UK-inspired European standard will improve match experience for disabled football fans across Europe

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stamford-bridgeThe UK has been the driving force in successfully getting a European standard on provision for spectators with disabilities in football stadia adopted through organisations like the Football Licencing Authority (FLA), the National Association of Disabled Supporters (NADS), the Football Foundation and the Foundation’s sister organisation, the Football Stadia Improvement Fund (FSIF).

In May 2002 the FSIF and FLA each provided £25,000 to fund research, which led to the publication of a document called Accessible Stadia. These comprehensive disability-friendly guidelines then went on to be referred to as the appropriate standard for stadia under Part M of the Building Regulations.

Jim Froggatt, who had worked on the British standardisation with the FSIF and other interested organisations, then introduced it to the CEN Committee on which he represented the BSI.

Steve Shipperley, Head of Technical Services at the Football Foundation, said: “The initial idea for Accessible Stadia was born from a simple but recurring complaint from supporters in wheelchairs that they were never able to see key moments of action such as goals and penalties because, as the excitement mounted, everyone in front of them stood up.

“The concept of a ‘super-riser’, or large step, in front of all wheelchair positions was seen as the solution, but the problem was how to communicate it to stadia designers, owners, managers, etc.

“The ensuing need for guidance evolved considerably into a comprehensive document covering all disabilities including ambulant disabled and people with sensory disabilities, and not just from an infrastructure perspective but the management of their specialist facilities and the need for all grounds to have an access audit.

“I am delighted that the influence of Accessible Stadia has spread beyond our shores.”

British Standards expert Jim Froggatt said: “I believe it reflects great credit on the UK Football Authorities for being the first within Europe to help achieve pan-European guidance on this issue.

“It will hopefully help disabled supporters all over Europe to enjoy a better and just experience of the game. There are a number of organisations that deserve credit.

The FSIF’s funding and support for the Accessible Stadia document, as well as the FLA for allowing me the opportunities to pursue this vital work when I was part of the FLA. But also the tremendous contribution of NADS working with the Football Authorities where we at long last were able to listen and act on valid issues.”

Joyce Cook, Chair of NADS and MD of CAFE, said: “This is a hugely significant document and the fact that it has been ratified by the 30 EU members of CEN is a tremendous achievement. The timing is perfect with the recent launch of the new European wide charity, the Centre for Access to Football in Europe (CAFE).”

David Bernstein, Chairman of CAFÉ, added “This new report sets a standard for all European stadia. CAFE would like to thank Jim and his colleagues for producing this important report. We look forward to working with the European football community in ensuring that equal access for our disabled fans becomes a reality.”

The Accessible Stadia document is available to buy from the Football Licensing Authority (FLA) – visit http://www.flaweb.org.uk/docs/ publications/pubs/acssstad.php.

For more information contact Rory Carroll on 0845 345 4555 ext. 4280 or rory.carroll@footballfoundation.org.uk or visit www.footballfoundation.org.uk.  For more information on CAFÉ visit www.cafefootball.eu.

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