Engagement of people with disabilities in sport across the life span
Introduction This chapter focuses on the engagement of people with disabilities in sport across the life span. The relatively limited mainstream media coverage of persons with disabilities in sports, the relatively limited involvement of persons with disabilities in community sports programmes and the belief that disability typically implies poor health and an inability to engage in vigorous physical activity might seem to minimise the relevance or significance of examining people with disabilities in sport. However, statistics about the incidence of disability in populations around the world and facts about the capabilities of people with disabilities constitute a strong argument for considering persons with disabilities in a general examination of engagement in sport and physical activity across the life span. According to the United Nations (2009), persons with disabilities are the world’s largest minority, with approximately 10 per cent of the world’s population living with a disability and with relatively more people with disabilities being poor and living in poorer countries. According to a review of data from the 2008 United States (US) American Community Survey (Brault, 2009), it was conservatively estimated that nearly 13 per cent of the civilian non-institutionalised population five years old and older in the US had a disability. Disability rates in this population increased with age, ranging from 5.2 per cent for those 5-17 years old to 38.1 per cent for those 65 years old and older. Being disabled implies having some limitations, but these limitations do not necessarily prevent people from engaging in sports and other vigorous physical activities.