Paralympian calls on sport to do more for disabled competitors and fans

Mike Brace CBE acceptance speech

19 November 2015, London: Mike Brace CBE, the six-time Paralympian and former chairman of the British Paralympic Association, says sport still has a long way to go to make disabled people feel fully included as competitors and spectators.

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Mr Brace, who was founder and chairman of Vision 2020 UK, the sports charity for people with visual impairments, said people with disabilities “don’t feel included in all aspects of sport yet.”

He added: “There’s been more access to facilities like gym for visually impaired people, and attitudes have moved on – that’s a big shift.

“But, detrimentally, there’s still an element of compartmentalising certain aspects as something additional in competitive and spectator sport.

“Issues like working out if you can get a good audio commentary for a football match or game of tennis are still not quite there.

“Inclusion has been a hard battle. People often see the disability or skin colour first and the person second. For me, it is always the person first. That is where inclusion starts – with what people can do.”

Mr Brace, who was founder and chairman of Vision 2020 UK, the sports charity for people with visual impairments, was speaking at London’s O2 Arena on Wednesday, where he was presented with an honorary doctorate by the University of East London (UEL) in recognition of his services to sport.

In impassioned acceptance speech, Mr Brace told fellow students, “Each of you is massively important. You have the ability to change people’s thinking. Disability has so often been a state of mind – my state and your mind. You cannot do a lot about my state, but together we change a lot of peoples’ minds.”

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