Paralympic stars advocate for accessibility equality in sports I Annual Salute to Women in Sports

Some of the world’s best Paralympic athletes, Oksana Masters, Scout Bassett and Alana Nichols join forces to inspire the next generation of adaptive sport athletes to carry the torch in the quest for accessibility equality in sports. Watch the full Women’s Sports Foundation's Annual Salute to Women in Sports presented by Yahoo Sports here.

Video Transcript

SCOUT BASSETT: People are largely unaware of so many of the struggles that people with disabilities face.

JOANNA NIEH: My parents were trying to find programs for me to do. I looked to able-bodied programs because then I would have more playing opportunities. And then, it was hard because they didn't want me because of my disability. They don't really tell you the real reasons why. They just make up some stuff. Because they just don't want you.

OKSANA MASTERS: There's been multiple times of experience, those moments where I realized the unfairness of Paralympic athlete, or an adapted athlete will have, in equal opportunities and rights to be a part of a sport.

ALANA NICHOLS: When I traveled internationally for the first time, and I quickly realized how lucky I was to have my own wheelchair, and my own basketball chair. People with disabilities aren't necessarily aware that they can play.

JOANNA NIEH: It felt good to compete with the other kids out there. I felt like everybody else.

OKSANA MASTERS: Every single Paralympic athlete, or adapted athlete needs to work twice as hard to prove themselves.

SCOUT BASSETT: Ableism really projects these ideas of whose bodies are valuable, and desirable, and important. We have to change the narrative of how we see people with disabilities.

OKSANA MASTERS: They're not seeing us as rowers, they're not seeing us as athletes, they're seeing us as people who have no legs, as people who are in wheelchairs, as people who are just doing it for the feel good side of it. And that wasn't why I was doing sport. I wanted to compete, and race, and push myself.

ALANA NICHOLS: What drives me to advocate for accessibility is the firm belief of the Women's Sports Foundation, that all women, all girls, should be able to play all sports.

JOANNA NIEH: I think the first step is for everyone to speak up, and voice their opinions.

ALANA NICHOLS: Everyone can be an ally and an advocate. If you see something wrong, if you see an inequality, speak up.

OKSANA MASTERS: Follow and support the Women's Sports Foundation, and take part in the equity project pledge they have.

SCOUT BASSETT: I really hope that people support and watch Paralympic sport.

OKSANA MASTERS: Seeing is believing. When you see something, you believe it's possible.

ALANA NICHOLS: People of all walks of life have the right to play, and have the right to participate in sport. And that should be barrier-free, especially for people with disabilities.