“It’s something that I can get involved in and feel ‘normal’ as everyone is there for the one thing.”
“I love the competition and pushing the human body as much as possible.”
Watching sport is important to many young disabled people but a new report by Muscular Dystrophy UK’s Trailblazers has found that disabled people often face a far inferior experience to their non-disabled counterparts.
Disabled households have a spending power of a staggering £212 billion but fans are being shut-out and put off from sports venues across the UK.
Trailblazers’ new report Move the Goal Posts uncovered that young disabled people have immense difficulty booking tickets, are faced with socially isolating seating positions and poor accessible facilities including a lack of suitable toilets.
“Other than for the Olympics and the Rugby World Cup, obtaining wheelchair space tickets to try and watch a live game has been near impossible for tennis, football and rugby.”
“I’ve had to give up tickets before because of bad seating placements.”
“The fact that I am limited to sitting with one companion means that I am unable to enjoy live sporting events with a group of friends. This type of policy makes the assumption that people with disabilities only ever have one person with them and that person is a carer.”
Trailblazers are calling for:
- Accessibility to be placed at the heart of all future venue design and renovation.
- The establishment of a sports fan access group to regularly to discuss necessary changes
- Wheelchair users to have the choice of sitting in larger groups, instead of pairs.
- Venues to liaise with disability groups including Trailblazers to discussing improving the experience of disabled sports fans.
- Venues to improve accessible toilets and boost the number of disabled parking spaces.
Trailblazers Project Manager, Tanvi Vyas, said: “It is disappointing that four years after the big promises of a Paralympic legacy, so many disabled people are clearly frustrated, limited and let down by their sporting experience. That they feel shut-out from events they love due to venue layout and accessibility is a national disgrace.
“If venues recognised not only the passion of disabled sports fans, but the two hundred billion spending power of disabled households, then everyone would gain from better inclusion. We urge the sports industry to put accessibility at the heart of stadium design and renovation, and to engage with charities like ours so every sports fan, regardless of disability, can follow their passion.
“At Trailblazers we believe sport is for everyone, whether that be watching or participating. Our report shows disappointing progress and we know so much more can be done improve disabled peoples’ access to sports venues. We’re committed to working with other disability charities, organisations and sports venues to make this happen.”
By the Trailblazers team
Trailblazers is a national network of 700 young disabled people and their supporters, and is part of Muscular Dystrophy UK.