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CAFE launches survey for non-visibly disabled people

CAFE has launched a survey to gain a better understanding of the typical matchday experiences of non-visibly disabled people, and address some of the issues faced in attending live football matches.

Since 2009, Level Playing Field sister organisation CAFE has worked with stakeholders across the football and disability industries to promote wider inclusion for all disabled people.

With over one billion disabled people alive globally today, disabled people are the world’s largest minority group yet also one of the most underrepresented within society.

Public understanding of disability has often centred around visible disabilities and removing physical barriers within society that effectively ‘disable’ people. With the further development of accessible services such as sensory viewing rooms, there has been some promising changes working to make football matches accessible for all differently disabled fans.

In October 2019, CAFE established an expert working group representing many different non-visible disabilities. The group intends to create dedicated guidance for football stakeholders to refer to and learn from, and has developed this survey alongside CAFE. You can find out more about some of the members of the expert working group here.

The survey aims to discover which accessible matchday services and facilities would benefit non-visibly disabled people, identify any other matchday barriers faced by non-visibly disabled people, and consider appropriate and most beneficial ticketing and seating categories.

Non-visible disability is a broad umbrella term that may encompass many differently disabled people. This could include, but would not be limited to:

  • Intellectually or learning disabled people
  • Neurodivergent people e.g. autism, sensory processing disability, ADHD, Tourette’s, dyslexia, dyspraxia
  • People with neurological conditions, e.g. dementia, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis
  • People with mental health issues e.g. depression, bipolar, schizophrenia
  • People with long-term health conditions
  • Other non-visibly disabled people / people with long-term health conditions e.g. endometriosis, inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes, chronic pain, rheumatoid arthritis, breathing / heart condition

It is also important to stress that a growing number of people have multiple disabilities, which could also include a non-visible disability. For example, a wheelchair user or person with limited mobility who has dementia would encounter different barriers relating to each of their access requirements.

CAFE Research Officer Isobel Robins, who is leading the research project, said:

“CAFE is committed to a pan-disability approach to access and inclusion, and the non-visible disability project and expert working group will play an important part in our further works in this area”.

If you consider yourself to have a non-visible disability, or if you are a companion to a non-visibly disabled person, please take part in the survey here. A Word document version is also available here.

The survey will be open until 18:00 CET on 15 May 2020.

If you have any questions around the survey or the expert working group, please email CAFE at or call +44 (0)208 065 5108.