Lack of access will hit disabled fans’ enjoyment of Paralympics

The Paralympic Games start in just over two years’ time. However, many London Tube stations are still not accessible to wheelchair users.

The Paralympic Games start in just over two years’ time. However, many London Tube stations are still not accessible to wheelchair users. As any disabled person who has ever tried to get a lift installed anywhere knows, lifts cost money. A lot of money. So it is a shame, but not a surprise, to disabled people that six step free access schemes were deferred last year, saving £50 million.

London Underground says there are 61 step free, accessible stations in London but, as last night’s BBC News investigation showed, the lifts are too small for more than one person – especially since most wheelchair users would always need a carer with them on public transport.

As Steve Smith, the son of a long-term wheelchair user, told the BBC:

“The underground stations with ‘accessible lifts’ as you could see in the report are too small and not easily accessible for a disabled person and their luggage and any carers. God knows how they would feel if they suffered from claustrophobia!

“If they put proper lifts of a decent size in, they would be accessible to everyone who needs help accessing the underground – not just some of the disabled.”

A spokesperson for Transport for London told Left Foot Forward:

“We would like all stations to be step-free, but it costs a lot of money – a lot more than people think. There are 8,500 step-free buses, all black taxi drivers have ramps and drivers are trained to assist disabled people. All of the Docklands Light Railway stations have lifts.

“Disability is not only about people in wheelchairs – we now have announcements and hearing loops for those who are deaf and blind.”

Unfortunately for the Coalition Government, they are currently making massive spending cuts wherever possible – just when spending extra money on sport and access would have allowed the rest of the world to see London for the wonderful place it is.

Unfortunately for Paralympic athletes and their disabled fans, disabled people already feel that their services are at the top of the list of things to make cuts to. So while it is to be hoped that Tube stations will become more accessible in the next two years, disabled Tube users cannot be blamed for having their doubts.

It is to be hoped, however, that the Government will consider the fact that if and when Paralympic athletes and disabled fans are able to get around the city, they will spend just as much money as anyone else during London 2012 and will, in this way, contribute to our economy, just as Olympic athletes and their non disabled fans will.

53 Responses to “Lack of access will hit disabled fans’ enjoyment of Paralympics”

  1. Shamik Das

    #ConDemNation Coalition cuts will hit disabled fans’ enjoyment of Paralympics: //bit.ly/93JJQQ reports @samedifference1 @leftfootfwd

  2. Political Scrapbook

    RT @leftfootfwd: Coalition cuts will hit disabled fans’ enjoyment of Paralympics: //bit.ly/93JJQQ

  3. Old Holborn

    I await your proposal for the taxpayer to fund an escalator to the top of Ben Nevis.

    Also, can you please stop using the doubleplusgood term “non disabled”. It’s “able bodied”

  4. Old Holborn

    Will Straw demands tax payer funds a disabled access escalator to the top of Everest //bit.ly/9A5hwZ

  5. sarah

    I personally don’t mind the phrase ‘able bodied’ but some disabled people do. Wasn’t sure.

  6. allan sayers

    RT @leftfootfwd: Coalition cuts will hit disabled fans’ enjoyment of Paralympics: //bit.ly/93JJQQ

  7. Helen Copeland

    RT @leftfootfwd: Coalition cuts will hit disabled fans' enjoyment of Paralympics //bit.ly/93JJQQ

  8. Old Holborn

    Are you seriously suggesting that you know disabled people who are offended by term “able bodied”? Does the word “footpath” offend them if they have no feet?

    YE GODS, thank fuck you lot are not likely to ever hold office again

  9. Naomi Jacobs

    RT @hellycopeland: RT @leftfootfwd: Coalition cuts will hit disabled fans' enjoyment of Paralympics //bit.ly/93JJQQ

  10. Naomi

    RT @hellycopeland: RT @leftfootfwd: Coalition cuts will hit disabled fans' enjoyment of Paralympics //bit.ly/93JJQQ

  11. Lisa

    “I personally don’t mind the phrase ‘able bodied’ but some disabled people do. Wasn’t sure.”

    I get annoyed that people think the phrase “able-bodied” is the opposite of “disabled”. It’s not. There are a great many people who are both disabled AND able-bodied. Most people with mental health problems or learning difficulties are both disabled and able-bodied.

    I do use the phrase “able-bodied” to specifically mean the opposite of “physically impaired”. Like the time I tweeted about an able-bodied friend of mine changing a light bulb for me. She is disabled, but the fact that she’s also able-bodied is how she was able to change a light bulb for me.

    The opposite of “disabled” is “non-disabled”. In //lisybabe.blogspot.com/2009/12/december-3rd-international-day-of.html I looked at how “disabled” is all about disabling barriers. Some people who like to slam “political correctness” just cos the Daily Mail taught them that it’s a fun pastime grumble that “non-disabled” is a double negative. I s’pose you could also call non-disableds “enabled” seeing as how they are enabled by the absence of disabled barriers.

