TD Bank-Individuals with Disabilities Increased Participation in Sports, New TD Survey Finds

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More than half of individuals with disabilities in the U.S. have increased their sports participation over the past five years, according to the Disability Inclusion in Sports Today survey released by TD Bank (No. 19 on the Fair360, formerly DiversityInc Top 50 Companies list).

The bank surveyed 503 individuals with disabilities across the U.S. to examine sports participation on the heels of the 17th Annual Achilles Hope & Possibility Road Race by TD Bank, one of the world’s largest road races supporting individuals with disabilities, which was held on Sunday, June 23 in New York City’s Central Park.

“Our support of Hope & Possibility reflects our focus on what people can do,” said Andrew Bregenzer, TD’s Regional President, Metro New York. “This means empowering people to achieve their full potential, based solely on their strengths and abilities.”

Hope & Possibility has grown significantly from its inaugural run in 2002 when 500 participants crossed the finish line, compared with more than 5,800 in 2019.

We have seen a remarkable increase in people with disabilities competing in road races over the years,” said Genna Griffith, Director of Special Projects for Achilles International. “We have advocated to make road races more accessible to people with disabilities, so they have equal opportunity to compete. This is a trend that we expect will continue as access and awareness of resources continue to drive inclusion across the country.”

Strong motivation to expand sports inclusion

The Disability Inclusion in Sports Today survey results showed a robust desire to participate more actively in sports among individuals with disabilities.

Four of 10 individuals with disabilities surveyed across all age groups who currently do not participate in sports would like to do so. The following reasons were cited as considerations to motivate their participation:

  • Improving your health (45%)
  • Convenience (18%)
  • Funding (13%)
  • Better Accommodations (13%)
  • Better access (12%)

Despite strong motivation, challenges continue to hinder optimal participation, including lack of time (36%), physical demand and/or injury (34%), high costs (30%), and transportation (29%). Moreover, 70% of respondents were unaware of organizations that offer relevant support. The study suggests that sports participation among individuals with disabilities has the potential to reach 50%, twice the rate of the general U.S. population.

The top cited ways to accelerate sports inclusion are by offering accessible training facilities or access (53%), increasing awareness (48%), expanding access to sports medicine (36%), and enhancing funding (35%).

Participation rates vary by age

  • Among those currently involved in sports, 52% say their participation has increased compared to five years ago. This proportion is higher among those under age 40 (71%) and declines to 20% for people over 60.
  • 31% say their participation has remained the same compared to five years ago.
  • Among those who are participating less, age is the dominant factor, increasing from 2% of those under 40 to 40% of those aged 60+.
  • Among those who are not currently involved in sports, 82% who participated in the past two years and 35% of those who have never played sports would be interested in participating.

Walking and swimming lap the rest

The survey found that individual sports are significantly more popular than team sports, as illustrated by the following list, ranked by popularity:

  • Walking (62%)
  • Swimming (54%)
  • Bicycling/Cycling (36%)
  • Golf (26%)
  • Running (26%)
  • Basketball (23%)

Disability inclusion is good business 

Businesses and organizations that support diversity inclusion enjoy enhanced brand equity, according to the survey.

In fact, nearly nine in ten respondents strongly/somewhat agree that they would be more likely to do business with a company that supports causes that are important to them, specifically those that help individuals with disabilities. They would also be more loyal to a company that actively supports this community. Nearly three in four respondents (74%) would consider switching their business to a company that offers accessible products and services.

Sports participation hits its stride

The survey shows that sports participation rates are not only higher than ever but are expected to grow among individuals with disabilities.

TD Bank and Achilles International share a deep and abiding commitment to enable people of all abilities to achieve their full potential as embodied by The Ready Commitment, TD’s corporate citizenship program, which empowers diverse communities to prosper in a changing world.

“We recognize that promoting inclusion contributes to a more robust, innovative and productive economy for all,” Bregenzer remarked. “We are proud of what TD and Achilles have accomplished so far, and we look forward to partnering together to facilitate a more accessible sports community — and world — for people of all abilities.”

Survey Methodology

The total sample includes 503 respondents who are people with disabilities. The sample was sourced from MARU’s panels and partners. A random national sample size of 503 has a margin of error of +/- 4.4%. Data has been weighted by age, gender and region to reflect the population. The survey was fielded June 2 to June 6, 2019 by MARU/Matchbox.