On December 3, we will join our partners in celebrating International Day of Persons with Disabilities, a day dedicated to raising awareness and understanding of the experiences of those living with disabilities. Introduced in 1992, the day recognises the rights and well-being of disabled people and aims to gain support for critical issues relating to inclusion. This year’s theme is ‘Fighting for rights in the post-COVID era.”
While the pandemic has undoubtedly affected everyone, people with disabilities have been disproportionately affected. The Activity Alliance Annual Disability and Activity Survey revealed that twice as many disabled people felt that Coronavirus greatly reduced their ability to do sport or physical activity compared to non-disabled people. Respondents also said the lack of activity has led to both their physical and mental health becoming harder to manage.
At British Blind Sport, we take pride in making a visible difference through sport, because we know that taking the first step towards participating in recreational activities can help to change people's lives for the better. Research shows that regular exercise can relieve stress, improve sleep quality, boost the immune system and much more. Sport can provide you with an outlet, connect you to a network of support and allow you to meet other people in your community who share the same interests.
BBS, the RNIB, Metro Blind Sport, and Visionary have been working together to provide guidance for leisure operators that supports blind and partially sighted people's return to physical activity. Our partnership also produced a 'Helping You Help Others' document, which offers advice on how best to support and assist people with sight loss during Covid-19. For more information, visit: https://britishblindsport.org.uk/return-to-play-sports-and-leisure-sector-guidance/.
Coaches and volunteers play an important role in developing recreational activities across the country. BBS want to ensure that they have the knowledge to create an inclusive and accessible sporting environment for people with sight loss. Our ‘Coaching People with a Visual Impairment’ e-learning helps sports providers improve their knowledge and skills so that they can confidently include blind or partially sighted people in their activity sessions. Visit our website to try a free demo: https://britishblindsport.org.uk/coaching-people-with-a-visual-impairment/.
In September, we launched See Sport Differently – our new Sport England initiative designed to break down barriers in sport and increase opportunities for blind and partially sighted people to participate in physical activity. We're working with the RNIB and National Governing Bodies including The FA, England Athletics, Swim England, Goalball UK, The LTA, Worcester Warriors and The Change Foundation to raise awareness among the two million people with sight loss in the UK, and across the sports sector, about how more blind and partially sighted people can get involved with sport and feel the benefits. Visit our website to learn more about the project or to find out how you can get involved: https://britishblindsport.org.uk/see-sport-differently.