Discrimination claims hit build-up to Paralympic Games
ORGANISERS of the Paralympic Games have been accused of discriminating against the disabled by making wheelchair users book tickets for events via business rate phone lines.
Those trying to book wheelchair tickets or check their availability can only do so by calling an 0844 number – costing up to 41p a minute – while able-bodied people can buy their tickets online from organiser Locog without incurring extra costs.
The arrangements have caused outrage among some disabled people who say they have been kept on hold for long periods of time running up large bills before being told there are no seats available.
Among those who are unhappy is Nottingham wheelchair user Sarah Bard, 32, who said she called the hotline from her mobile phone six times and was put on hold for up to 15 minutes each time. She has now given up attempting to buy tickets. Ms Bard said: “It is discriminatory towards the disabled.
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“My able-bodied friends can go online and check availability, see when the latest seats become available and buy them with no added charges.
“Wheelchair users, meanwhile, get left with only one option and that costs us extra money.”
A Facebook campaign group called “Stop the Olympics from discriminating against wheelchair users!” has more than 800 members.
The London 2012 website has a specific section for disabled people wanting to buy tickets to the Paralympics, which start on Wednesday.
According to communications regulator Ofcom, 0844 calls are charged between 1p and 13p per minute for landline customers. Calls from mobile phones are charged between 15p and 41p per minute.
Locog, the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, says it has created a ticketing process which is “inclusive and accessible”.
A spokeswoman said: “All spectators were able to apply for tickets online for more than a year. From November, we provided a phone line to ensure customers could discuss their individual accessibility needs. We are proud to do more for spectators with accessibility needs than any other sporting event.
“We offer free Games mobility scooters at Games venues, free blue-badge parking, and a free companion seat for every wheelchair space.”