Zwift is fantastic, loved by millions of people all over the World and proving a lifeline for many during this current pandemic and series of lockdowns. It’s an online platform started in 2014 where people connect and join together from their living room in what Zwift describe as the number 1 app in the World for “riding, running, and training with your community.”
But you have to be able to use your legs to run or cycle as Zwift is only available for able bodied people.
This is of course a bit of issue for the 55 million plus wheelchair users in this World who’d love the opportunity to join.
To use Zwift it’s super easy, they explain how in three easy steps you can connect and join. You just need to ‘grab your bike’ and connect your trainer to Zwift. You can then join your friends, socialise and have fun competing with people from across the World.
For this superb experience you pay of course, the membership is £12.99 per month and they have grown to become a multi billion dollar company, recently publishing in September 2020 that they will be investing another $450 million into the platform to “develop the core software platform”. Yet no clear sign that they will become inclusive and welcome wheelchair users.
I have a set of rollers which I use daily from my wheelchair, yet I can only connect to Zwift if I pretend that I can run, but I lost my ability to run when I broke my back 20 years ago. Is this ignorance or discrimination, I’m not really sure!
It appears this issue is not new and has been brought to Zwift’s attention several times of many years. Looking through their official forum you can find many threads which highlight the issue and ask for wheelchair users and hand cyclists to be included.
“After all cycling is a very inclusive sport so lets get ZWIFT to reflect it!”
“Almost every sporting event, including mountain bike races I’ve attended IN THE 90s, had folks racing in wheelchairs. ZWIFT needs to do better here.”
“I have not used zwift yet because there is no handcycle avatar. Not interested in seeing an able bodied cyclist on the screen.”
So why have Zwift not made themselves inclusive and open to wheelchair users?
It does seem a little strange to say the least that Zwift does not want to be fully inclusive. Being diverse and open to all brings huge gains commercially let alone morally. Maybe they just don’t realise the true potential? Maybe wheelchair users don’t fit the brand image they want to portray? The reason wheelchair users cannot use the software is not clear.
Hopefully it’s just on the ‘to do list’ and something that is being worked on in the background. Time will tell but maybe one day wheelchair users will be able to join their friends and have fun via Zwift in a truly inclusive online World.
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