by the disabled. It was also more likely for the disabled to participate in organised activities, own a leisure card and participate regularly when compared with the non-disabled participants. In addition, the disabled were also more likely than the non-disabled to travel to the centre by public transport, from home and travel a longer journey time. The industry weaknesses as identified by the disabled relate to physical evidence of the sports centres, particularly cleanliness attributes. Measures that can be taken to increase sports participation by the disabled include competent support at sports centres, promotions through discount schemes or leisure cards, and free transportation to sport centres in catchment areas with high proportions of disabled in their population.</p>
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