Evidence of need for OpenActive to support disabled people

There is a particular need to increase access to activities for disabled people, who are almost twice as likely (41%) to be physically inactive compared to non-disabled people (21%).

Need for support is further highlighted by the finding that 77% of disabled people want to be more active – above non-disabled people at 54% (Activity Alliance Survey 2022-2023).

The UK has committed to improving access to mainstream sporting activities. The binding UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006), says “States Parties shall take appropriate measures to encourage and promote the participation, to the fullest extent possible, of persons with disabilities in mainstream sporting activities at all levels” (Article 30)

Research shows that disabled people would prefer increased accessibility of mainstream activities than specifically adapted activities, so initiatives to improve information about accessibility of mainstream activities would be important for achieving this goal. 
Evidence suggests that poor information provision and inaccessible online services are key barriers to accessing physical activity opportunities for disabled people. Disabled people are less likely (73%) to say they had access to the information required to take part in opportunities than non-disabled people (83%).

Ways OpenActive can be used in for disability and accessibility

Developing better data about mainstream sport and activity opportunities that includes key accessibility information, to improve the ability to participate

If the amount of accessible open data about activities is increased, such data can also be used to understand and map supply of accessible opportunities, to identify where there may be gaps.

Supporting the uptake of physical activity among disabled individuals through the use of tools like Every Body Active which help to filter activities from the vast OpenActive data feeds according to accessibility criteria.

Steps to get there

Supporting data standards initiatives at scale is recommended per the UK’s National Data Strategy. Investing in supporting organisations to open data and requiring the inclusion of accessibility criteria. 
For such efforts it is important to build realistic business plans on a policy level.

Establish a set of ‘minimum data requirements’ for improving the accessibility of OpenActive data. We would recommend use of a participatory research project to develop these, building on work already undertaken as part of the initiative.

Research and develop options for including crowdsourced data about the experiences of accessibility of an event could be included in OpenActive, per a recommendation in a UN White Paper on achieving the SDGs for persons with disabilities using digital transformation.

What to do