06/04/2023- Disability inclusion


In this article, we summarise the data collected from the Level Access Survey and highlight recommendations for the future.

The data we collected through our Level Access Survey has been assessed and the summary report, attached to this news post, shows that although there are areas of good practice with disability inclusion within the fencing community more needs to be done to support equal opportunity for disabled participants. The areas needing the most focus to better prioritise disability inclusion across our community are increasing coaching confidence in supporting disabled participants and addressing the barriers caused by specialist equipment needed for wheelchair using fencers.

The Level Access Survey was released on February 13th and was open for three weeks until March 5th. It was sent to club administrators through our Sport 80 system and reminders were published throughout the period on social media. We also ran a Community Discussion event in the second week to answer any questions and support any challenges administrators had in filling it out.

Disabled people remain one of the least active groups in our society. British Fencing worked with Activity Alliance to find out about current inclusive delivery at fencing clubs across the UK. The survey defined disability as anyone who has a long-term health condition, impairment, or illness, including deaf, blind, visually impaired, neurodiverse individuals, and those with learning impairments or other long-term conditions. The project explored club’s engagement in inclusive and wheelchair fencing through an online survey. With 21 questions in total, 19 being quantitative and 2 open qualitative questions.

This insight will help British Fencing to understand the current landscape of inclusive delivery and explore the support clubs may need to help more disabled people to take part in fencing.

Of the 401 fencing clubs, with a valid membership at the time of release, within the UK, the survey was completed by 93 club administrators or owners from 88 clubs.

“Our sincere thanks to all those who participated in the survey, and to the insight team at Activity Alliance for their support in the survey delivery and reporting. This information will help us in directing resources and providing the best support possible to increase coaches’ confidence and participation by disabled people within our sport” – Rick Rodgers, BF Inclusion Officer (Disability)

The recommendations from the survey results as agreed with Activity Alliance are as follows.

Prioritise the inclusion of disabled people in fencing clubs
There is a need for more efforts to prioritise inclusion of disabled people in fencing clubs. Among the 22% of clubs that completed the survey, only 58% prioritise working with disabled people. It is also predicted that non-respondent clubs are less likely to prioritise inclusion and work with disabled people. British Fencing encourage clubs to review their club priorities and enhance their efforts to work with disabled people.

Rollout of CPD training
Clubs have a lack of capability, confidence, and knowledge of working with disabled people. To improve the inclusion of disabled people in fencing clubs, British Fencing will work to provide CPD training, add disability inclusion modules to coach and workforce training, and signpost to other relevant training opportunities.

Enhancing Wheelchair Fencing opportunities through loaned equipment
While specialist equipment is important for supporting wheelchair users, only 8% of the disabled population are wheelchair users and many disabled people do not require different equipment. British Fencing will address the barrier of limited access to equipment by providing loan options for wheelchair fencing frames to strategically positioned clubs, explore other solutions, and educate clubs about inclusive delivery.

Click this link to download the “Level Access 2023 Final Summary Report

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