UK

Disabled Mother Beth Davis-Hofbauer 'Told Wheelchair Users Cannot Sit With Family' At Paralympics

14/08/2012 15:56 BST

A young disabled mother has criticised the Paralympics for allegedly not allowing her to sit with her family at the Games - because she is a wheelchair user.

Beth Davis-Hofbauer, mother of a four-year-old autistic son and a nine-month-old baby girl, phoned the Paralympics wheelchair users' ticket line to book tickets on Monday, to make sure her husband, who is also her carer, can help look after her and her children.

But she alleged she was told it was the policy of the venue to only allow one person to sit with the wheelchair user.

amelia and i

Beth Davis- Hofbauer, with her daughter Amelia

She has now begun a petition, with more than 1,600 signatures, to persuade the venue to let her sit with her husband.

Davis-Hofbauer, who runs her own craft business from her home in Fareham, Hampshire, said: "We're not going to see anything anymore. My little boy Milo was so excited and he particularly wanted to see the track cycling, he's obsessed with bikes.

"But the hotline would not even let us buy tickets. I was told if you are in a wheelchair, then you sit with one companion, with the suggestion your children sit elsewhere. My husband is my carer, I need him to be sat with me.

"We even offered to pay full price to have the children both on our laps but that wasn't possible.

The petition has sparked some anger on Twitter, where Davis-Hofbauer originally began to publicise her problem.

A London 2012 spokesperson said: “It is not our policy that wheelchair users can only be accompanied by one other person when attending the Games. 

"We designed our venues with accessible seating located around the new venues, at different price points so that wheelchair users can sit with their friends and families rather than in one single designated area and companion seats were included in the cost of a ticket for a wheelchair space. 

"With just a couple of weeks to go to the Games, many sessions are now selling out and additional spaces are subject to the same availability as for non-wheelchair users.”

But Davis-Hofbauer said: "That is not what I was told, I am 100% sure. I would totally understand if it was about availability, but I was told this is the policy.

"So I asked about all the other sports, swimming, basketball, absolutely anything, but I was told that was the policy in all the venues. I even had the man on the phone check the policy with his manager, who confirmed it.

"Obviously, even at the Paralympic Games, in 2012, this amazing demonstration of disabled sport, they don't think it's possible for disabled people to have a family and sit with them. I'm sick of being treated like a second-class citizen.

"I was crying hysterically when I got off the phone. I am determined for it to change, even if we don't get tickets."