An Assessment of the Accessibility of Fitness Facilities for People with Physical Disabilities in Kuwait
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Access to fitness facilities for people with disabilities (PWDs) is the gateway to their participation in all indoor physical activity exercises and gaining the benefits of being physically active. However, lack of accessibility has historically limited PWDs from engaging in social and recreational activities. The perennially hot weather conditions in Kuwait not only render outdoor physical activity difficult but also engaging in indoor physical activity nearly indispensable for a physically active life. The growing demand for indoor physical activity programs has led to an unprecedented surge in the fitness industry in Kuwait, yet little is known about how accessible the fitness facilities are. Individuals with physical disabilities are often doubly disadvantaged by accessibility barriers. People with disabilities can be change agents when empowered with the appropriate strategies. This dissertation conducted a national-level assessment of twenty randomly sampled fitness facilities in Kuwait. Ten individuals with physical disabilities assessed the fitness facilities and also delivered customized recommendations for accessibility barrier removal to the fitness facilities. A follow-up assessment was conducted to determine changes in accessibility as a result of the feedbacks. Qualitative interviews were also conducted with the fitness facility operators (n = 20) and individuals with physical disabilities (n = 10). Overall, the study found that at baseline, only 35% of the fitness facilities were accessible (mean accessibility score > 55), while 65% were accessible after the intervention. In addition, the knowledge and self-efficacy levels of the PWDs involved in the study statistically improved during the course of the study. Qualitative findings indicated that the fitness facility operators were willing to improve the accessibility of their fitness facilities. There was significant evidence that the intervention improved the accessibility level of the fitness facilities. The study results indicated a strong need for a national building code in Kuwait and the enforcement of existing disability legislation.
People with physical Disabilities