Sunday 3 December is International Day of Disabled People 2017, and this year’s theme is ‘Transformation towards sustainable and resilient society for all’.

Each year, CAFE joins with disabled people, advocates and other stakeholders to celebrate this important day, and to promote the unique power that football has to bring about social change.

At CAFE, we have a very clear vision of the society that we want – one that is accessible, inclusive and welcoming for all. A society where disabled people and non-disabled people have equal opportunities and live without prejudice and discrimination.

A sustainable and resilient society is one which removes these barriers, enabling disabled people to take their rightful places across the wider society.

In a footballing context, this means disabled people being able to play, coach, watch and work in the game that they love.

We promote the social model approach to disability – that a person only becomes disabled by the barriers placed in front of them by society. These barriers may be physical, sensory, attitudinal or intellectual.

In working to remove these barriers, football clubs, stadiums, leagues and governing bodies can do a number of things.

Attitudinal barriers, in theory, should be the easiest barrier to remove but this is not always the case. Disabled people and non-disabled people need to be treated as equals, and celebrated for the important roles they can play in the wider society.

Stadiums and places of work can be made physically accessible, and in many cases small changes can make a big difference. UEFA and CAFE published Access for All – a good practice guide that provides clear and workable examples of how to improve stadium access for disabled football fans.

Access for All also includes information on some of the matchday services that can be implemented at stadiums, such as audio-descriptive commentary which enables a partially sighted or blind fan to follow the game alongside their fellow spectators.

CAFE is working to remove these barriers through football, and we have enjoyed many great success stories from across Europe. There is still a lot of work to be done, but through our associate partnership with UEFA great strides have been taken towards Total Football Total Access.

CAFE will celebrate many of the great initiatives taking place around European football during our annual CAFE Week of Action, which takes place on 3-11 March 2018.

Published 01/12/2017