New research reveals 2.2 million Australians with a disability believe there is not enough representation of people with a disability in sportJanuary 11, 2023 | Sydney, Australia
- Nearly two-thirds (64%) of Australians living with a disability (the equivalent of almost 2.1 million Australians), believe Australians do not fully understand their disability.
- To champion inclusivity on and off the court, Mastercard Ambassador and former world No.8 singles tennis player Alicia Molik took to the court wearing simulation glasses – playing with two blind and low vision (BLV) tennis champions – to simulate the game from the perspective of a person living with a vision impairment.
- During the Australian Open 2023, a blind and low vision (BLV) tennis match is scheduled to take place on Monday 23 January. To support the growth of BLV tennis, Mastercard is funding a Blind Sports Australia (BSA) grant to grow the game at a grassroots level.
- After launching globally, Mastercard is launching Touch Cards this year in Australia – three individual cards (debit, credit, prepaid) – each with unique notches to help blind and low-vision Mastercard cardholders distinguish their cards.
Australians have a great respect and love for sport, however new research reveals that 57% of the population (approximately 11.4 million Australians) agree there is not enough representation of people living with a disability in sport.
The research, commissioned by Mastercard in partnership with Blind Sports Australia (BSA), revealed seven in ten Australians (70%) agree the sports industry has made progress to be more diverse, however there is still work to be done to ensure everyone feels like they belong.
Australians living with a disability agree it’s important for people of all abilities to be included (94%) in sport, however more than three-quarters (77%) report they’ve faced obstacles, such as travel, lack of information and lack of specialist equipment, to participate. Additionally, over 1 in 5 (22%) report concerns about feeling excluded and a further 52% don’t know any athletes with their disability being represented.
Australians living with a disability think it is important to have role models2, and tennis is among one of the sports that players with a disability feel caters specifically to their needs3.
Spotlighting blind and low vision tennis
As the official payment partner of Australian Open 2023, and one of the world’s top 5 businesses on DiversityInc’s Top 50 Companies for Diversity4, Mastercard is championing inclusivity on and off the court by showcasing the game in a new light.
Showcasing the game in a new light, Mastercard Ambassador Alicia Molik took to the court with Courtney Webeck (Blind & Low Vision Australian B2 Champion5) and Mick Leigh (Blind & Low Vision Australian B3 Champion6) wearing blackout simulation glasses – simulating the game from the perspective of a person living with a vision impairment.
The Priceless experience gave Molik a new-found appreciation for blind and low vision tennis and the need for growth in this code: “Throughout my career, I’ve been tested during matches, but this felt like a totally different ball game. The most challenging part for me, while simulating the lived experiences of a person living with a vision impairment, was picking up the sound when the ball was in flight – it made me feel like I was very incapable of a skill that ordinarily I’d be an expert at.”
With different codes of tennis gaining awareness and traction, Australians living with a disability say it is important for them to have role models represented in sport (57%). Representation is not only key for ensuring people living with a disability feel included, but to help them feel inspired to participate (37%). Beyond this, Australians living with a disability believe education (86%), awareness (76%), and major events (75%) have the power to make people living with a disability feel more included.
Richard Wormald, Division President, Australasia, Mastercard, said: “Mastercard’s research has shown that only one in 107 Australians living with a disability believe that sensory disabilities (including vision impairments and hearing loss) are represented – this is far lower than other disabilities. As the official payment partner of Australian Open 2023, Mastercard is championing inclusivity on and off the court, ensuring everyone who is passionate about tennis feels like they belong.
“With tennis being one of the top three sports for inclusivity8, the Australian Open is a brilliant event to champion belonging in sport, making it priceless for all.”
To model this, during the AO, Webeck and Leigh will play a match at the National Tennis Centre between opponents within their classification. The Australian Open will celebrate its inaugural All Abilities Day this year (Tue 24 January). To support inclusion at a grassroots level, Mastercard is funding a Blind Sports Australia (BSA) grant to grow blind and low vision tennis across the country.
Matthew Clayton, Chief Executive Officer, Blind Sports Australia said: “We continue to work closely with our state members and Tennis Australia to grow participation in blind and low vision tennis, among other sports, across Australia. Through this grant, and partnership, we aim to support aspiring or potential athletes across all levels to have a swing at tennis. It is only through representation and progress, such a match of blind and low vision during the Australian Open 2023, we’re able to raise awareness for the game and encourage inclusivity for all.”
Mastercard launches Touch Card for Australians living with a vision impairment
As part of its work to drive inclusivity on and off the court, Mastercard will launch Touch Cards in Australia this year. The three cards (debit, credit, prepaid) have unique notches to help blind and low vision cardholders distinguish their cards.
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1Two-thirds (66%) of Australians with a disability, the equivalent of nearly 2.2 million Australians with a disability, agree that as it stands, there isn’t enough representation of people with a disability in sport.
257% of Australians with a disability say that it's important for people with a disability to have role models/see people with disability included
3Australians with a disability who play sports are most likely to see swimming (47%) and tennis (43%) as the sports that cater specifically for people with their disabilities.
4Disability:IN Marketplace Innovator of the Year, Winner of ANA’s Multicultural Excellence Awards for People with Disabilities for Touch Cards; Source: Global Inclusion Report
5B2 Classification: Visual acuity ranging from LogMAR 1.50 to 2.60 (inclusive). Source: https://www.blindsportsaustralia.com.au/vision-impairment-classification
6B3 Classification: Visual acuity ranging from LogMAR 1.0 to 1.40 (inclusive) OR visual fields less than 10 degrees diameter and visual acuity better than 0.5 (B4) https://www.blindsportsaustralia.com.au/vision-impairment-classification
8Australians with a disability who play sports are most likely to see swimming (47%), tennis (43%) and soccer (34%) as the sports that cater specifically for people with their disabilities.
About the research:
The research was conducted by YouGov via an online survey conducted between 15 December and 18 December 2022. The sample comprised a nationally representative sample of 1,048 Australians aged 18 years and over. The data is weighted by age, gender and region to reflect the latest ABS population estimates.
Australians with a disability:
The research was conducted by YouGov via an online survey conducted between 15 December and 20 December 2022. The sample comprised a nationally representative sample of 1,006 Australians 18+ living with a disability (either limited a little or limited a lot in their day-to-day life). The data is weighted by age, gender and region to reflect the latest ABS population estimates.
About Blind and Low Vision (BLV) Tennis:
There are four classifications/categories of Blind and Low Vision Tennis, B1-B4.
Blind Sports Australia
Blind Sports Australia (BSA) is a not-for-profit national sporting organisation for blind and vision impaired sport. BSA helps create pathways and opportunities for people to participate in blind sport from grassroots community level, right up to elite competition at national and international level.
Blind Sports Australia work with eleven members around Australia and other sports, such as Tennis Australia, to grow blind sporting opportunities for people who are blind or have low vision and raise awareness of blind sports across the community.
Blind Sports Australia are a founding member of Paralympics Australia, the Australian Sporting Alliance for People with a Disability, and are Australia's representative to the International Blind Sports Federation.
About Mastercard (NYSE: MA)
Mastercard is a global technology company in the payments industry. Our mission is to connect and power an inclusive, digital economy that benefits everyone, everywhere by making transactions safe, simple, smart and accessible. Using secure data and networks, partnerships and passion, our innovations and solutions help individuals, financial institutions, governments and businesses realize their greatest potential. Our decency quotient, or DQ, drives our culture and everything we do inside and outside of our company. With connections across more than 210 countries and territories, we are building a sustainable world that unlocks priceless possibilities for all.