Opportunities for learners with a disability | Pearson qualifications

Opportunities for learners with a disability

3 February 2014

Many teachers have asked us if a learner with a disability is able to study for the BTEC Sport qualifications. The answer is 'Yes of course!'

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All your learner needs is an interest in sport and the ability to participate in some form of sport, and a BTEC Sport qualification could be an option.

The next question we're often asked is 'What sort of sports can these learners take part in for the practical-based units?' To answer, we offer further guidance below on sports that are available and suitable for learners with disabilities and how you can support your learners in these practical-based units for disability sports.

The Youth Sport Trust has set up a TOP Sportsability inclusive activities activities programme, in partnership with National Governing Bodies of Sport, to help engage young disabled people in physical education and school sport. This online resource offers practical advice to teachers, learning support staff and other sports practitioners.

You can watch video clips and download content with ideas and strategies about including of young disabled people in physical activity.

To access TOP Sportsability, enter YSTINCLUSION in the 'promo' box. This takes you to a registration page that you only need to complete once.

The site has 3 sections:

  1. a user manual, detailing how to use the resource
  2. a 'Disability Sport & Adapted Games' section, which covers a range of different inclusive sports and activities
  3. a 'Sports Adaptations' section, covering traditional, 'mainstream' sports adapted for the widest possible range of abilities.

A wide range of sports are available for learners with disabilities. We've listed some of them below.


Archery is an inclusive sport that people with physical, sensory or learning difficulties can participate in. Its aims and regulations are similar to able-bodied archery, in that the aim is to shoot arrows as close to the centre of the target as possible. The only difference in Paralympic archery is that the target is 70 metres away, compared to able-bodied distances which are up to 90 metres away.

Archers can compete as individuals or as teams, both standing and sitting.

Find out more on the website for the British Wheelchair Archery Association.


Disability field athletics events include javelin, discus, shot, club and pentathlon. Athletes compete in the 5 wheelchair field disciplines using individually designed throwing frames to maximise their functional capabilities. The athlete either stands or sits depending upon the classification of disability.

Find out more on the website for the British Wheelchair Athletics Association.


Handcycling is for those who cannot use a regular bicycle or tricycle and has been a Paralympic sport since Athens 2004. There are 2 types of handcycle: one that clips onto the front of a wheelchair and one that the rider sits in. In competitive handcycling, there are 2 events - road race and time trial.

Find out more on the website for the Handcycling Association of The UK.

Table tennis

Table tennis can be played by wheelchair athletes and standing athletes. A match consists of 5 sets, each being played to 11 points. Individual, doubles and team matches can be played.

Find out more on the website for Table Tennis England.

Wheelchair basketball

Wheelchair basketball is a very popular sport for disabled athletes. There are 65 teams playing in 9 divisions in the UK.

Find out more on the website for British Wheelchair Basketball.


Anyone with a physical or sensory impairment can participate in bowls. The aims and objectives of bowls are the same as able-bodied bowls and this sport can be played alongside able-bodied athletes. The only difference is that a wheelchair athlete can choose to have a 'pusher' who is allowed to push their wheelchair.

Find out more on the website for the British Wheelchair Bowls Association.


Wheelchair fencing is static and fencing frames are used to help stabilise the athlete’s wheelchair. The sport has 3 competitions: sabre, epee and foil. There are 33 clubs registered with the British Disabled Fencing Association (BDFA) in the UK. Many of the clubs integrate able-bodied with disabled fencers.

Find out more on the website for the British Disabled Fencing Association.

Wheelchair racing

At Paralympic level there are a number of wheelchair racing track events, including 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m, 1500m, 5000m, 10000m, 4x100m relay, 4x400m relay and the marathon.

Find out more on the website for the British Wheelchair Racing Association.

Wheelchair rugby

Males and females can both compete in the same team. A team consists of 4 players who pass and move the ball around the court and have 40 seconds to cross the goal line with the ball.

Find out more on the website for Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby.


Wheelchair tennis is similar to the able-bodied game. However, in this sport, an athlete can allow the ball to bounce twice before it is hit. Athletes can compete in singles and doubles matches.

Find out more on the website for LTA.


This is a three-a-side team sport played on a volleyball court. The goal is 9m wide, with a ball about the size of a basketball but double the weight.

Players wear eye shades, so rely on orientation by using the tactile court markings to 'feel' where they are on the court. The aim for each team is to score as many goals as possible, while using their bodies to block and save any shots against them. Each game is 12 minutes per half.

Find out more on the website for Goalball UK.

Find an inclusive sports club in your local area

Parasport is a useful website to help you find disability sports clubs in your local area. You can also search for sports that are appropriate for a person, based on their impairment and classification of impairment.

Workshops and courses

The organisations and their associated websites shown below provide information on workshops available for coaching and teaching sport to children with disabilities:

Please don't hesitate to contact us if you need any further information.

Best regards,



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