Dr.McPherson and Dr. Calin take on more research to understand the experiences of people with disabilities

August 30, 2021

We are very excited to see members of the Project Echo team taking on more research to better understand the experiences of people with disabilities when it comes to accessing and participating in sport and physical disability. Great work Dr. Gayle McPherson and Dr. Liz Calin

In an article from the University of West of Scotland, Dr. McPherson comments: "The lack of access, despite a very good plan pre- and post-Commonwealth Games (in 2014), remains an issue. The money put into Scottish Disability Sport (SDS) before the Games allowed them to employ 10 regional managers, and it allowed the training of a thousand PE teachers.

"We didn’t have an inclusive policy so, to be fair to SDS and the Scottish Government, a huge investment went in pre-Commonwealth Games. And Red Star Athletics Club, for instance, is there for athletes with disabilities and they do great work.

"You then get into whether it should be more inclusive, with more clubs welcoming athletes with disabilities, but there are waiting lists for these athletics clubs even for able-bodied children, and many don’t have the technology, the funding and are run by volunteers. So it’s not easy.

"There has been a general change in attitudes but it only goes so far. It’s all very well us all saying it’s a good thing that people with a disability are able to participate, but the reality is turning up to find places saying: ‘You can’t come in this entrance, it’s blocked off for you today. And we don’t have enough staff for you today’. So it has to actually follow through from policy to practice.

"Access to sport and physical activity was worse during covid-19 lockdown for people with a disability. Not only were facilities closed but pavements and parks were busier with people out for their daily exercise. Some people with a disability had their care packages reduced during lockdown, limiting further, their ability to exercise. This report reveals the need to conduct the next large scale piece of research on sport and disability in Scotland that is now underway."

Scotland has contributed 33 athletes to the Team GB squad taking part in the Tokyo Paralympics starting this week and SDS have produced a strategic plan to boost participation over the next eight years, inspired by the examples of elite athletes.

The OSS and SDS have already responded to the report’s conclusions by developing a research project in partnership with Sportscotland, Deaf Action, Disability Equality Scotland, Special Olympics UK and other stakeholders. The project is supported by the Peter Harrison Foundation and Master of Research student, and disability sport athlete and coach, Gemma Lumsdaine will lead the year-long project, supported by a research team from UWS and OSS, including Professors Davison and McPherson, and Dr Liz Carlin. See the rest of the article here: https://www.uws.ac.uk/news/paralympics-launch-in-tokyo-but-disability-remains-a-barrier-to-sport/