  12. Naomi

    Yes, many of us ARE offended by the term ‘non-disabled’. There are innumerable disabled people whose bodies are perfectly abled. They are those with learning difficulties and mental health problems. And some of them have extreme difficulties with using inaccessible transport in London, too. It’s polite to avoid creating hierarchies by including ALL disabled people in terminology relating to us.

  13. Naomi

    Apologies. It’s the phrase ABLE-BODIED that I object to. The phrase ‘non-disabled’ is the preferred phrase.

    I shouldn’t be commenting on blogs when I’m tired!

  14. Dominic Campbell

    @katiekatetweets @emercoleman @jaggeree speaking of @accesscity … //bit.ly/9A5hwZ

  15. Evidence based.

    It shows you how much of a cynical non story this is when the discussion turns to whether “able bodies” is a PC term. Presumably this was a cut that would escape Labour’s £44billion cull??

  16. NCPAD

    Interesting, Coalition cuts will hit disabled fans' enjoyment of Paralympics //bit.ly/93JJQQ

  17. Mary

    I’m not *offended* by ‘able bodied’ but I *prefer* ‘non disabled’, particularly in discussions centred on disability where it isn’t about the ‘able bodied’ perspective.

    It’s like how I’m not offended by being referred to as “Steve’s girlfriend” but I would prefer to be called “Mary”, especially if the discussion isn’t about him.

    As for Ben Nevis, it’s a natural feature and my life will not be any better or worse for getting to the top of it or not. Travelling around the man-made environment of the capital city of the country I live in is a rather different kettle of fish.

  18. sarah

    Well said, Mary. Thanks for your comments, all.

  19. Hitchin England

    Coalition cuts will hit disabled fans enjoyment of Paralympics: //bit.ly/93JJQQ via @leftfootfwd

  20. Old Holborn

    Your complete arrogance in demanding to dictate what I may call MYSELF so as not offend you is staggering.

    Secondly, you are outraged that London is not designed to cater for your every whim. It is not designed to cater for mine either even as an able bodied man. The difference is that you demand that I fix it for you, so it does cater for your every whim. Oh, and you want ME to pay for it as well.

    You want it, you pay for it. Get your hands out of my pockets

  21. Fenrir

    I am able bodied, I am not non-disabled.

  22. He's Spartacus

    Don’t worry about Old Holborn.

    He’s ‘armless enough, which sadly means he’ll probably never play the piano again.

  23. wonkotsane

    I’m neither disabled, nor able bodied so what label are you PC-obsessed wasters going to make up for me? I’ve walked about 3 or 4 miles today so not disabled but am now hardly able to stand up so so clearly not able bodied. So what am I allowed to call myself without offending you?

  24. SadButMadLad

    “There are 8,500 step-free buses, all black taxi drivers have ramps and drivers are trained to assist disabled people.”

    And these words explain why the cost of going all the way to ensure every single station has every single accessible method possible. There are already a lot of different options so there is no need to go 100% in converting stations to easy access. Yes a nice to have, but not a must have.

  25. Not necessary

    As an able bodied person with an aversion to alcoholics, itinerants, suits and vagrants I’d like private underground carriages with air conditioning, a mini-bar and dancing girls but someone would have to pay for it and since I am not prepared to pay for it I make do like most everyone else. Personal preferences could be extended ad infinitum; some of the people Naomi refers to with mental health problems would no doubt prefer lifts with a bright yellow hard hat and crayons but we all have to get along and learn that trying to make other people pay for our whims and fancies is selfish.

  26. Old Holborn

    I am thin. I await OUTRAGE because I am non fat

  27. Corrugated Soundbite

    “I shouldn’t be commenting on blogs when I’m tired!”

    Nor pissed.

    Don’t worry, it happens to this able bodied bloke a lot 😉

    *hic*

  28. Terence and Philip

    Forgive me if I’m wrong, my partner is disabled so I can only base this on personal experience.

    My partner qualifies for the “free bus travel” pass and can use all off-peak bus services in her area for free, if I presume that London runs a similar scheme (google suggests so), then as a disabled person she could either take any bus she likes which are mostly disabled friendly, or she could fuck about endlessly trying to get on the tube which is hard enough for “non-disabled” people like myself. Busses are friendlier, and it is easier to talk to bus drivers (no staff on tube normally).

    So since my partner would never want to go on the tube at peak times (nightmare), and can use the wheelchair friendly busses anywhere in the capital for free, you would be doubling up on expenditure for no real gains. The country doesn’t have the money so..?

    Straw junior is treating disabled people with contempt by trying to associate the tories with cuts. Same old labour

  29. albert hall

    WTF!!

