Sport Northern Ireland recognises that people with disabilities are frequently under-represented in terms of access to and/or participation in sporting activities. Northern Ireland experiences the highest prevalence of disability in the UK, with 20% of the population experiencing some form of disability. Disability Sports NI (DSNI) estimates that only 10% - 15% of people with disabilities in Northern Ireland regularly participate in sport or physical activity, a figure well below the participation levels for the population as a whole, yet there is an increasing demand from people with disabilities to take part in sport.
Disability Mainstreaming Policy
The purpose of Sport Northern Ireland's Disability Mainstreaming Policy is to:
- Avoid discrimination against people with disabilities in Sport Northern Ireland funded programmes; and
- Encourage the stimulation and engagement of other organisations in promoting a climate of non-discrimination and equal opportunities for people with disabilities.
The main aims of the policy are:
- To ensure that people with disabilities are able to access and participate fully in the provision of facilities, goods, services and employment opportunities in sport and physical activity;
- To ensure that people with disabilities, including young people and groups representative of those particularly vulnerable to exclusion, are fully consulted in future policy and programme development;
- To ensure that the needs of people with disabilities influence and inform future policy and programme development; and
- To identify and implement positive action initiatives based on consultation and identified needs.
To support the implementation of its Disability Mainstreaming Policy, Sport Northern Ireland primarily invests in DSNI to work on key identified work areas including:
- Supporting 10 governing bodies of sport with the implementation of Disability Mainstreaming, including support for talented athletes;
- The provision of volunteering and mentoring programmes to increase the number of people actively leadership using leadership; and
- To identify and support community based mainstream sports clubs to develop opportunities for disabled people.
Access To Sports Facilities For People With Disabilities
Disability Sports NI and Sport Northern Ireland have developed sports facility access guidelines - “Access To Sports Facilities For People With Disabilities: Design and Management Guidelines” (2010 Edition) to help ensure that all new, extended and altered sports facilities in Northern Ireland meet the best possible levels of good practice in terms of access for people with disabilities.
The guidelines which are also endorsed by Northern Ireland’s main disability rights organisation, Disability Action, are based on optimum levels of best practice in relation to the design and management of facilities which fully meet the needs of disabled sports people.
The guidelines provide detailed guidance and advice on four key areas of facility design and management:
- Design and technical issues, including standards for car parking, signage and changing areas;
- Sports specific technical guidelines for 14 Paralympic sports;
- Guidance on putting in place relevant policies and procedures; and
- Guidance on developing inclusive sports development plans.
Download Access To Sports Facilities For People With Disabilities: Design and Management Guidelines