Friday, 23 March 2007

Access at the 2010 Soccer World Cup

As a follow up to the last post, I am increasingly concerned about Access & Inclusive Design for the upcoming 2010 World Cup. Of course, I do have a vested interest in this, but I have noticed a worrying trend, the closer we get (and so the further behind plans become) to the event. Initally we were contacted by all manner of parties, who had been told that all the designs for the different Stadia (new, or refurbished) would have to be accessible. Indeed, several of the RFP's that went out dictated that a "Universal Design Consultant" had to be on the team. But we have seen that Access is being marginalised at best in many of the projects, and I fear it has been comletely forgotten for many projects.

One incident really brought this home to me. We had been engaged as "Universal Design Consultants" on one particular project connected with the 2010 event. I had attended several meetings, but I felt that my voice was not being heard, and most of the team had no real grasp of the ramifications of inclusve design. I was getting more & more frustrated at every meeting. Then a meeting was called (I ended up driving from Jo'burg to Cape Town in a hurry to attend). I arrived at the meeting place, only to find that the venue was completely inaccessible, and I could not even get to the meeting room. I managed to collar one person going in, to ask them to offer my apologies, but to point out that I had made the effort to attend the meeting, but this was a clear example of their overall view of accessibilty... That was the last time I was invited to a meeting with that team...

Aside from my own personal frustations, I do fear that the overall leaders of the 2010 World Cup are completely ignoring Access (as they are so far behind with many of the important projects). But I think (& hope!) that this approach will be unacceptable to FIFA, as many of the new facilities will be inaccessible to many people.

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