Doha, 14 March 2021- Members of the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy’s (SC) Accessibility Forum recently conducted an audit of Al Bayt Stadium, one of eight tournament venues set to host matches during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™.
People with disabilities tested a range of the venue’s accessibility features, including designated parking, wheelchair accessible seating, Braille signage, bathrooms and lowered countertops at concession stands.
Forum member Ahmed Al Shahrani, a wheelchair user, said he was pleased to play a role in tournament preparations at the 60,000-capacity stadium, which will host the opening match of Qatar 2022.
“I’m here to ensure the stadium is accessible to all and that it can be used by all fans regardless of their disability,” said Al Shahrani. “It is an honour to be part of an initiative that has created a much-needed platform for people with disabilities to play an active role in ensuring not only that Qatar 2022 is accessible, but that it leaves behind an accessible legacy for generations to come.”
In addition to stadiums, accessibility plans for Qatar 2022 address all the major touchpoints of a fan’s user journey, including ticketing, air travel, accommodation, transportation and the ability to access non-competition venues such as fan zones and cultural sites.
As part of the visit, members of the forum gave their feedback to the Al Bayt technical team, and will formalise their input in reports to be submitted to the SC.
“A crucial part of the design process includes real user testing before the stadium is finally used for the tournament. With just under two years to go until Qatar 2022, having the opportunity to have fans with disabilities test out Al Bayt’s accessibility features is critical to our ability to ensure that the plans we have put in place resonate with the community,” said Mooza Al Harami, Design Manager from the SC’s Technical Delivery Office.
As part of the team that facilitated the tour, Al Harami walked forum members through key parts of the stadium in order to replicate a fan’s journey from entrance to seat. She was joined by Samantha Sifah, the SC’s Fan Engagement Lead, who played a critical role in establishing the forum.
“In order for us to deliver the most inclusive and accessible tournament possible in 2022, we must hear from the disability community now. Judging from today’s initial feedback, it seems that fans with disabilities are generally pleased with the accessibility features of the stadium,” said Sifah.
“Only through combining the efforts of the community and the SC can we truly deliver on our promises to fans with disabilities and that is why the work of the Accessibility Forum has played such an important role in informing all of our accessibility plans in the build-up to the tournament,” Sifah added.
Accessibility forms a central part of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ Sustainability Strategy, which applies to all functional areas and projects involved in preparations for the tournament and its legacy. Released in 2020, the strategy states one of its aims is to “ensure an accessible FIFA World Cup 2022 for disabled people and people with limited mobility, while facilitating accessibility across physical infrastructure, public transport and services in Qatar.”
Speaking recently at the 46th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, Bodour Al Meer, the SC’s Sustainability Director, ensured fans with disabilities from around the world that they will enjoy, “a safe, dignified and independent tournament” when it kicks off at Al Bayt on 21 November 2022.