Separate but equal? An assessment of awareness and attitudes toward disability and para sport at the 2014 Commonwealth Games


~~The United Nations states that persons with a disability have the right to participate on an equal basis in community life including recreational, leisure, and sporting activities (UN, 2009) The Government of Canada’s Annual report on disability issues reported over half (50.6%) of people with disabilities desired to increase their participation in sport and leisure activities but faced barriers from doing so such as a lack of adequate assistance, inaccessible facilities, lack of specialized equipment, and attitudes/misconceptions about disability (HRSDC, 2010, WHO, 2011). It has been suggested that hosting sporting events can offer an opportunity to access scarce resources to create more accessible infrastructure, increase support services, and potentially change attitudes towards disability (Sherry et al. 2011). Similarly, it is believed that hosting para-sport events can influence community members ‘ perceptions and understanding of disability, resulting in greater integration of persons with disability into community life (Misener et al., 2012). Thus, the purpose of the current project was to assess and analyze spectator, volunteer, and community members’ attitudes towards persons with a disability and awareness of disability sporting events pertaining to the 2014 Commonwealth games in Glasgow Scotland. Participants included a total of 2860 volunteers who were recruited pre-event to assess their attitudes towards persons with a disability and their awareness of para sport events taking place at the games. Results revealed that males had more awareness of para sport events, however females had more positive attitudes towards persons with a disability. Likewise those with higher education and higher socio-economic status generally held more positive attitudes towards disability and disability issues. Finally in a predictive model, greater awareness of para sport events was significantly associated with more positive attitudes towards disability. Implications are discussed pertaining to increased increasing community access and participation in physical activity for persons with a disability.