With the Commonwealth Games less than 100 days away, Able Magazine was invited to tour some of the key venues. Since Able is based in Glasgow, we’ve taken a special interest in the preparations, looking at everything from the parasport element of the integrated schedule, through to the accessibility and facility of the venues.
Along with Able Magazine, representatives from Whizz-Kidz, the charity for disabled children and Euan’s Guide, the accessibility review website were able to see for themselves how Glasgow 2014 will be a Games for everyone.
Euan’s Guide is a relatively new website set up specifically to give disabled people a way of sharing their view on the attractions and public places that have the best accessibility and facilities. Because it’s written by disabled people, for disabled people, care is taken to focus on the little details that make all the difference. Even though the website only went live in November, it’s already got hundreds of reviews pointing out what’s good and bad about places. It’s a great tool for providing disabled people with a brief summary of the facts, rather than having to rely on an attraction’s interpretation of the word ‘accessible’. Nobody likes a nasty surprise, so it’s well worth looking them up before you set off.
Perhaps the perfect partner on our tour was a group from ‘Whizz-Kidz’. The young people on the tour were all highly passionate about inclusion and were able to use their real life experiences to appraise and advise not only through websites like Euan’s Guide but also to the venue managers in person, who were taking us round. Again, it was the small details that the Whizz-Kidz were able to identify that might otherwise have been all-but invisible to anyone else. For instance, although the Emirates Arena has a superbly positioned wheelchair viewing platform, it was obvious to the young wheelchair users that the (necessary) toughened safety glass in front of them was a bit too dark and would soon get dirty with finger marks, potentially interfering with a clear view of the action.
On the whole, everyone appeared to agree that the viewing areas in the venues we visited (Emirates Arena, Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome, Tollcross Swimming Pool and the SSE Hydro) were going to be amongst the best places to watch the sport from. Not only that but facilities such as accessible toilets and particularly at the Tollcross Swimming Pool, the high dependency changing area were out of the top drawer. (These will, of course, also provide a superb legacy after the Games are finished.)
Empty venues can only tell you so much. It was a strange feeling to walk around desolate seating knowing that the next time we experience them they’ll be thousands of cheering fans. If you do have tickets for the Commonwealth Games this summer, it’s clear that you’re going to have a great time but it’s still worth checking before you travel regarding parking, facilities and regulations.