Monday, September 28, 2009

Could Chicago Olympics Set New Standard for Accessibility?


According to an article in the Chicago Sun Times, if Chicago is selected next week as the host of the 2016 Olympic Games, Chicago Stadium could become the most "handicapped-friendly" venues ever built.

Specifically, city officials are working on a plan to convert up to 50,000 of the 80,000 seats in the temporary stadium into wheelchairs. After the Olympics, when the stadium is torn down, the wheelchairs could be donated to people who need them. Patrick Ryan, the CEO of the Chicago 2016 bid team, said, "It addresses a social issue where we can make wheelchairs -- privately funded -- available to people around the world with disabilities. There are still people around the world who still have to drag themselves because they don't have wheelchairs."

Credit for the idea is being given to Darren Brehm, who works for a firm consulting for Chicago 2016 and has used a wheelchair since 1990, when a car crash left him paralyzed. "It could change a lot of people's lives," Breman said.

The cost for the special seats? About $100 to $200 each. The entire cost of the stadium could be nearly $400 million, and the cost of the seats may require support from private sponsors.

Sounds like a win-win situation, don't you think? Now, let's see if Chicago gets that bid...
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