The organisation of physical and sport activities in the French Association of Paralyzed People: Between activities offering and decisional autonomy

Research papers
By Clément Gazza

In 2014, the National Directorate of the French Association of Paralyzed People stated its intend to facilitate disabled people’s access to physical and sport activities (PSA). In this association aiming at the “self-determination” (Wehmeyer & Sands, 1996), this objective appears paradoxical since it has not been claimed by the members and the users themselves. This article attemps to shed some light on the tensions between an intent to develop a range of activities on the one hand and the aim to respect the disabled people’s self-determination on the other. From a three-year participant observation, we show that employees and volunteers strive to introduce some self-determination within the development of PSAs, but they quickly meet with limitations. Sometimes in spite of themselves, they end up leading the organization of these activities. We interpret these tensions as an impossibility, for the associative actors (managers, professionals and voluntary carers), to ensure the disabled people’s self-determination when it is not stated from the beginning as an inescapable approach in the development of the PSAs.

  • APF France Handicap
  • physical and sport activities
  • self-determination
  • able-bodied person centrism
  • activities offering
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