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Cripping up’ experiences appalling and outdated, says Welsh former Paralympian

16 May 2024 2 minute read
Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson. Photo Martin Rickett/PA Wire

Former Paralympian Baroness Grey-Thompson has branded as appalling the practice of “cripping up”, where non-disabled people use a wheelchair to help understand the barriers faced.

The gold medallist said she was “horrified” such “experiences” were still provided, arguing it was “outdated”.


In highlighting the accessibility difficulties faced by wheelchair users, Lady Grey-Thompson pointed out the new carpet in the House of Lords chamber was “like pushing through sludge”.

The independent crossbencher made her comments during a debate in the upper chamber on the wide-ranging challenges faced by people with disabilities.

She told peers: “One of the biggest barriers many disabled people face is that non-disabled people often don’t understand about those barriers and make wild assumptions, or because they sat in a wheelchair once or pushed their grandmother somewhere they think that they know everything about it.

“I am really horrified to see that companies are still offering these experiences as a way to help non-disabled people understand the barriers we face.

“It’s appalling, it’s outdated and what we in the disability community call cripping up.”

Accessibility problems

On accessibility problems, Lady Grey-Thompson highlighted her experience on the historic parliamentary estate.

She said: “Just in this building, yes, I accept we work in an old building, it is not the most accessible.

“If you are a passholder it is much easier, and I am very grateful to the team here who are talking about accessibility, but the new carpet that’s been put around the chamber is like pushing through sludge.”

Referring to the area earmarked for wheelchairs in the Lords chamber due to the stepped layout of the red benches, Lady Grey-Thompson added: “As much as I very much enjoy sitting next to Baroness Brinton, the fact we are both wheelchair users mean we can’t actually sit with our groups.”

She went on: “If you want to go out to the cinema or restaurant you can only have one friend because that’s the way it’s set up.

“Taking my daughter to see Winnie the Pooh when she was three, I was told because she wasn’t my carer she wasn’t allowed to sit with me and had to sit 20 rows in front of me.”

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Evan Aled Bayton
Evan Aled Bayton
5 days ago

Having acquired disability in later life due to a.neurological condition I can attest that disability is very personal and each individual has a different package of issues. Some have stable conditions with a relatively fixed list of issues. Others have progressive conditions or fluctuating or intermittent conditions each of which brings its own problems. There seems to have been a backsliding of resources and facilities in the last two decades.

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