Paralympics ‘has not changed the world for disabled people’

November 9th, 2012 Category: Building Management

Now the hype of the Olympics and the Paralympics is over, the question is left hanging in the air of whether the Games have changed attitudes towards disabled people in the UK.

Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson – a Paralympic champion who has claimed 16 medals in wheelchair racing – has suggested that they have not.

Despite a whirlwind of support and media coverage for all disabled athletes who took part in this year's competitions, Ms Grey-Thompson would like to see new evidence of a changed approach to handicapped individuals.

Writing in the Telegraph, she said: "[This summer] there was a new recognition of Paralympians being good athletes. Suddenly it felt that those barriers were being knocked down."

However, she added that the Games also ignited expectations among disabled people that they might be treated differently in future as many people promised to alter their attitudes.

The former Paralympian claimed this has not happened and as a result, it is all the more disappointing for people with disabilities who find they are unable to enter meetings or events, so employers should aim to minimise this frustration by providing good disabled access to their premises.

A number of disabled athletes became household names by the end of this year's games, including South African runner Oscar 'Blade Runner' Pistorius who ran in the men's 100-metre final and Team GB swimmer Ellie Simmonds.

While this is all well and good, Ms Grey-Thompson argues, life will always be different for disabled people as it is difficult to be spontaneous.

Indeed, not until 2020 will it become compulsory for the rail industry to make fleets fully accessible for those who are handicapped.

Therefore, it would seem that although the nation was brimming with support for all athletes involved in London's Paralympic Games, it takes more than a few cheers to signify a change in attitude.

Ms Grey-Thompson concluded: "Legacy is a philosophical discussion but language is the dress of thought. Equality is not a tick-box exercise, there has to be substance beneath it."