A consultation has been launched to review the current provision of fitness and leisure facilities available for disabled people.
Driven by industry body, ukactive, the consultation will study the measures that fitness and active leisure facilities have implemented to cater for disabled people and better facilitate their participation.
It comes after concerns that the pandemic has had a hugely negative impact on the activity levels of disabled people.
A recent study by The Activity Alliance showed that twice as many disabled people felt that coronavirus greatly reduced their ability to do sport or physical activity (27 per cent) compared to non-disabled people (13 per cent).
The survey showed disabled people are some of the least active, despite great demand and intent to do more.
The ukactive consultation is open to all health clubs, gyms, fitness and leisure facilities in the UK and will last until the end of September, with the findings and recommendations set to be published in December.
Designed in collaboration with disabled people and ukactive’s partners across the disability sector, the consultation – called Everyone Can – will lead to the publication of "clear, implementable and practical measures" for fitness and leisure operators to build upon their existing offer for disabled people.
The work forms part of ukactive’s Everyone Can agenda, which is supported by Sport England. The initiative aims to help remove the barriers to physical activity for disabled people by ensuring that fitness and leisure operators are supported to continue to improve access to their services.
Chair of ukactive, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, said: “Our ambition is to create a fitness and leisure sector that is freely accessed and used by all, enabling everyone to be active and participate in whatever capacity they wish.
“Our sector is uniquely placed to welcome more disabled people and play an essential role in providing opportunities for people to stay active and healthy, regardless of their background, age or ability.
“We want to thank our partners Sport England and those from the disability sector for collaborating with the sector to drive change, and we urge operators of all sizes to contribute to this important work so that together we can improve the inclusivity and accessibility of our nation’s gyms, pools and leisure facilities.”
The consultation from ukactive will build on the findings of ukactive’s Everyone Can report, commissioned by Sport England and the first of its kind, which focused on the physical activity landscape for disabled people with a leisure sector focus.
Specific areas have been identified as key themes for improvement including upskilling the workforce; enhancing levels of customer service and engaging better with disabled people; providing more information to customers; communicating that gyms and leisure centres are open to all, and beginning to capture and report on usage levels and experiences of disabled people.
Prior to the pandemic, the gap in activity levels was beginning to close, however, disabled people are still twice as likely as non-disabled people to be inactive.