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REPORTER PIECE TO CAMERA (English, 24 sec): “This is the view from the top of Madrisa, a mountain in the heart of the Swiss Alps. Thousands upon thousands of people come up here every year to enjoy skiing in the winter, and hiking in the summer months. It just took me a few minutes to get up here by chairlift – but for those with physical disabilities or other accessibility requirements, just getting to spots like this has always been a major challenge. Until now.” This chairlift is the first in Switzerland to be fully accessible to people with disabilities. Everyone entering the lift room is measured by laser, with the platform adjusting its height to match yours so you can easily get on the lift. Wheelchair users can also come in the same way as everyone else, and aren’t forced to leave their family and enter through a back door. Among those trying it out on the first day was Swiss Paralympian Edith Wolf. SOUNDBITE, Edith Wolf, Paralympic Double Gold-medalist (English, 20 sec): “I’m a person like everyone, you know, I want to be free. I don’t feel handicapped – all the obstacles handicap me. So if you can go skiing with your family, and you are together all the time, you don’t have to go around, then that makes it into an experience, and it’s so cool to be independent for me especially." Adaptive skiing and other winter sports for those with disabilities are an increasing concern for Alpine resorts competing for tourists. Many are looking to new technology to boost accessibility. For engineers at ABB, which powers projects throughout the Alps, the Madrisa project was particularly close to home. SOUNDBITE, Ulrich Spiesshofer, CEO, ABB (English, 23 sec): “We care about people, and we bring here disabled people with our technology up to the mountains to enable them to go skiing. We show what our technology can do in terms of energy efficiency: the motor on this ski-lift is one of the most energy-efficient in the world. And it is a project here in our mother-country, our home country of Switzerland, which makes us specifically proud.” The accessibility of the new Madrisa chairlift, whatever your size, also makes it ideal for kids. …meaning the whole family can now enjoy a getaway together. In Switzerland, the birthplace of winter sports, the Alps have never been open to so many people before.
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