Background:The vision for the International Paralympic Committee is ‘To enable para-athletes to achieve sporting excellence and inspire and excite the world.’ Incumbent within this is
having a firm understanding of the various elements that could impact a person with disability being physically active, pursuing sport and ultimately becoming a high performance athlete.
A model that has attempted to create such an understanding in the able bodied sport system is known as SPLISS (Sport Policies Leading to International Sporting Success). To date, however, nothing has
been created within a disability context.
Within the larger SPLISS approach is recognition that participation is a key pillar. This is likely also the case in a Paralympic context although perhaps with many unique qualifiers.
It is this area that the International Paralympic Committee’s Sport Science Committee is particularly interested identifying ‘determinants of Paralympic participation’ as one of three key research
projects. Guiding the pursuit of this understanding is the unpublished and still evolving Legg-Higgs Model of Enablers / Barriers to Participation in Disability Sport.
In this model the authors propose that enablers are divided into: disability sport knowledge / access to coaching, facility and transportation structure, and cultural attitudes and beliefs about the
nature and meaning of disability. This model was tested in focus groups in Spring 2016 in a range of cultural contexts, to better understand why persons with disability are, or are not, participating
in physical activity.
Methods: Facilitated focus groups in Africa and the Caribbean, and analysis of participants perceptions of enablers and barriers to participation
Results: Preliminary analysis indicates that the Legg-Higgs model of enablers and barriers has applicability across a range of cultures and can help identify potential interventions
that have the potential to increase participation of person with a disability in sport and physical activity.
Conclusions: That barriers to participation are universal, although the strength and importance of specific identified barriers differed between countries.