The FIA Disability And Accessibility Commission Makes Progress
As we all absorb the fantastic work and information published after the FIA World Sports Conference and World Motorsport Council both held in Manila last month, The Disability And Accessibility Commission is also keen to promote the progress it too is making.
We held our first Commission meeting in April at the Region One Mobility Spring Meeting hosted in Madrid. The meeting was very well attended by both the Sports and Mobility members and all members seemed to share the passion and enthusiasm to move forward in both the disabled Motorsport and Global Mobility sectors. The DAA Commission is one of the first Commissions created that encompasses both the Sports and Mobility sectors and it’s very apparent from our first meeting that this collaboration will be valuable for our work. Our first objectives have been outlined. The Sports side will work to; standardise a global disabled licensing process; create a ‘Back To Racing’ program for drivers who have suffered life changing injuries; and to homologate adaptations that allow disabled drivers to race. We will also build on the excellent work that has already been done by the Mobility sector by tackling the global misuse of disabled parking and creating more accessible automotive transport for those living with disabilities in developing countries.
Last week I was given the privilege of speaking on stage at the 6th FIA World Sports Conference in Manila to share my vision for disabled motorsport. The support the Commission has received from the Motorsport community is very encouraging and help is being offered from every country involved. But it’s not just the FIA who are leading the way with this support. A month ago, the Formula E drivers gave up their time to raise awareness for the DAA Commission at an E-Karting event organised and hosted by Jean-Eric Vergne. Vergne personally invited Billy Monger to a race against the Formula E drivers to support the young driver progressing back into his motorsport career with the event also raising funds for motorsport charity Spinal Track. Billy raced on level terms with the other drivers and his team ended up taking third place on the podium. Billy is proof if ever we needed it that disability is completely irrelevant when it comes to competing.
Support is also coming from other mainstream avenues in the form of sponsorship. Big brands historically associated with sponsoring Motorsport are starting to look to disabled drivers, teams and charities to advertise their logos. This is a big marker in terms of progress. Disabled drivers are not being sponsored by healthcare companies but are being taking seriously by big brands who see value in signing contracts with drivers who can offer something different in terms of publicity. Being a Motorsport athlete arguably demands more discipline and focus than other sports and if you couple that with the determination needed to overcome a disability, then you start to become a person that companies want to be associated with.
Disability is not a subject people like to talk about openly due to it’s sensitive nature which often means that organisations just follow regulations without any real thought about how to effect positive change. The FIA is not one of those organisations. This Commission is going to change the future of disabled motorsport for EVERYONE. Our next Commission meeting is in Paris in September and I can’t wait to update the world on the progress we are making.