Thomas Williams - Disability Consultant: Insights



Following my previous article regarding the rather controversial views that the disabled (especially those in wheelchairs or with prosthetics) should undergo a more thorough and potentially invasive security screening process, in this article I will consider the practical implication.

I feel that we have to divide them into two groups; those who receive accreditation (I have recently applied for my Rio accreditation) and the general public who buy a ticket to spectate at the Games as it is arguably possible to be fore armed with more information about the person who receives accreditation and more in depth scrutiny is applied to this group as a matter of course as generally they will be gaining access to many non-public areas. To enter a Games site, however, all have to go through general screening every time they enter, therefore it still leaves a problem. In my last article, I implied that specialist training or a specialist area is required. I believe that there is a number of specifications for this area that need to be thought about. The area must be dignified and private, with sufficient numbers of staff to manually manoeuvre the wheelchair user out or assist the amputee, remain safe and comfortable, and then be scanned along with the chair or prosthetic and put back securely and comfortably. While a hoist may be appropriate, there are multiple varieties so this cannot be practically catered for unless sufficient prior questioning occurs. An entrant has a choice in my opinion, either be lifted, in line with UK ambulance service code of practice (or similar training), or have given prior notice about requirements. While this may take more time and appear to be discriminatory on the spectator, those with accreditation could be forewarned or should be at liberty to receive greater checks because of their privileged status. At London 2012, there was an “accredited person” lane that fast-tracked such people. If you are a disabled accredited person, should this lane be used? I believe that it is questionable because of potential risks.

In order to achieve an egalitarian approach, a number of procedures should be put in place. Firstly, if the disabled person can proceed through normal screening, they and any carer should continue as normal. Those unable to use the normal checking procedure should be taken to the disabled checking area, their carer being taken for separate checking and then escorted to ensure no information, device swaps or removals can occur. Once in the disabled checking areas, the procedure should be explained and following any necessary advice from the carer, prosthetics removed or person taken out of the wheelchair. The person can then be checked while the equipment is separately checked, remembering that the magnetometers cannot be used on any metallic equipment.

Secondly the people should have individually named and coded tickets or accreditation and the same scrutiny applied to accreditations as spectator tickets, ie, an individual possessing tickets is the individual in front of you. If you are disabled this should be identified at the time of purchase and forewarned that for own safety and in line with increased public threat, further assessment will be undertaken at the stadium. Then the above procedure (stadium screening) is also undertaken by holder.

In addition, there are problems with specialist equipment and medications being needed for the preservation of the health and comfort of the disabled person. A description or medical note from an accredited source (usually family doctor) along with photographic id and address to align the subject with the mediation/equipment gets over this problem. The speed of this may cause bottle necks, hence the need to separate them from the general populace.

This should all be encompassed in a newly created functional area by the IOC/IPC with a specialist disabled security team that contains medical professionals, communication liaisons, etc. It should be noted, however, that Rio is less than 100 days away and has little time to initiate any of these at this stage if they have not already considered them. Given that we are now little more than four years away from Tokyo, TOCOG should make sure that the disabled and their associated security threats are considered earlier rather than later.

In my next Digest article, I will be looking at some of the issues that may affect disabled business people who are trying to sell their services at major events. I have recently tried to work to engage with a trade mission in another country and have found it problematic. As disability is an important issue for OCOGs to consider, we will not be able to sell the importance of this growing market for all of our businesses (within the MEI community) if they are not exposed to it. More next time.


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