The incident put Glasgow’s COP26 climate summit in the headlines for all the wrong reasons.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson was forced to apologise to Israeli Energy Minister Karine Elharrar after she was unable 
to attend the first day because the compound was not accessible for wheelchairs.

Tressa Burke, chief executive of Glasgow Disability Alliance (GDA), says she was shocked “but not surprised” by the incident.

New research involving the charity has found disabled people are continuing to face barriers accessing public buildings and services and are “hugely under-represented” in employment, in direct infringement of equality laws.

One participant said they were unable to register to volunteer at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow because the venue only had stairs.

Another told of difficulties working at Hampden Park because of accessibility, while interviewees said it was very common to be asked to attend a job interview only to find that the building is not accessible.

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The report cautions that Glasgow’s societal problems, including poor health, educational attainment and poverty, will not be solved until disability inequality is tackled head on, because improvements will have a ripple effect on other disadvantaged groups in society.

Almost a quarter of Glasgow’s working age population are disabled in some way, rising to 64 per cent of those aged over 65, while 31% of all residents have one or more health conditions.

“If you get it right for disabled people, you get it right for much, much wider groups of people,” said the charity leader.


“If communication was properly targeted towards people with diverse needs, it would be better able to reach poor people or those with poor literacy.

“We believe wholeheartedly that the people who experience disadvantage and inequality, and the consequences, should be involved in the solutions to tackle it.”

The research involved focus groups with 60 people with physical and learning disabilities.

One participant said it took 18 months for an organisation to implement changes that would allow them to volunteer.

Anther interviewee said: “When you are asked to attend a meeting, go to a job interview or for a volunteering opportunity, quite often, when you get there, you find the building is not accessible, so you are immediately blocked before you get there.

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“It happens all the time. An example was when going for a meeting 
regarding volunteering for the Commonwealth Games, the entrance was down a set of stairs with no other option. 

“Also when working at Hampden, the stadium was not easily accessible.”

Others said there was need to improve the support given to school leavers to allow them to access further education and work placements.


The chief executive of GDA said it was shocking that people with disabilities were being prevented from “participating in their own lives” because they can’t make the basic decisions that others take for granted.

She said: “Equally shocking is the lack of knowledge and understanding of how to improve the situation to enable participation.

“How to do it, when to do it, how much will it cost, combined with increased pressures on the public sector results in it not getting done or not getting done well.

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"Other equalities groups’ participation and rights are based on their need to be recognised, but our participation is not just about recognition, it’s about re-distribution. It’s about the need to back up the actions with resources.

“I know there is the need for additional resources for social care, but perhaps it’s also about choices.”

Participants who are visually impaired said they often struggled to use digital technology because it is not disability-friendly, citing examples such as being unable to use the chat function on Zoom.

The research found that people from black, ethnic minority groups with disabilities face additional barriers, while the pandemic disproportionately affected those with disabilities, due to health and social care support dropping off.

The report by Glasgow City Council’s social recovery task force and the University of Glasgow’s Centre For Disability Research, calls for “active and direct involvement” by disabled people in the planning, delivery and evaluation of services in Glasgow.

A Scottish FA spokesman for Hampden Park said it had provided support "at all times" to any member of staff working in the stadium in line with relevant legislation, since taking over ownership of Hampden Park in 2020.

In Scotland, Personal Independence Payment will start to be replaced by the new Adult Disability Payment from next month, opening for applications in three pilot areas from March.

Legislation for the new benefit has now been formally approved by the Scottish Parliament, which means that people of working age with a disability, long-term illness or physical or mental health condition, living in Dundee City, Perth and Kinross and the Western Isles council areas, should apply for disability assistance to 
Social Security Scotland – and not the Department for Work and Pensions – from March 21onwards.

A phased launch of the new support payment has been scheduled for all 
32 council areas across Scotland, with nationwide introduction due to begin on August 29.