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Blind faith

September 4, 2012   |   Posted by Shaun McCarthy

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Are visually impaired people getting a good deal from London 2012? “Everybody’s Games” was one of the inspirational phrases used by London 2012 leaders and politicians throughout the London 2012 programme. My experience to date suggests that the experience for most disabled people has been great. At the wonderful rowing venue at Eton Dorney the other day I was stopped by a wheelchair user who was keen to tell me this has been the best Paralympics ever for “us wheelies”. He was a veteran of Beijing and Athens and spoke with such enthusiasm it made me proud to have played a very small part in supporting “everybody’s Games”. However, there seems to be a small wave of feedback from visually impaired and blind people that could suggest they are getting a raw deal. Last week I met Robert Johnson on the BBC’s In Touch programme. A visually impaired visitor to many Olympic venues, he told his tales of frustration at trying to get audio commentary, without malice and with genuine constructive criticism. Inspired by his words I went along to the Paralympic rowing venue at Eton Dorney and asked some volunteers about audio commentary. They did not know and radio …

Voluntary service

August 20, 2012   |   Posted by Shaun McCarthy

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I have great memories of the Beijing 2008 Games and in particular the way China welcomed the world with a smile. Everywhere you went you would see hundreds of members of the Chinese public, always willing to help, polite, happy, smiley. However some of them were not very well informed but I didn’t really care – they made you feel better about being lost. However, I suspect there was also a message about China’s arrival on the world stage. All the volunteers I met were aged 18-25, well educated, graduates or students and ethnically Han Chinese. There were no old people, no disabled people, no Muslims or Buddhists. This was a statement about China’s emerging middle class. At the time I expressed a desire that London could and should do better. In contrast to Beijing, London 2012 aimed to reflect the diversity of London and the wider UK in its volunteer force. The Olympic and Paralympic Games are a great opportunity to show off the rich diversity and inclusivity of our city and country. Of course, we won’t know the exact results against this target until after both Games have finished, but to the casual observer, the diversity of the …

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