13 posts about Rugby League 13: Wembley and Reflections

After some time in the sin bin for trying to do too much here is post 13. I’d really hoped that this would be written before I set off to Wembley on Saturday. Then I had half an idea that I’d write it on my phone on the way home but I was tired and that just wasn’t going to happen.

Wembley stadium was an extraordinary experience. I’ve never been to a Challenge Cup final before and to be honest may well never have made the journey if Batley weren’t playing in the 1895 Cup final that day too. After a hard fought match Batley didn’t come home with the Cup, that honour went to Halifax in a very close match. Lucy stayed at home this time.

Lucy giving the Bulldogs some love from home.
Lucy’s Mum watching the flag parade.

The crowd was 58,213. I’ve never been in a crowd that large before. I think it was the right decision that Lucy stayed at home to watch because of the noise and it was very very long day. It was the noisiest place I’d ever been. I’ve had a look at the facilities though and there are specific areas for those with sensory needs and changing places loos so if we did go I think the facilities would help us to be there. (So no pressure Batley but maybe next year???)

The capacity of Wembley stadium is 90,000 people. Thanks to Helen Robinson who shared where to find the best guess we have about the number of AAC users in the population (page 6 of this document). It’s between 0.4 and 0.6 of the total population. Helen also stressed that most people think this is now incorrect. This is unsurprising as it’s a stat from 1990. 1990 was 20 years before this launched and while not all AAC uses a powered device I think it’s reasonable to say that personal tablet devices have revolutionised access to and the possibilities of powered AAC.

So it’s safe to say the estimate of 0.4-0.6 is low given the increased access to the technology for AAC and increased recognition for the need for it in more and more groups of people. I decided to take the highest of these numbers 0.6% and the population of the UK to work out that the number of people in the UK who use AAC would fill Wembley stadium just over 4.5 times and that’s likely an underestimate.

Wembley Stadium just before the 1895 Cup final. Many of the 58,213 people had set off back up North at this point. This gives you a scale of the stadium though.

I’ve included a wide angle image of Wembley stadium above. Imagine that full of AAC users and then think of that 4 and a half times over (408,831 people). In the event that we actually tried this then Wembley would definitely need more changing places loos, wheelchair spaces and sensory areas than it’s got.

That’s a lot of people. Now I could conclude this post by writing about the lack of services for all of those people. I could write about discrepancies in funding. But those posts are for another day. I want to write about the possibilities. The possibility that you, if you’re reading this and have never met anyone who communicates in different ways, are likely to meet someone soon as there are a lot of people, 4.5 stadia full. I want to write about my hopes that as more and more people have the chance to use AAC to develop language and share what they want to say every sports ground, shopping centre, hillside, restaurant will hear them. That everyone can be heard and understood in a way that’s right for them.

All images (c) Joanna Holmes



5 Responses

  1. Brilliant read, thank you so much for sharing your experiences and your hopes.

    I also hope that we can get more inclusion in our society. People who use wheelchairs are only 8% of the disabled population. Imagine if every shop had ramps to get in and every road had dropped curbs so that we could cross the road easily. Imagine if potholes were completed and cars didn’t park on the pavement, so we could actually get along the pavement easily. Adding to that the different ways of communicating and how we could make our society even more inclusive, opening up so many people to a world that they just cannot experience, without significant difficulties.

    I’m looking forward to your future posts, well done for this one

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