Disability News Service was – almost certainly – the only specialist disability news organisation reporting from the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
From the first story in September 2009 – reporting on claims that the Games provided a “once in a lifetime opportunity” to improve access, inclusion and attitudes to disability – DNS has now written more than 100 news stories about London 2012.
There was the announcement in January 2010 that Channel 4 had won the rights to broadcast the Games in the UK, there were the months of protests over the sponsorship of London 2012 by the much-criticised company Atos, and a string of stories about access successes and failures, both at the Games itself and across the capital.
There were disappointments – the damp squib of the Paralympic torch relay and the shortage of severely-impaired swimmers in the British team – and there were campaigning successes, with Royal Mail backing down and agreeing to produce individual stamps for every British gold medal-winner, and several Paralympians speaking out about how they couldn’t have achieved what they did without disability benefits.
Most of all, of course, there were the Games themselves, with the golden successes of Paralympians such as David Weir, Natasha Baker and Danielle Brown; Stephen Hawking, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Spasticus Autisticus and Alison Lapper Pregnant at the opening ceremony; and the gloriously accessible stadiums and Olympic Park, mostly thanks to the Olympic Delivery Authority taking consultation with disabled people seriously.
Below are some of my favourite London 2012 stories, but to find more just put “London 2012” into the search engine.
John Pring, editor, Disability News Service
Paralympian warns DLA cuts could ‘jeopardise independence’
Disabled people’s independence could be jeopardised by the government’s planned cuts to disability benefits, according to a leading Paralympian. 19 July 2012
Paralympians need a disability rights education, says Tanni
Britain’s best-known Paralympian has suggested that more should be done to “educate” the country’s elite disabled athletes about some of the real-life challenges facing other disabled people. Baroness [Tanni] Grey-Thompson, who has played a leading role in the Lords in the fight to reverse government cuts to disability benefits, said she feared an opportunity was being missed for Paralympians to use their profile at the London 2012 Paralympics to promote a disability rights agenda. 7 March 2012
COMMENT: Zip wires, Stephen Hawking and flying Paralympians
Any ceremony that begins with Mat Fraser and a microphone is ok with me. “Tonight, ladies and gentlemen, we are making history, as the Paralympics are coming home.” He had the crowd eating out of his hands within seconds. Please let this mean more MF on our TV screens soon. 30 August 2012
Channel 4’s 2012 launch: Paralympics to be ‘biggest event’ in C4 history
Channel 4 says it wants to make its wall-to-wall coverage of the London 2012 Paralympics the “biggest event” in its history. 9 August 2010
Golden Paralympian says ‘I couldn’t have done it without DLA’
A British Paralympian has spoken of the crucial contribution disability living allowance (DLA) has made to her independence, and to her gold-medal-winning performance at London 2012. 8 September 2012
Deaf star calls LOCOG ‘cowardly and immature’ over access complaints
A leading Deaf performer has called London 2012 “cowardly” and “immature” for ignoring his complaints about the lack of accessibility for Deaf visitors to the Paralympic Games. 6 September 2012
US govt advisor says Paralympics can help on DLA fight and inclusive schools
A senior US government advisor has suggested that the London 2012 Paralympics could help disabled people in their fight against the UK government’s cuts to disability benefits and its opposition to inclusive education. 6 September 2012
COMMENT: Putting their bodies on the line for precious metal
If it didn’t quite match Team GB’s Super Saturday in terms of precious metal, the third day of competition demonstratedwhat Britain’s Paralympians will put their bodies through for a chance to win a medal. 2 September 2012
Colbourne and Storey kick-start GB’s medal machine
Cyclist Mark Colbourne has spoken of the “quite breathtaking” experience of winning Britain’s first medal at the London 2012 Paralympic Games in a packed Velodrome. 30 August 2012
Marathon efforts of Weir and Woods bring home final medals
David Weir helped carry the British flag at the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Paralympics on Sunday, hours after another astonishing performance to win gold in the T54 marathon, a race he described as his “toughest” yet. 9 September 2012
Trio tell new minister that coalition is jeopardising London 2012 legacy
The new minister for disabled people has been told by a disabled activist, a disabled peer and a Paralympic torch-bearer that her government is jeopardising the legacy from this summer’s Paralympic Games. 18 October 2012