Sport and Adapted Physical Activity (APA) has been linked to providing positive outcomes for people with disabilities. This section provides an introduction to some of these issues and a brief history of how this field emerged. For those who are less familiar with this area, an introduction to the definitions and terminology of 'disability' is also provided.


People with a disability in developing countries face major barriers that limit their access to and participation in sport and physical activity. Within a development context, these barriers impact on both: (i) building activity pathways for people with disabilities and (ii) using sport and physical activity programmes to reach wider development goals.

The World Health Organisation estimates that 650 million people live with disabilities of various types, and the number is increasing due to the rise of chronic diseases, injuries, car crashes, falls, violence and other causes such as ageing. Of this total, 80% live in low-income countries; most are poor and have limited or no access to basic services, including rehabilitation facilities.

This rising incidence of disability, particularly in developing countries has the potential to place further burdens on governments and health care systems. Sport can be a low-cost and effective means to foster positive health and well-being, social inclusion and community building for people with a disability.