A Framework for Understanding Barriers to Participation in Sport for Persons with Disability


  • David Legg
  • Colin Higgs
  • Osnat Fliess Douer
  • Peter Bukhala
  • Aurelie Pankowiak


The motivation for this paper was creating a framework to help understand the barriers and determinants of participation in sport for persons with a disability from grassroots to high performance (the playground to the podium) in all cultural contexts. This was accomplished through two main steps. The first was a comprehensive review of literature and feedback from academic colleagues. The second was interviews and surveys with persons with disabilities and disability sport leaders in five nations followed again by feedback from academic colleagues. The resulting framework included three main barriers: physical, sport specific and social. Each of these were then further divided into two additional layers of specific barriers.  

Author Biographies

Osnat Fliess Douer

Osnat Fliess Douer is Director of Science and Technology at the Israeli Paralympic Committee and a guest professor at the Faculty of Movement and Rehabilitation Sciences at KU Leuven, Belgium. Her research focuses on combining innovative technologies to maximize Paralympic athlete performance.

Peter Bukhala

Peter Bukhala is an associate professor in the Department of Health Promotion and Sports Science at Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology, Kenya. His area of research is disability sport.

Aurelie Pankowiak

Aurelie Pankowiak is a research fellow in the Institute for Health and Sport at Victoria University, in Melbourne, Australia. Her research focuses on national Paralympic sport policies, and inclusion/ diversity within sport development.





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