Pan Am Games – Accessibility – 2 early reports
Report 1 (reported in GlobalNews)
Pan Am spectator with a disability finds challenges accessing event
A Pan Am spectator has complained to Pan Am Games organizers about his experience attending an event.
Joey Freeman said accessibility was the issue.
You must read the article for the full story – here are some of Freeman’s main points:
- no signs for accessible parking at the Pan Am Opening Ceremonies dress rehearsal at Rogers Centre.
- he found a spot on Windsor Street Freeman and walked to Rogers Centre
- asked a Pan Am volunteer for a disability access point and was directed to Gate 7, at the opposite end of the building.
- Finally, a third volunteer helped find the closest entrance and elevator and his seat.
- Getting back to the car was equally difficult.
Article by: Connie Economopoulos
My friend, Connie, is a wheelchair user like me. Connie went to school at the Universities of Toronto and Florida. Her degrees are in psychology and health sciences, with a specialization in rehabilitation counselling. She has also worked with people with workplace injuries.
(This article has been edited substantially, endeavouring to retain the meat)
I decided to go to the Pan Am gymnastics competition. I know it was just the first day of the Games but that is not a good excuse for the type of problems I saw. Regardless of whether these are Pan Am or ParaPan Am Games they should be accessible to everyone.
My trip started out with a special one hour early drop-off ride arranged with Pan Am para-transportation – a basic Wheeltrans bus, cosmetically jazzed up. The Wheeltrans driver was helpful and was even wearing a patriotic red T-shirt in sportsmanship spirit. When we arrived at the CNE (Canadian National Exhibition, Connie’s destination), the driver spent at least forty-five minutes trying to get his customers to the entrance of the Toronto Coliseum, inside the CNE, where the gymnastics event was taking place. Security would not allow the bus in. Finally a security official got on the bus herself to let us through the gates.
We still had a 20-minute walk to the Coliseum and we had to pass through one more level of security. I reached the security gate with my sister who is ambulatory. There were actually three security guards on hand who checked my sister’s handbag and frisked her over while ignoring me and my wheelchair!
This time, I felt they were still not doing a good job. They ignored me and my wheelchair which could have been jam-packed with all kinds of evil things. The road to the Coliseum was long and bumpy and had several speed bumps. We finally arrived at least 15 minutes late. The accessible seats were carefully tucked away in an upper level. I have a visual impairment and tried to catch the action on a jumbo screen nearby. However, it was partially obscured by railings and flags. Below is a picture
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of those flags.
Another obvious obstacle concerned the snack bar right behind the wheelchair accessible row. The bar counter was only accessible to people who could stand. The counter did not have any lower section to allow wheelchair users to be served individually.
When the event was over, we had to wait downstairs for our return ride which was again late. Guess what? Security had again blocked the wheel trans bus.
The Games have a long way to go and many days left. My suggestions for improving the situation:
· Wheeltrans should be given some kind of automatic clearance. Once the first entry in authorised (maybe through licence plates, driver ID, whatever works)
· Security should be effective and thorough, but not officious and amateurish
· The Games Organisers must do a trial run of each venue, in order that everyone with different abilities can enjoy the Games and not go home traumatised.
Thus far, the experience of the early birds has not been satisfactory. I read somewhere that 40% of the tickets remain unsold. If they want to sell more tickets, the customer experience needs to be vastly better.