A team of volunteers from Queen Elizabeth's Foundation for Disabled People (QEF) are gathering views on accessibility issues from visitors to The Championships, Wimbledon to help to ensure that it serves up a friendly experience for wheelchair users and other people with disabilities.
Busy sports events can be tricky to negotiate for people with disabilities, but disability charity QEF has formed a strong partnership with the All England Lawn Tennis Club to advise where there may be challenges for visitors. The accessibility experts from QEF have carried out hawk-eyed surveys and brought along clients of its services who are wheelchair users to check how measures aimed at improving the experience for disabled people work in practice during the busy Championship Fortnight.
Based on QEF's recommendations, the AELTC has implemented several major changes this year including improved routes for wheelchair users, maps and guides that display these routes, improvements to seating and viewing areas, and crucially, a new ‘Changing Places' toilet facility. Changing Places toilets offer additional facilities to standard accessible toilets, including space for carers to provide assistance, and hoist equipment on the ceiling for people to use to transfer from wheelchairs, to increase safety and comfort.
QEF's focus at this year's Championship Fortnight will be on evaluating how well these changes are implemented, and the difference they make to a visitor's experience, and seeing whether there are further opportunities for improvements.
Matthew Crawcour, head of championships operations at The All England Lawn Tennis Club, said:
"The All England Club seeks to offer the best possible experience for all of our guests at The Championships, including spectators who have accessibility needs. Our partnership with Queen Elizabeth's Foundation for Disabled People ensures we are receiving industry-leading advice and feedback on our accessibility facilities as we work to improve them every year."