Inclusive fitness equipment Research Report

Going to the gym or using exercise equipment at home is simply part of a daily routine for many people, but locking-in this routine isn’t as easy for everyone. A huge amount of modern fitness equipment just isn’t accessible for those with a visual impairment, as a new report has demonstrated.

The study, ‘Inclusive fitness equipment for people with a visual impairment’, was commissioned by sight loss charity Thomas Pocklington Trust and carried out by Rica (the Research Institute for Consumer Affairs). It showed the prevalence of console systems that are partially or entirely unusable to people with a visual impairment, despite a widespread desire among this group stay physically active.

Key findings of the research;
• LED consoles that feature tactile buttons and a fixed display are moderately more accessible than touchscreen consoles
• There is an urgent need for voice-over technology to ensure fitness equipment is accessible for visually impaired users
• Participants reported that use of cardio fitness equipment led to an improvement in their everyday fitness and mental health
• Accessing fitness equipment is challenging for visually impaired users due to the built environment and issues with customer service and communication
• Barriers to the development of inclusive fitness equipment include: cost, industry culture, a lack of awareness of visually impaired users’ experiences and an over-reliance on IFI standards to ensure products are accessible

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