The English Federation of Disability Sport is the national body responsible for developing sport for disabled people in England.  Working with key partners, including National Disability Sport Organisations (NDSOs) and National Governing Bodies of sport (NGBs), they aim to increase and improve sports opportunities for disabled people. They provide insight and recommendations for NGBs to give them an understanding of how to improve their offerings to encourage disabled people to participate in their sport.  In order to do this, they need to understand the drivers and barriers to disabled people participating in sport.


The English Federation of Disability Sport (EFDS) decided to commission this qualitative research in order to gain a better understanding of the real, and perceived barriers that may prevent people from taking part in sport, by engaging with disabled people and Deaf people


The EFDS asked Mary-Anne Rankin to assist them with this qualitative research. Mary-Anne has many years’ experience of involving disabled people and Deaf people in research within the private and public sectors, and has her own panel of 400 disabled people who regularly take part in her clients’ research. In addition to this panel, Mary-Anne has well-established relationships with organisations of disabled people and Deaf people throughout the UK, and this strong network enables her to provide suitable people to take part in a wide range of research methods.

In consultation with the EFDS the decision was taken to hold a number of impairment specific focus groups. The reason for holding separate focus groups was to encourage an open and honest discussion about impairment specific issues, without interruption or deviation, which could have been the temptation in pan-disability groups. The aim was to create an atmosphere where participants felt comfortable about sharing sometimes very personal issues.


Through these focus groups, EFDS gained a more detailed understanding of the perceptions of sport and physical activity, as well as how they differ, and a more tangible understanding of the reasons behind the barriers to participation in sport. The research findings will be shared with NGBs, and other stakeholders, providing insight into ways in which opportunities for disabled people and Deaf people can be improved and sustained. This will enable stakeholders to develop strategies which set out how they aim to achieve these goals.




“Mary-Anne has been a delight to work with. Her insight and added value resulted in an invaluable piece of research that will act as a cornerstone to our future research.” 

Emma Spring

Research and Insight Manager, EFDS 2012