Rebecca Foster MBE (University of Worcester, UK)

What a great privilege to be in Tokyo ahead of the Paralympic Games and also presenting at the House of Councillors alongside other UK academics as part of an ESRC grant.  It was wonderful walking around the city and noticing small pieces of marketing about the Games. Sponsors are starting to include photos of people with disabilities in their advertising campaigns, as this was not as evident before Japan won the Games.  Most pavements have sensory pathways and some consideration has been given to accessibility on public transport, but there remains a distinct lack of general disability awareness.  These outwardly facing changes, although small, were present and encouraging but it became clear to me the disabled voice is still not as vocal as it should/could be.  

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Here is a photo of a sensory path just outside the entrance to the Olympics/ Paralympics rowing facility at Sea Forest Waterway, Tokyo.  Notice that there are no curbs as well as a clearly indicated route highlighted in yellow, sometimes the sensory paths are too close to the side of the road but this is better situated. However, not all areas are as readily accessible, which is a potential concern for the amount of people who may have a visual impairment that may descend upon Tokyo.

A great eye-opening visit ahead of what is hoped to be an amazing Games. Let’s hope all communities can access and enjoy it on equal terms.

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