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The London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics ‘accessible to all’ – except the disabled

  • Written by Steven Lumley

The London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics ‘accessible to all’ – except the disabled The 2012 Olympics and Paralympics being held in London next year have had hundreds of millions of pounds thrown at them for infrastructure projects but not enough to enable disabled people to actually get there.

 

And yet, ironically, the Games are meant to be the most accessible ever!

 

The biggest issue for disabled people using public transport to get to the Games is the Tube – with around 80 per cent of stations being inaccessible to the disabled - including some serving Olympic venues.

 

So we face the incredible prospect that athletes for the Paralympics can’t actually get to their sporting venues without massive detours and help to avoid stations which are unsuitable (including some nearest the places where they are meant to compete).

 

The issue comes from campaign group Transport for All, which also claims there are issues with disabled people using buses to get the events too.

 

The group says that this is a golden moment to improve public transport access for all disabilities.

 

But rather than leaving a legacy that could transform the lives of tens of thousands of disabled people across London, campaigners say that 2012 could be an embarrassment.

 

If you are planning on visiting the Olympics or the Paralympics then visit inclusivelondon.com and figure out where the nearest tube stations are in relation to the events – but be prepared for a walk to some of the venues.

 

It’s nothing new for disabled people having to put a lot of planning into what should be a relatively simple journey – and Transport for All would, it appears, have a good case which deserves support. 

 

This comes after what has been a torrid time for Transport for London (TfL) lately what with their cutting targets of making bus stops accessible and stations step-free, and of cutting staff who will be desperately needed by disabled people to access and exit tube stations. 

 

In addition, TfL have also been accused of breaking the law, following the emergence of an internal email instructing staff not to send "VIPs" – visually impaired people – to Victoria station during evening peak hours due to refurbishments for the next few weeks.

 

This brought a strong rebuke from the Royal London Society for Blind People, which has its headquarters near the station, and they pointed to the legal obligations under the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA).

 

TfL say there are 63 tube stations with step-free access, with two more due to be ready by the time the Games arrive, and there is a network of 8,500 low-floor buses fitted with wheelchair ramps and onboard visual and audio announcements – the most accessible network in the country. 

 

And yet it just doesn’t seem to be enough. You can’t trumpet that the Games are the most accessible ever and find that when the claim is put to the test it’s found to be lacking.

 

Reduced Mobility Rights supports Transport for All (Opens new window - go to Olympic and Paralympic venues)

 

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