How Can Accessibility Be Improved?
Updated: Mar 25, 2019
Following the success of my previous blog post; “My Experience As A Disabled Football Fan” I thought it would be a good idea to follow up with how I think things can be improved.
Firstly, I think it is important to note that there is a lot more to accessibility than whether you can get into the building or not. The little things can make a big difference. For example, wheeling into a stadium and being directed straight to the disabled facilities leads to a much easier day compared to when we get faced with a clueless look from a steward (the staff not a family member of mine) when we ask where the disabled toilet is.
It makes the day so much easier for us when the stewards can direct us to the disabled facilities, because it saves us having to push through the concourse trying to find it for ourselves. Trust me when you’re at wheelchair height, going through crowds of people is not a pretty sight.
It costs nothing for a club to train their staff and make sure they know where all the facilities are, you’d think that this would be normal, but unfortunately it’s more likely that you get a steward who doesn’t know and has to go find out for you.
Building on this, a lot of clubs could improve their disabled facilities. Some of my best away day experiences have been at clubs who have updated facilities. Although I love being with the rest of the fans, sometimes it’s awkward to be in the concourse in a wheelchair, avoiding drinking people walking into you etc isn’t enjoyable. Some stadiums I have visited have a separate area for disabled fans which have the toilets, a separate bar or kiosk, which just makes it easier.
When you use disabled facilities in other public places such as shopping centres and cinemas you are met with a spacious fully equipped disabled toilet, with low sinks, changing benches and hoist. Most clubs only have a basic disabled toilet, how clubs get away with not having fully equipped facilities? Whilst this doesn’t affect me personally, I’m sure it would put other fans off going back to that stadium. Everyone should be able to go the toilet when at a football match, it is not an individual’s fault if they need more help to do so than the average person.
I’m aware improving facilities cost money, but football is a rich community. When you add up the broadcasting fees, ticket prices and sponsorships, clubs are rolling in an awful lot of money. It is only fair that some of that money is used to improve facilities for fans and that should include the disabled facilities.
Finally, I think the biggest issue is seating as stated in my previous blog post. A lot of clubs are failing to provide the required number of wheelchair spaces. Unfortunately, seating can be very limited, for some away matches if I don't buy my tickets the morning tickets are released I know I won't be able to go to that match.
Although there is a lot of room for improvement for accessibility at football matches, I absolutely love going to watch the mighty rams and it would take a lot to put me off going.
Thanks for reading! Alex.