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Protests for disabled rights held in France ahead of Paris Olympics and Paralympics


Angry about decades of unmet promises, people with disabilities protested in France Wednesday by showing how difficult and frustrating it is for them to travel alone by train into Paris, delivering a stinging rebuke to government inertia before the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
President Emmanuel Macron, hosting a national conference on disabilities, conceded failures, noted slow progress, and promised concrete action for France’s 12 million people with disabilities, including ahead of the Games.
“This world is not a parallel world,” Macron told the gathering.
“I want this world to end being a world of silence, that people with disabilities be heard, be present and visible everywhere in our society.”
He pledged €1.5 billion to improve accessibility, targeting small establishments receiving the public – from restaurants to administrative locales and taxis, train stations and trains. Details, and a timeline, are to be worked out before the summer.
Macron also promised full reimbursement for wheelchair purchases in 2024.
Today, many disabled people in France face a constant struggle.
Just getting to the conference at the presidential Elysee Palace would be an ordeal for many of the people the event is focused on, because of very limited accessibility on the Paris Metro and frequent frustrations for people with disabilities on the French capital’s supposedly fully accessible buses.
The RATP, the metro authority, has said that 32 stations, out of more than 300, will be accessible by the Olympics.
This month, an arm of the Council of Europe, the continent’s foremost human rights body, found France in violation of a European treaty on social and economic rights, citing multiple failings in meeting the needs of adults and children with disabilities.
Olympic organisers say the host city will “provide the best possible conditions for para-athletes and visitors with disabilities.” They say they’re aiming for “an obstacle-free experience for all,” with 100 per cent of venues to be accessible for people with disabilities and all volunteers to be trained in serving their needs so as to “avoid users feeling that they have any kind of disability.”
( Source Euronews/AP)

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