Sir Philip Craven, who was re-elected President of the International Paralympic Committee in November, believes Sochi 2014 has the potential to transform Russian society.
“To see what has been created in terms of accessible Games infrastructure in Sochi in the last seven years since winning the Games is absolutely tremendous,” he said recently. “It is a real credit to the Organising Committee and the support of the Russian government.
"I hope that once the Games are over, the blueprint that has been created in Sochi's Games infrastructure is rolled out to the rest of Russia.”
As part of its work to improve Russian attitudes towards people with disabilities, the Sochi 2014 Organising Committee launched a Paralympic Awareness Programme in 2011.
The programme is intended to provide information about the history, philosophy and values of the Paralympic Movement, while also changing attitudes within Russian society towards the more than 13 million Russians who have a disability.
Speaking about the programme, Dmitry Chernyshenko, President of the Sochi 2014 Organising Committee, said: "What we do to raise social awareness of this issue and to encourage young people to promote Paralympic values, is one of the most important elements within this programme. During the preparation for the 2014 Games in Sochi, we are not only drawing attention to the Paralympic theme, but also attempting to shift society’s perceptions of people living with disabilities in our country as a whole.”
As part of the programme, Sochi 2014 also launched an “Accessibility Map” mobile application, enabling users to obtain information in an easier and quicker way about city amenities with a barrier-free environment, while also sharing information about recommended travel routes for people with disabilities, and nearby locations where they can participate in sport.
“The Accessibility Map is a unique project that promotes the formation of a barrier-free environment, and contributes to the development of a convenient and comfortable living environment for people with disabilities across the country,” explained Mikhail Terentyev, General Secretary of the Russian Paralympic Committee.