Public want to see more disability sport feature in the media

The Paralympic Games take centre stage in Rio on Friday 7 September and the English Federation of Disability Sport (EFDS) has published new research that demonstrates the public's desire to see more disability sport in the media.

The Media Research Report, commissioned by ComRes, also highlights the importance of coverage to be on a par with non-disabled people in sport and for reporting on disability sport to go beyond the Games.

The EFDS spoke to disabled people, non-disabled people and sports journalists from local, national and specialist media outlets. The report also identified the media’s current portrayal of disabled people in sport. The key findings revealed:

  • The way the media reports on disabled people in sport has a societal impact and has wider effects on people’s perceptions of disability.
  • Despite the notable improvement in reporting since London 2012, disabled and non-disabled people want to see more disability sport coverage and parity with non-disabled people in sport.
  • There needs to be long-term efforts to improve the media coverage in-between Paralympic Games to have a lasting impact for all disabled people in sport. While this is a high profile year for disability sport, there is an opportunity to shape coverage beyond the Paralympics.
  • Journalists and sports providers need more support and guidance on appropriate reporting.

In order to help create the culture change needed to get disability sport on an equal level with able bodied sport, the EFDS has released a better practice guide. The resource, designed for journalists and those responsible for reporting on disability sport focuses on six areas: tailoring content, story type, style and placement, language, media formats and ambassadors.

Chantel Scherer, Director of Marketing, Communications and Member Engagement at the Sport and Recreation Alliance said: The Paralympic Games will showcase the best of elite sport over the next fortnight and highlight the diverse range of activities that we believe makes sport or activity accessible for everyone to participate in and enjoy.

“Our Paralympians can inspire the nation but it is important that the media and their coverage does not stop at the closing ceremony. The EFDS is already starting to bring the different sectors together to put disability sport in the media on a more regular basis but there is still more that can be done.

“The same applies to the promotion of activities at a grassroots level so that people are aware of opportunities where they can engage in disability sport and recreation. During the Paralympics we will be encouraging the sector and the nation to #TryYourKitOn and get active, tapping in to the success and inspiration coming in from Brazil.”

Barry Horne, Chief Executive at EFDS, said: “The news we consume can affect everyone’s perceptions of themselves as people and, for the talented few in sport, as athletes. This means that it is particularly important that coverage is positive if it is going to encourage disabled people to access opportunities and take part. That is why we all have an obligation to improve our reporting and articles about disabled people in sport.

Although we are well placed to support journalists and sports providers before the most recognised event in disability sport, the Paralympics, it is paramount that, all year round, we address the issues raised.”

Sport England, the Sports Journalists’ Association and the British Paralympic Association are supporting EFDS with the new research and Guide.

Follow the conversation using #EFDSMediaReport