Zwift has confirmed it will add Adaptive Athlete Representation to the platform in the future, after partnering with the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF) to conduct research into disabled athlete accessibility, inclusion and representation, according to a report by Christopher Schwenker (opens in new tab)on Cyclingnews.
Despite not committing to a specific release date, Zwift's research has focussed on all types of disabilities alongside hand cyclists, such as visual impairment, to determine how all adaptive athletes would use the platform.
Zwift's research has shown true-to-life equipment and avatar integration is essential for representation, with hand cycles, trikes and amputee avatar customisation also all needed within the app to make the product a success. With increased numbers of adaptive athletes exclusively using virtual platforms like Zwift for reasons of safety and security, the giant is facing increased calls for inclusion.
In response, Zwift said to Cyclingnews: "Our DEIB [Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging] approach is to focus on impact at scale – ensuring that we prioritise those things that will impact the most people.
"We recently completed a large research study looking at the needs of athletes with disabilities, particularly those already in the Zwift community. The research study focused not only on hand cyclists but all types of disability to give us a better understanding of how to best tackle this area in the most equitable way possible – for all types of disability.
"The CAF was an instrumental partner in this first phase of research, and are one of our major Social Impact partners. The results of this study will ultimately help us form the product solution which is currently being discussed."
Zwift also recognises that implementing this feature is taking time, especially when considering virtual bike training platform RGT Cycling has already included disabled athletes into its cycling world. However, Zwift also realises that understanding everyone's needs is essential in delivering the best product possible and representing adaptive athletes successfully.
"We know that progress on this area has been slower than many would like. There are many vocal supporters of this movement at Zwift HQ and we hope that the product solution, when ready, will help improve the accessibility and representation for many more people on Zwift.
"We aim to improve accessibility and inclusiveness for the most people with the biggest DEIB impact. This work is focused on many different areas, including localisation because we believe accessibility promotes inclusivity."
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Ryan is a staff writer for Cycling Weekly, having joined the team in September 2021. He first joined Future in December 2020, working across FourFourTwo, Golf Monthly, Rugby World and Advnture's websites, before making his way to cycling. After graduating from Cardiff University with a degree in Journalism and Communications, Ryan earned a NCTJ qualification to further develop as a writer.
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