UEFA Euro 2012 has had a significant and positive impact for both Poland & Ukraine in that airports, hotels, stadiums, public transport and quality of services have all been developed to include disabled access, something that has been greatly ignored in the past.
Although these changes are more apparent in the host cities, it will no doubt be a consideration for all future developments in both countries as the powers that be realise that disability is no longer an issue that can be ignored.
All renovated or newly erected buildings, which include airports and stadia, have ramps or lifts installed and pictograms. Even so, travelling fans with mobility difficulties are still likely to encounter problems. In most major cities only a small number of shops, bars and restaurants have proper wheelchair access. Large print menus and the like are virtually non-existent.
Sightseeing is even more of an issue, since many old and historic buildings are, more likely than not, inaccessible to people with disabilities. Away from the stadia and designated fan areas you will still have problems of wide streets with a high volume of traffic, cars parked on pavements, steep steps into underpasses, uneven paths and high kerbs.
In contrast to the above, nearly all of the host cities now have new low-floor buses especially designed for wheelchairs. These buses are marked on timetables. There are also a number of taxis designed to carry wheelchairs.
Any specific requirements for your flight i.e. dietary needs, should be requested when making your booking with your flight provider, this should also include any assistance to board/disembark the flight.
If you require assistance at your arrival airport it is as well to phone with details at least 3 days in advance.
If you are having difficulty finding totally accessible accommodation we have given links under each city of their tourist office that may be able to help you. Please note that a number of the Ukraine host cities don't have tourist offices so it may be worth contacting the National Assembly of the Disabled of Ukraine www.dpi.org or Intergracja in Poland www.intergracja.org
Most major hotels have at least one specially designed room to accommodate wheelchairs.
VENUE SPECIFIC INFORMATION
We are thankful to our friends at the Centre for Access to Football in Europe (CAFE) www.cafefootball.eu for much of the information below
For further country-specific information it may be worth contacting the National Assembly of the Disabled of Ukraine www.dpi.org or the tourism offices in the respective host cities.
The new terminal at the airport provides unimpeded transportation for disabled passengers throughout, via ramps and lifts. The main train station has undergone considerable renovation work ahead of the tournament, too, which has significantly improved access for disabled passengers.
The city council has invested in around 125 newly-built wheelchair-friendly buses for the tournament. These only represent a relatively small percentage of the buses in the city, but they are planned to run on key routes such as to/from the airport and stadium, which is a distinct improvement on the situation a couple of years ago.
The Donbass Arena has 159 accessible car parking spaces. Inside, there are 100 spaces for wheelchair users, with 40 seats designated for the blind and partially sighted, and another 40 for those who are deaf or partially deaf. There are 16 accessible toilets in the stadium.
Disabled passengers will have their tickets marked at the airport, to indicate to staff that they are to be carried by ambulift from the plane to the terminal. Once there, dedicated staff will assist passengers through the terminal, including customs and immigration. There is an accessible toilet in the terminal building. During the tournament special low-floored buses will shuttle fans from the airport to Boryspil metro station.
Disabled passengers should inform railway staff in advance of their journey - they will then be able to assist with wheelchairs, etc. There is a disabled waiting room in Kyiv's Central Station, which has an accessible toilet. There are plans to operate a low-floored bus from the central station during the tournament.
The metro is one of the least accessible means of transport in the city, with most stations being off-limits to those in a wheelchair. Often the only accessibility aid is two lines of concrete on the stairs, if any, which are extremely difficult to use.
The only stations with accessible exits are Khreshchatyk, Universitet, Vasylkivska, Demiyivsiy and Holosiivska.
Since our guidebook went to print, Donetsk authorities have announced that all new trolleybuses will have English translations on their 'next stop' recorded messages and on the destination boards at the front of the trolleybuses.
The stadium has 145 seats for disabled fans, and 150 accessible parking spaces. Lifts are in place for helping to get to the upper sections. There are wheelchair turnstiles at each section of the ground.
There is currently no ambulift at the airport, although authorities have promised to have them in place by the time the tournament comes around, along with special points set up to assist disabled passengers.
To get to Kharkiv by accessible train, a wheelchair user needs to make an order 5 days in advance, informing the authorities of their access requirements.
It is impossible for wheelchair users to access the city centre via the subway, as there are no lifts in place. Wheelchair users need to cross the rail tracks, which will be difficult without assistance. The state railway company have said that passengers can ask for assistance from station staff, although the level of training and skills could well be patchy.
Bizarrely, only one metro station in the city is accessible, so this isn't an option for disabled fans. The buses and trolleybuses aren't equipped with ramps, either, so getting around town will prove particularly problematic. Low-floored vehicles only run from the airport and bus stations.
The stadium has 100 accessible car parking spaces split between two separate areas. There are 110 spaces for wheelchair users at pitch level, with 40 seats for the blind and partially-sighted, and 40 for those who are deaf or partially-deaf. There are 10 accessible toilets.
The airport adequately caters for disabled passengers - the food and snack corner is usable, and there are disabled facilities including an accessible toilet.
The train station, however, is less easy to use. There are a large number of cobbled surfaces, and there is no telecommunication access for the blind, partially-sighted, deaf or partially-deaf. There is an accessible toilet, although only one platform is accessible and equipped with a lift and ramp.
The public transport situation is similarly inaccessible to Kyiv - getting around town is not the simplest, either, with cobbled streets and steep curbs to negotiate.
There are 98 accessible parking spaces at the stadium, with ramps in place on the north side and lifts to assist getting to the upper tiers. There are 50 accessible seats in each sector, some of which are in the front row.