This briefing provides an overview of evidence to support the engagement of people living with disabilities in nature and the outdoors. It is part of Natural England’s ‘Included outside’ publication series that is based on a review of a broad range of literature related to inclusive nature engagement conducted by an expert team from the University of Sheffield.
This briefing highlights that the common reasons which can limit opportunities for people living with disabilities to enjoy nature include lack of mobility and affordable access, the suitability of existing infrastructure, their confidence in natural environments, and the lack of representation of people with disabilities, as well as other people’s stereotypes and assumptions.
The briefing then goes onto identify lessons from the evidence for supporting better access and meaningful inclusion. These include:
• Communicating and monitoring what infrastructure is available;
• Co-production approaches are a core component of ‘what works’;
• The need to recognise the agency of people with disabilities;
• Widening the sensory ways of experiencing diverse nature settings;
• Small, local or ‘stepping stone’ nature encounters are important.
Three short case studies of interesting initiatives are then presented, as well as a range of readings and resources, for anyone seeking inspiration:
• PEDALL Inclusive cycling, the New Forest;
• #IfIHadAnNNR – Proposed National Nature Reserve (NNR) Mosslands of Wigan, Salford and Warrington;
• Sensing Nature (a research study and set of resources developed with Dr Sarah Bell at the University of Exeter).