Yesterday saw the closing ceremony of the 2008 Paralympics. Team GB have done brilliantly, coming second over all with 202 medals, 42 of them being golds. Congratulations to them all!
But here’s my ramble. Where were all the blind athletes? There seemed to be very few of them and the ones who were there got very little air time.
Admittedly the blind football team didn’t do very well, but search as we might, we couldn’t find any reports on their games on the Paralympics web site last night. Aileen McGlynn won two golds on the tandem but I don’t remember seeing her interviewed once. I believe there was also a VI swimmer, Libby someone or other who won medals. Her profile was so high that I didn’t even see her or hear anything about her till I was told! And where was the coverage of the Goalball, a specially devised game for visually impaired people? Admittedly Great Britain didn’t have a Goalball team this time, but its still a Paralympic sport and GB hope to have a team for 2012.
It worries me how there seem to be fewer and fewer blind and partially sighted sports men and women, and I think inclusion, or lack of it is to blame.
This is only my opinion, but one I feel very strongly about. It strikes me that, if you have a physical disability you can integrate quite well, as you can to a greater extent if you are deaf. This all comes down to eye contact. If you can make eye contact you’re OK. If you can’t do that, you’re side-lined. This makes it so much harder to find somewhere to train where you feel included.
It also figures in life as a whole. I’ve lived in the same road now for almost two and a half years, but I still don’t know anyone there. I deliberately make it my point to smile and say hello to my neighbours when I pass them, and they always respond in a friendly manner, but that’s as far as it goes. I can’t comment on their gardens, their cars, etc, which would be the sort of conversation starters other people would use, so that’s it. I’m as isolated now as I was two years ago.
I know this probably sounds very negative, but I think true integration is still a real problem for blind people, and I don’t know the way forward for this one.