London 2012 ‘provides unique chance to improve access in capital’


The 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games in London provide a “once in a lifetime opportunity” to improve access, inclusion and attitudes to disability, a conference has heard.

David Morris, who coordinates inclusion and access for LOCOG, the organising committee of the Games, told the Disability Capital event that 2012 was a chance to leave “a real legacy for generations to come”.

Morris, former senior disability policy adviser to the Mayor of London, said London in 2012 would see the largest ever number of disabled and Deaf people in any city at one time.

He told delegates to the event, organised by the Mayor: “There are going to be lots and lots and lots of us.”

But he said disabled people and organisations must “work together” and “maximise resources” and that it was vital not to be complacent.

He added: “I know we are not going to achieve 100 per cent of what is possible, but if we achieve 10 per cent it will leave a legacy.”

He highlighted issues such as the shortage of accessible hotel rooms in London and access on the tube network, and called on disabled people to complain when they are denied access to a restaurant.

Dan Biddle, who became disabled in the July 2005 London bombings and is now an access consultant for LOCOG, said there was a “once in a generation opportunity to create an inclusive London”.

He described visiting the tourist hotspot of Covent Garden to assess the access and encountering a series of barriers, including a lack of accessible parking spaces and drop kerbs, cobblestones, and “non-existent” signage and information and inaccessible shops in the piazza.

Chris Holmes, who won nine gold medals as a Paralympic swimmer, said the 2012 Games would be the first to have a “completely 100 per cent integrated” approach to planning and delivering the Paralympics and Olympics.

Holmes, LOCOG’s director of Paralympic integration, said the Paralympic Games had “equal status, thought, time and effort” put into them as the Olympics.

He said he wanted the public to know and understand Paralympic sports and stars before they see them live and on their televisions in 2012.

He added: “We want the Games to inspire every disabled young person across the country to take up sport.”

25 September 2009