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Sport and disability

People with disabilities have the right to access sport
Wheelchair basketball

Sport can play a role in improving the health and wellbeing of people with disabilities and challenging discrimination, including providing greater access and opportunities.

According to the World Health Organization, 1 billion people – 15% of the global population – live with disabilities. This is the biggest minority group in the world, with 80% in developing countries. Challenges they often face include accessibility, stigma and a lack of supportive legislation – only 45 countries have laws protecting people with disabilities from discrimination.

The role of sport

Sport can change perceptions by highlighting skills and enabling people with and without disabilities to interact with each other. It can improve mental health and support people with disabilities in developing their self-esteem and skills that are useful for employment. Sports facilities, playing spaces and activities should be designed to ensure access for people with disabilities and attention should start at the policy level.

Again, we must remember that sport does not automatically have a positive impact on people with disabilities.

Sport activities have often reinforced stigma. The way activities and institutions are organised and led is crucial. Progress has been made, but there is a long way to go to ensure equal access and opportunities for people with physical and intellectual disabilities.

Learn more about sport and disability here

See our recent call for articles on including persons with disabilities in sport – 94 articles received from contributors across the globe!

Further Resources

Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Sport in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Disability and Sports

Sports for Inclusive Development and Empowerment of persons with disabilities

Inclusion in sport: disability and participation

Sport and disability: Policy, practice and future priorities

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Sport for Sustainable Development: Designing Effective Policies and Programmes

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