People with a Disability fact sheet

This fact sheet provides some background information and suggestions to support clubs and activity providers to successfully reach individuals with a disability.

People with disabilities are likely to be looking for opportunities to socialise, develop skills and try new things in safe and understanding environments that cater for their personal needs with skilled and experienced leaders.

People with disabilities seek physical activity that is well organised, safe and offers social interaction with others of the same age, like most people.

How to reach people with a disability

  • use of internet, brochures and face to face
  • make sure that promotional materials are available in alternate formats i.e. large print, TTY, accessible websites, internet and social media
  • through personal contact, support groups and carers networks
  • target specific groups ie. special schools and disability service providers
  • provide communication tools to support communications such as communication boards, pictograms, and
  • people with disabilities want to be involved in decisions about their physical activity options

Key motivating factors for participation

  • All inclusive programs that are tailored to meet specific individual needs i.e. adapting sports to modified games and provision of individualised programs.
  • Activities where there are social and educational benefits in participating.
  • Friendly, safe, welcoming and supportive centres and programs.
  • Facilitating connections to community-based activities e.g. encourage families of children with a disability to take part in community activities and programs and to create social connections.
  • Provide accessible community transport options.
  • Genuine commitment to partnering with family/carers including follow up.

People with a disability profile

There are considerable variations in the makeup of the people with a disability and they are represented in all demographic and population groups. The Victorian Disability Act defines disability as an impairment that may be sensory, physical and neurological or an acquired brain injury, which results in substantially reduced capacity in at least one of the areas of self-care, self-management, mobility or communication. 

The definition of disability also includes an intellectual disability or developmental delay. People with a disability work, go to school, get married, pay taxes and play sport.

  • As at 2011, some 33,883 people who have a disability live in Moreland, this is almost one in four people having a disability.
  • Across Victoria’s population, 15.4 per cent have a physical disability and 2.9 per cent have a intellectual impairment.
  • 5.6 per cent of the Moreland population needs assistance to perform daily activities, such as self-care, body movements or communication because of a disability, long-term health condition, or old age.
  • More people have a physical disability, however the majority of people are able to live independently.
“People with disabilities like to know organisers understand their needs and that activities will be tailored to their needs”

Physical activity is a vital part of a healthy lifestyle for people with disabilities, not only to enhance health and prevent disease, but also to reduce the number of secondary conditions that can result from an initial disability.

Physical activity is important to the day to day life of people with disabilities.  Strength and stamina that is developed by participating in physical activity can help maintain a higher level of independence for people with a disability.  Increase physical activity may also enhance a person’s ability to work, go to school and participate in all aspects of community life.

Likely barriers faced by people with a disability

There are a number of likely participation barriers faced by people with a disability. Whilst barriers vary for different people, some common barriers reported are:

  • lack of understanding of needs by provider
  • lack of skilled or appropriate support staff
  • fear of rejection
  • lack of suitable or age appropriate activities
  • physical access to places and spaces
  • cost implications ie. transport, support staff, carers and specialised equipment
  • lack of knowledge/information regarding the opportunities available to access these
  • equipment modifications required and availability of equipment
  • sports not accommodating people who have different expectations and/or capabilities
  • lack of available support workers and/or carers
  • programs unable to accommodate participants with impairments and behavioural issues
  • shyness, and
  • Inflexible programs to accommodate participants with impairments and behavioural issues.

While people with disabilities may experience barriers, it is important to understand that when different demographic influences collide that severe disadvantage is likely to be experienced.

For instance, older age, with low to no income, and with limited education and a disability then they are likely to experience greater barriers to participation.

What you can do

  • Show how the service can respond, modify and adapt programs to bridge gaps and provide a safe environment.
  • If your program is inclusive of everyone – be sure to state why e.g. ‘our coaches can easily adapt and modify activities to suit individual needs.
  • Listen to people with disabilities, their parents and their carers.
  • Advertise that the facility is suitable for the mobility of the user: ‘this is a wheelchair friendly facility; multiple skills levels are encouraged’

Be clear on your communication strategy:

  • we will folllw up with you if things are not working out
  • we can adapt to your needs, talk to our staff
  • we will provide you with enough information for you to make an informed decision
  • be clear on what support and assistance is available for people
  • organise demonstrations at schools, and
  • use images that depict a range of abilities in marketing.


People with Disabilities fact sheet (PDF 550Kb)