The saying goes ‘walking is for everyone.’

And while walking is definitely up there with the most accessible of activities to the widest audience, for disabled people it can often be as inaccessible as any other activity.
We recently worked with Bury Leisure to help with getting more disabled people walking in the borough.
And with the big push to get more people active, particularly those currently underserved by activity provision with disabled people amongst the most inactive, we thought sharing a bit of insight and learning on the work we did together would be helpful for other organisations.
So, here’s three ways, we could #DoItDifferently to support more disabled people to access walking activities.

First up, stop claiming your walks are ‘fully accessible’ or ‘inclusive to all’

We appreciate the intention, but claiming these things tells disabled people very little about your activities, it suggests something we can’t absolutely assure and is often well beyond our control.
The fact with walking is, we’re dealing with existing infrastructure and nature, which are far from ‘fully accessible’ or ‘inclusive to all.’
So, let’s just stop trying to assure things we’re not able to and instead talk about the features of the walk.

Second up, talk about the features of your walk

Does your walking route have level access? Are there overhang branches in places? Does it become particularly busy at certain times of the day?
Knowing these and alike are much more useful to disabled people to enable them to make as informed decision as to whether the walk is accessible to them or not.
Make sure this information is stored somewhere accessible, such as your (hopefully) accessible website, for easy review by disabled people.

Finally, promote through networks disabled people engage with

You’ve reviewed your walking activity, you’ve talked about its accessible features and updated them on your website. Now it’s just a case of waiting for disabled people to come, right? Unfortunately not.
While some disabled people may engage simply by taking these steps, it’s likely you’ll also have to do some targeted promotion.
The best bet is to reach out to organisations or services who already have established relationships, or better yet groups they support who are disabled.
So look into your local special educational needs provision, day services, local sensory support team’s and social care services.
Reach out to them and make them aware of your walking activity and appetite to support those they work with.
And that’s three ways we can #DoItDifferently to support disabled people to access walking activities.
Let me know in the comments what’s encouraged you as a disabled person to access walking activities or how you’ve had success as an organisation in encouraging disabled people to access your walks.
And follow @BeyondEmpowerUK and sign up to our mailing list, to learn how we can #DoItDifferently to make more ofwhat we do work better for disabled people.