  30. sarah

    not necessary- the difference between a mini bar and a medium sized lift is that without a mini bar you are still able to safely get on and off a Tube. Without a medium sized lift, many wheelchair users are finding it impossible to use Tubes. That, to me, makes medium sized lifts very necessary.

  31. Old Holborn

    Sarah, what plans do you have for people in Iron Lungs or Comas. Surely they have as much right as the rest of us to use the Tube?

    Yes, I’m expecting you to send me the bill

  32. Mark

    Most of this article is quite fair, except for its headline. The simple fact is that the slowdown in improving access to London’s Underground stations started well before the General Election. Boris Johnson, who is Chair of Transport for London, scaled back the step free programme some 18 months ago.

    For a bit more information on this subject I hope these links are useful:

    //www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00t3td5

    //shepherdsbush.wordpress.com/2010/02/03/s-bush-tube-disabled-access-deferred-indefinately-tfl/

  33. Erm

    Why pigeon-hole disabled fans with the Paralympics? Surely a story about disabled people using public transport at Games-time has just as much validity for the Olympic Games?

    To make the whole tube accessible is not an option smear so this Ian about cuts.

  34. Erm

    Why pigeon-hole disabled fans with the Paralympics?

    Surely a story about disabled people using public transport at Games-time has just as much validity for the Olympic Games?

    To make the whole tube accessible is not an option and never has been in time for 2012 – the Games should be a catalyst for what’s achievable (in transport that means things like longer DLR trains; upgrading stations etc).

  35. Fascist Hippy

    Buy me a pint , I’ve got earning difficulties!

  36. Chris

    From the article: Unfortunately for the Coalition Government, they are currently making massive spending cuts wherever possible – just when spending extra money on sport and access would have allowed the rest of the world to see London for the wonderful place it is.

    Slowly and carefully now, so that the thick kids can keep up: Blair and Broon ran out of taxpayers’ money shoring up their block votes in the unions and the North.

    There. Is. Nothing. Left. In. The. Pot. Certainly not for a couple of glorified sports days in 2012.

    Lisa wrote: I s’pose you could also call non-disableds “enabled” seeing as how they are enabled by the absence of disabled barriers.

    The word you’re fumbling vaguely towards is “capable”. dis-able cap-able.

  37. bob

    If the bus is already an option for the disabled, what’s the problem?

    You’re talking about a significant amount of money to provide an option that isn’t strictly necessary.

    Think about what else more worthwhile could be done with that money, I can probably think of hundreds of things more helpfull to the disabled.

    or that you could actually *not spend it* and cut that pesky deficit.

  38. killemallletgodsortemout

    “The trouble with Socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money”.

  39. Shamik Das

    Fair point about the headline; my fault, it’s been amended. The article does, however, raise important points about tha lack of access on the underground. The same is true of national rail.

  40. Graham Jones MP

    TfL also do not provide porters or any luggage transfer so if a disabled person is travelling without a carer, then they are unlikely or unable to use the Tube as TfL provide no assistance.

  41. Old Holborn

    Graham, porters and luggage transfers are available in London. They are called TAXIS. They will take you anywhere you want in London and are licensed.

  42. bob

    “The article does, however, raise important points about tha lack of access on the underground.”

    And again, if the bus routes are all accessable, why is it “important”, desirable yes, important?

    Being unable to properly assess the need for expenditure is why labour created such a mess.

    “The same is true of national rail.”

    No, not on the trains i use. Nor is this relevent to the article.

    “TfL also do not provide porters or any luggage transfer so if a disabled person is travelling without a carer, then they are unlikely or unable to use the Tube as TfL provide no assistance.”

    Can’t they just ask fellow travellers?

    No, of course not, because they are all potential theives, rapists and perverts.

  43. John Sullivan

    @Old Holborn
    Still troubled by the memories, wee man? No matter, yer mammy will kiss it better.

  44. Disabled Fans Could Boost Trade In 2012, Says Report « Same Difference

    […] agree with the findings of the report described in this article. I said something very similar in my post for Left Foot Forward last […]

  45. Mobility Roadshow

    Lack of access will hit disabled fans’ enjoyment of Paralympics: //t.co/ib6TPK1H

  46. Lilacwheelz

    Lack of access will hit disabled fans’ enjoyment of Paralympics: //t.co/ib6TPK1H

  47. Thomas Hemingford

    Lack of access will hit disabled fans’ enjoyment of Paralympics: //t.co/ib6TPK1H

  48. Kirst

    Lack of access will hit disabled fans’ enjoyment of Paralympics: //t.co/ib6TPK1H

  49. Johnny_wheelz

    Lack of access will hit disabled fans’ enjoyment of Paralympics: //t.co/ib6TPK1H

Leave a Reply