Global Accessibility Awareness Day

Global Accessibility Awareness Day is hosted every May by the GAAD Foundation. The purpose of GAAD is to get everyone talking, thinking and learning about digital access and inclusion, and the more than one billion disabled people. The event grows year on year since being launched in 2021. 

Jane Cooper, a trustee of the Community Trust, outlined some of the work that the Trust does in order to promote accessibility in and around the stadium on matchdays and beyond. 

She said: “It matters to me personally; I have a disabled daughter, so accessibility really matters to me. I am extremely passionate about ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to enjoy all that the Trust and the club offer. 

“Around one in five people who come to watch football have some form of accessibility requirement so it’s a large group of people whose needs are important to be considered.”

Jane explained what the club and Trust do in order to promote accessibility. “Sometimes I don’t think people realise how much we actually do at the Trust and club,”  she said. 

“Some examples of things we do are the BSL sign language we have on the screen on matchdays, which was publicised massively as we were the first club in the country to provide this. 

“We also provide commentary during the matches for fans who are blind or partially sighted. 

“We offer lots of different disabled viewing areas which provides wheelchair users with plenty of options to watch the football on a matchday. 

“A lot of stadiums across the country only have one or two designated areas for wheelchair users to watch the games so this is something we’re immensely proud of.” 

She also touched on the Changing Places facility that the stadium offers, saying: “We were only the second club in the country to get a Changing Places toilet. 

“Over a quarter of a million people require a Changing Places facility and without it, they face only going out for a short time or being changed on a public toilet floor. 

“We’re very passionate about this and believe everyone football club should have one of these facilities if possible.” 

Finally, she touched on future plans the Trust have to continue to improve their accessibility. 

She said: “We have lots of plans here at the Trust to improve what we do and we’re always looking for ways to make things better. 

“We’re currently looking to raise funds for a sensory hub at the stadium which will provide a much-needed space for people with autism to retreat and reconnect with their environment on matchdays. 

“We also want to create a sensory viewing area of the pitch which can be used on matchdays. 

“Our aim is to be as welcoming and inclusive as we can so that everyone is able to enjoy all that the Trust and the club have to offer.”