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Following Accessibility Forum: Several ways to make environment more accessible

24.06.2014  |  Society   |  Office for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities,  
Following Accessibility Forum: Several ways to make environment more accessible

This year Accessibility Forum took place in Minsk on June 4 in the frames of Accessibility Week, 2014.

Accessibility Forum gathered people interested in expansion of accessibility and in involving people with disabilities into life of local community. The event became the place where everyone could get acquainted with colleagues’ work, find new partners and share experience. The last Forum that took place in the frames of Accessibility Week is the proof that you don’t have to work in a specialized organization to make the world more comfortable and the society more tolerant.

Autism: simply to understand

You have simply to understand autism, – considers a member of council of international charitable association “Children. Autism. Parents” Irina Dergach. According to official statistics there are about 800 children registered in Belarus with autistic disorders. It is a well-known fact that every 100th children has such a diagnosis.

– The earlier we realize the problem of autism the earlier we can evaluate a potential of such people. In Belarus there are two ways for these kids to get education: at home or at integrated classes.

Among barriers on the way to getting education in mainstream school we can mention fear and anxiety of other children and their parents of communication with “special” kids and low level of knowledge about autism by technical school staff and sometimes by teachers.

Irina Dergach

– The existing methods do not give a possibility to evaluate a potential of a kid with autistic disorder – says Irina Dergach. – Every case is a unique one and should be worked with separately.

In order to explain children and grown-ups what a child with autism hears and sees the organization created a computer game. Interactive game-cartoon lets a person to see the world the way a “special” kid sees it; it explains why he behaves this or that way and why his behavior differs from the behavior of other children. The creators hope that the product will be especially useful in educational establishments. It will appear in the Internet in free access very soon.

And informal is accessible

Specialist of the Association of Life-long education and Enlightenment in cooperation with experts of the Office for the rights of persons with disabilities prepared recommendations on inclusion in the sphere of informal education which were presented at Accessibility Forum. This a unique for Belarus work because if people spoke about inclusion in the past it was generally in the frames of traditional education.

Andrei Levko

If NGOs, educational courses and study groups make the prepared advices as a basis it will significantly widen the possibilities of people with disabilities to study, get new knowledge and skills. It will make all the system of informal education more accessible. By the way you can download the recommendations here. On June 10 in the frames of accessibility week we will have an event where you can find out how to organize an accessible environment.

No barriers at work

Aleksei Avgustinovich became the initiator of the interesting online project: “Internet without barriers”. It gives people with disabilities possibility to distantly undergo study trainings and webinars acquiring additional useful professional knowledge.

The creators of the course say that such educational programs are unique because people who are not able to study offline can join them. Another positive moment is that you can involve as teachers unique specialists who live in different countries of the world.

Online students mainly study IT-specialties and it gives them a possibility to employ. 46 people took part in the past course 11 of them managed to completely pass it. Today we have examples of people who employed and started to earn money. We are planning to make the next courses more advanced and if you pass it you will become a more demanded specialist.

The director of Minsk enterprise “ArtIdea” Natalia Ampleeva says about the examples of offline-employment of persons with disabilities. She is sure that everyone should be given a possibility to realize his abilities in work. Young people with disabilities work at her firm.

Natalia Ampleeva

– When I started my work I thought that I know everything about disability. I have a son with developmental disorders. But it was a difficult start: we had to prepare our employees for a long time. Today we managed even to widen the list of production: we make packing, handmade postcards, souvenirs and many other things. We care about every employee.

I live independently!

Elena Boiko a specialist on social work of PA “Belarusan association of assistance to disabled children and young disabled” told about the national practice of “assisted living”.

– Assisted living is a step to an adult life, which gives many children a possibility to learn how to live apart from their parents. On weekdays young people live in a hostel under supervision of social workers. They cook food, tidy rooms etc. They learn how to be a grown-up.

Since the opening of this service we’ve had 8 study courses. About three dozens of young people learned new skills and many of them are now employed and earn money.

More sport and tourism

Representatives of NGO “Special World” say that today the development of physical culture for children with disabilities is the sphere to which almost no attention is paid to in Belarus.

A person with disability cannot do any sport – this stereotype came to us from the Soviet Union and is still alive. Few organizations working in the sphere of disability are involved in development of sport activities and “Special World” is one of them. In the frames of Accessibility Week we invite everyone to sport holiday “Play with me” where children will have a possibility to train and parents and specialist to discuss topical issues.

Specialists of Grodno branch of Red Cross told about the interesting project “Support of children with special needs with the participation of family members in Grodno Oblast”. Specialists work in close cooperation with parents organizing different educational events, actions and meetings. They organize family excursions and visits to health camps.

Excursions and movies for blind people

Try to close your eyes when you watch an interesting movie – will you understand a lot? Now you feel the same as a person with some vision impairments or a blind one. Movies. Theatres, excursions and sport competitions – all of these can become accessible for blind people with the help of special technique of audio description, – says a specialist of the Office for the rights of persons with disabilities Tatiana Kryshtal.

– It is the way of commenting of what is happening on the stage or screen, – she explains. – Additional comments on the movie – between words of heroes or musical compositions – give a person with visual impairments a possibility to understand what is happening on the screen.

Now Polish experts are teaching specialists in the sphere of culture, NGOs this technique and they promise that soon we’ll have three translated to the language of visually impaired people movies, two of them are filmed in Belarus. Several cartoons will also be translated.

Accessibility map

Representatives of Latvian organization APEIRONS shared their interesting initiative, which make environment more accessible. They launched a mobile app, which presents an accessibility map. The map has the entire accessible infrastructure for people with disabilities, such as accessible crossings, public WCs, movies and museums a person with special needs can freely visit. A representative of the organization Sintija Berzina says – This map has significantly simplified life of people with disabilities, now when they visit even a small town they can plan their route by choosing at the map places they want. Such a map has been prepared not only for Latvia but also for Lithuania and Estonia. Latvian colleagues are ready to share the basis of the app and to help to create the same app for our country.

Sintija Berzina

Another instrument used for widening the informational accessibility is Latvian program about persons with disabilities airing weekly on one of TV-channels. It tells about life of persons with disabilities. 

 

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