Eli Wolff, Mary Hums and Ted Fay reflect on whether London 2012 will lead to a greater inclusion of persons with disabilities
"The practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practising sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play." - Fundamental Principles of Olympism, Olympic Charter
London 2012 highlighting the right to sport for all
The London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games will showcase the athleticism and athletic performances of elite athletes with disabilities and also highlight the rights of people with disabilities to engage in sports and to achieve their athletic potential in the sporting environment. The London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games will also serve as a vehicle to further recognise and value the inclusion and integration of individuals with disabilities into all aspects of sport and within all realms of society.
Part of the Olympic experience
The London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games reflect the "two Games, one Movement" framework of linking and connecting individuals with and without disabilities through the power of sport. As a result of being part of this experience, it is hoped that the 2012 Paralympians will begin to achieve a status of being seen as "within, not beside" their Olympic counterparts.
The London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games move us toward a Universal Design lens to see the design of places, things, information, communication and policy needs to be usable by the widest range of people operating in the widest range of situations without special or separate design.
Breaking down stereotypes and bringing equality
Athletes with disabilities competing in the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games are breaking down societal barriers, stigmas and stereotypes and will help foster a broader paradigm shift to see individuals with disabilities from the perspective of inclusion and equality and not from the perspective of pity and charity. Athletes with disabilities will help to foster empowerment and social change for individuals with and without disabilities throughout the world.
Inspiring a better world through sport
Involvement by athletes, coaches, and managers in the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games also has the potential to inspire a greater awareness, understanding, and commitment for building inclusive and equitable communities. The London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games will challenge us to think about how we can make the world a better place. The power of sport will engage many to give back and to work toward building the next generation of leaders on and off the field.
"The goal of Olympism is to place sport at the service of the harmonious development of humankind, with a view to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity."
- Fundamental Principles of Olympism, Olympic Charter
Will one of the legacies of London 2012 be a stimulus for even greater inclusion for individuals with disabilities both in society and in sport that resonates a "within, not beside" paradigm shift in both philosophy, values and action that is truly reflective of the concept of universal design and access for all?