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Boy’s Wheelchair Access At Commonwealth Games ‘An Afterthought’

August 8, 2022

A mother has hit out at poor wheelchair access after her disabled son was barely able to see a basketball match at the Commonwealth Games.

Amy Ryan branded access an “afterthought” after her son Bobby was unable to watch the 3×3 basketball at Birmingham’s Smithfield venue because court-side railings were too high.

The six-year-old was pictured craning his neck to try and watch it.

Games organisers said it was the first to have a dedicated accessibility team.

Ms Ryan, from Sutton Coldfield, was attending the event on Monday with her partner Robert Sproston and two children, Bobby, who has had a spinal injury since birth, and seven-year-old Leo who has cerebral palsy and a brain injury and uses an electric wheelchair.

The viewing area for those using wheelchairs at the venue was at ground level behind railings and Ms Ryan said it was too high for Bobby. Leo’s electric wheelchair meant he was higher up and able to watch the event.

Stewards gave them two giant foam hands for Bobby to sit on but he still had to pull himself up to the railings to try and see the competition.

He ended up sitting on his mother’s lap for the three-hour match which she said “was not ideal” for her.

“I checked that my tickets were for accessibility seating, because you often have to do that to know it’s going to be alright,” she said.

“I couldn’t really get through to anyone to check and I thought it was a big event, it can’t go wrong, but it did.”

Ms Ryan’s photos of her son trying to view the basketball were spotted online by Helene Raynsford, Chair of the Paralympics GB Athletes’ Commission who shared it on social media.

She said it was a situation she had faced herself and called for change.

British Paralympian Tully Kearney MBE, who has volunteered at the Games, has previously said she was disappointed by the accessibility of venues and parking for people with disabilities.

Ms Ryan said it was a common issue.

“This happens all the time at big events, access is an afterthought,” she said. “They need to consult parents and wheelchair users more.

“It’s not easy to go out with two disabled children and it’s disheartening to think my children are going to face this for the rest of their lives.”

Games organisers have since contacted Ms Ryan to say they were aware of her issues and appreciated her raising her concerns. She has been offered free tickets to an event of her choice.

A spokesman said: “Our Games is the first to have a dedicated accessibility team and we have also worked with our Accessibility Advisory Forum to provide feedback to us in planning.

“We work with our venues to continually improve the experience for everyone, and we would encourage spectators to speak to our team to see how we can enhance their visit.”

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