Activity Alliance Annual Disability and Activity Survey Findings Released July 2022

Now in its third year, The Activity Alliance Annual Disability and Activity Survey continues to track disabled people’s perceptions and experience of sport and activity. Activity Alliance’s annual survey complements Sport England’s Active Lives Adult Survey. It provides greater detail on issues of importance to disabled people in sport and activity.

Last year, it showed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on disabled people’s lives and their ability to be active. This year’s survey gives an indication of the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead as we recover and reinvent from the pandemic.

Evidence from 2020-21 survey shows disabled people’s lives have been the hardest hit by COVID-19. Insight shows how the pandemic has not only widened existing inequalities for disabled people but created new ones too.

Key findings:

    • Less than 3 in 10 disabled people feel encouraged to return to physical activity after the pandemic.
    • The pandemic has led to the support disabled people need to be active being less available, and an increase in barriers relating to health and finances.
    • Only 4 in 10 disabled people feel they can be as active as they want, in contrast to non-disabled people who are now more likely to say they can be as active as they want (62% to 69%).
    • There is a clear sense of disconnect with how disabled people actually feel, with less than half (47%) thinking that physical activity and exercise is for ‘someone like them’. This is a significant decline from 57% in 2020 and when compared to 72% of non-disabled people believing activity is for them.
    • Disabled people are being left out as we return to activity and feeling less encouraged to be active. This is despite 8 in 10 wanting to be more so (compared to 51% of non-disabled people).
    • For those disabled people taking part in activity, they are having less positive and inclusive experiences since the pandemic. They are less likely than last year to feel activity leaders met their needs and included them and less likely than non-disabled people to say returning to activity was a positive experience (52% vs 70%).
    • There is a strong feeling among disabled people that the workforce at many levels doesn’t understand disability and that spaces still aren’t accessible.
    • 78% of disabled people say their impairment or condition stops them being active, often related to low awareness of suitable activities and fears about safety and risk.

Living Sport Partnerships Manager and disabled people lead, Rebecca Evans commented:

“While some the results are showing a small amount of recover to pre pandemic levels, it is worrying to see the slow pace of return to activity for disabled people. The data provided in the survey is unfortunately similar what we are also finding in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, as we are collaborating with partners to produce the first ever county wide disability physical activity strategy. We are committed to making sure that in our county disabled people can participate in sport and physical activity that suits them, and that anyone does not face barriers placed by society due to their impairments.”

To download the Activity Alliance full report or executive summary visit the Activity Alliance website

To listen a 12-min presentation on the findings and recommendations and some sound bites from disabled people or access the videos in BSL see Youtube

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