Head of Centre for Accessible Environments (CAE), Fara Muneer, responds to the news that a Minister who uses wheelchair was denied entry to Cop26 venue:
With over 30,000 delegates attending Cop26 in Glasgow and hundreds of thousands more attending side events in the ‘green zone’, it was disappointing to hear that a disabled person faced barriers when attempting to enter the main venue where this high profile event was held.
If the correct policies and procedures are not in place to cater for all scenarios – allowing true inclusion – then even a place that thinks it is accessible can prove to be inaccessible.
Cop26 has the challenge of addressing not only climate issues, but also social equity. The UN itself has set Sustainable Development Goals that pledge to “leave no one behind”, and the dignity of an individual person, and equality among all, is the fundamental principle in line with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
This begs the question, why did organisers not consider how fully and equally disabled delegates and visitors could participate at the event? This should be an essential part of organising events where people gather, just as you would their dietary requirements.
It’s a sad fact that the lack of accessibility that Minister Elharrar experienced at Cop26 is multiplied many times over for disabled people every day – whether this is accessing services, travelling to work and even navigating their own homes.
It shouldn’t take an internationally embarrassing incident like this to make us pay attention. We should all be working hard to ensure that such barriers to access do not occur for any disabled person, anywhere.
By Fara Muneer, Head of Centre for Accessible Environments (CAE)