Skip to content.

Our charity is working to make active lives possible with a vision that disabled people are active for life.

Menu. Open and close this menu with the ENTER key.

View watch what you say around disabled people film

(Watch what you say around disabled people film transcript)

For far too long disabled people have faced misconceptions and presumptions on what is and isn’t possible, including in sport. It's time to move the conversations on, open people's minds and shift out-dated views on disability. 

Launched on 15 July, who says? gives positive evidence, resources and guidance to replace these negative ideas. The campaign films focus on six perceptions and provide upbeat insight from a mixture of disabled and non-disabled people.  

The campaign was created in response to Activity Alliance’s Taking part with disabled people: perceptions research, which explored non-disabled people’s attitudes on inclusive activity. The findings show a lack of understanding could be causing long-lasting barriers for disabled people. For the least active audience in our country, people’s attitudes can make or break activity experiences.

This page focuses on the perception - watch what you say around disabled people

What do we know?

  • Non-disabled people were concerned that they may patronise disabled people (53%) or that they may say something inappropriate (37%). Taking part with disabled people report
  • One in five (21%) were unsure how disabled people would communicate with other people in the activity. Taking part with disabled people report
  • The way the media reports on disabled people in sport has a societal impact and has wider effects on people’s perceptions of disability. Media report

Calling time on this perception

It is not unusual for you or your organisation to fear saying the wrong things around disabled people. What’s important is your enthusiasm to learn more. And Activity Alliance with our members have ways to support you on this journey.

Who says? empowers people, on and off the field of play, to challenge their own and other's perceptions.

Yes, words matter, for everyone. They create labels and stereotypes – which can shape the way we act towards each other. Language can act as a barrier when it is negative and misrepresents disabled people and their lives. Negative language can also create stigmas and disempowers people.

Language evolves and it is very personal. People fear saying the wrong thing and offending disabled people. It’s important to read up on better practice terminology but the most important point is to ask for the individual’s preference. This is more difficult in mass communications as with any other large group, there can be no one-size-fits-all approach.

Previous research shows that psychological barriers are the most significant in preventing disabled people from being active. Organisations should use positive language and terminology to help attract more disabled people to activities.

Inclusive communications

Effective marketing and communications is essential for all organisations. Inclusive practice can help everyone reach more people, including disabled people.

The best way to embed inclusive communications across your organisation is to develop a policy. This should clearly set out your commitment to inclusion. In order to develop your policy, involve internal and external stakeholders.

We support organisations to embed key principles into their own work. There is a range of resources to support you.

Access our inclusive communication resources here.

Media guide

Our Media Guide supports journalists and sports providers to produce news content on disabled people in sport. It explores six areas: tailoring content, story type, style and placement, language, media formats and ambassadors.

Social model of disability

There are two schools of thought or ‘models’ of disability, the social model and medical model. The social model of disability says that it is the barriers in society, such as inaccessible buildings or people’s attitudes, that create disability. Disabled people have choice, control and independence in society when these barriers are removed.

Disabled people developed the social model of disability. This is because the medical model did not explain their lived experience of disability or help to develop more inclusive ways of living. You should base your policy on the social model of disability because it empowers disabled people and encourages non-disabled people and organisations to be more inclusive. By removing ‘barriers’ we remove the disability.

Information is widely available online but organisations like Scope (www.scope.org.uk) have more on this topic. 

Call time on negative perceptions with us

Taking the conversation beyond the #WhoSays hashtag is important to us. It’s crucial we talk honestly and openly about matters that affect disabled people’s activity, like policy, funding and promotion. We hope the campaign leads to bigger conversations, greater collaboration and wider systemic responses.

If your organisation would like to get involved, has a story to share or you have a great idea for the campaign, please contact news@activityalliance.org.uk or call 0161 228 2868. We have a range of digital supporter materials available for organisations and the media to use. 

Who says we can’t change this perception and more? Thank you for your support.  

Who says in an orange box graphic