LTA aims to grow disability tennis provision across Britain through targeted actions to support disabled people
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Following International Day of Disabled Persons, the LTA has announced a series of targeted objectives to open up tennis to more disabled people across Britain. These actions will reinforce the LTA’s continued position as a world leader in making tennis more inclusive for disabled people.
Today we launched our Open for All plan, setting out how we intend to build on our successes to date and respond to the new challenges we have identified in order to open up tennis to more disabled people.
The plan sets out in more detail the specific work under way to make tennis more inclusive for disabled people. We will expand our provision for disabled people beyond our award-winning LTA Open Court Programme, in order to support greater opportunities for disabled people.
The plan has been developed in consultation with disabled people, those supporting disabled people and seeking input from experts such as Activity Alliance and Sport England. Sport England partner with, and jointly fund, the LTA Open Court Programme.
Open for All is the third plan we have announced following the release of the She Rallies Women in Tennis ambition and Breaking Down Barriers - for Underserved Lower Socio-Economic Groups. All the plans bring together our work to tackle the ambitious commitments made in last year’s three-year Inclusion Strategy. Our vision of Tennis Opened Up, in line with Sport England’s strategy “Uniting the Movement”, has inclusion for everybody at its core.
At the heart of the Open for All plan are five key objectives we have committed to:
- Continue to recover and rebuild - We will continue to listen to disabled people to understand the impact COVID-19 has had, and how tennis can respond effectively and inclusively. For example, encouraging a return to competition through the introduction of more informal and local competitions.
- Make tennis more inclusive for disabled people - We will continue to embed high standards of practice in all aspects of the game to include disabled people, explicitly as part of our broader plans. For example, introducing high quality disability inclusive education into the coaching curriculum. We will also apply to become a Disability Confident Employer to attract disabled people to apply to and work at the LTA.
- Grow and improve the LTA Open Court Programme - We will use the views of disabled people to inform how we grow our disability tennis participation programme. We will also grow the programme by working with County and Island Associations and other partners, increasing the number of locations across Britain and improving how people find and access the programme.
- Reach new and different audiences - We will identify and maintain key national partnerships to help us reach new and different audiences by exploring innovative projects to improve the accessibility into tennis for disabled people. For example, Action Audio which supports people who are blind or partially sighted at major events.
- Continue to support the player pathway - This includes delivering talent identification and recruitment campaigns to attract disabled people, and ensure they are supported and nurtured through the Wheelchair, VI, Learning Disability and Deaf pathways. We will also provide accessible opportunities for talent including delivering international events that highlight Britain as a leading tennis nation for disability tennis and bidding for future international events.
LTA CEO Scott Lloyd said: “Disabled people are facing even greater challenges than ever. As well as being hit disproportionally hard by rising costs, we know many feel the COVID pandemic has made access to sport and physical activity more difficult for them.
“We want to use the platform our very successful LTA Open Court Programme has created as a foundation for change, making our sport even more inclusive for disabled people and ensuring they can access and enjoy tennis without any barriers.
“To do this we need to identify and address the systemic issues for disability-inclusion and provide disabled people with the opportunity to access tennis how and when they wish”.
Dave Hardman, LTA Inclusion Development Manager added: “Crucially, our work needs to embrace all impairment types – whether that’s inclusively embedding opportunities in mainstream tennis activity or in impairment specific formats such as Wheelchair, Visually Impaired (VI), Deaf, Learning Disability, PAN impairment or Walking Tennis for those with long term health conditions.
“Working with our key partners and stakeholders, this ambitious plan will enable us to make our sport ever more attractive and accessible for disabled people, so they have even more opportunities to play in the way they want to play.”
Barry Horne MBE, CEO Activity Alliance said: “Activity Alliance is delighted to see the proactive approach being taken by the LTA in its disability plan. Being active and feeling included are essential to everyone’s well-being. We know the Covid-19 pandemic significantly worsened an already challenging position to result in the level of inactivity amongst disabled people being twice that of non-disabled people. It’s essential that sport and activity providers go the extra mile to make sure that they include disabled people in every aspect of their offer, and I’m pleased to see tennis leading the way.”
Our Open for All plan has been co-designed with a range of partners and stakeholders including AoC Sport, Parkinson’s UK and SENSE. We will ensure we continue to work as widely as possible with relevant organisations to deliver the actions outlined in the plan.