After a “kind button”, that any owner of a plastic card can press at ATM “Belarusbank” and transfer money to a bank draft of PA “Republican association of wheelchair users”, there appeared a charitable telephone line. Belarusian disabled people search for the opportunities to improve their position in the society by themselves.
—Calling the charitable telephone line will help to raise funds for purchasing hoists at porches of dwelling houses,— explains the head of the association Evgeny Shevko. – Each of them costs from 50 to 100 millions Belarusian rubles, depending on the modification and number of steps to be overcome.
Today only one in every ten wheelchair users in Belarus can easily get out of his house. The organizers expect that in case this action succeeds the government won’t be able to ignore their initiative and will start acting in the right direction for the wheelchair users. Building of the ramps in the city is good, but it’s time we thought that before getting to the store, the person has to get out of the house.
—This problem is not solved even at the legislative level—says Evgeny Shevko. —In accordance with the existing building code houses do not need to be geared to the physically challenged people. As a result people in wheelchairs cannot use a porch and a house qualitatively.
According to different estimates there are from 20 to 22 thousand people in Belarus, who use wheelchairs. However these figures cannot be called accurate.
– The officials don’t want to share information, —admits Shevko. — I think that is because after statistic’s promulgation there inevitably arises the question concerning the quality of wheelchair users’ life. For example there are some claimed figures in Belarus as far as the employment of disabled people is concerned. But they do not mention that among the employed there are almost no wheelchair users, who simply cannot get out of their houses. There is no doubt that with the beginning of the barrierless environment’s formation over the past decades and appearing of the internet, which gives the opportunity to work distantly, their life improved. But we steel talk about inadequate quality of services for the disabled people.
Presently the association lobbies for including hand tools in the list of social rehabilitation resources. There are a lot of wheelchair users, who have lost the use not only of legs but also fingers. It means that those people cannot even fasten a button or eat by themselves. Meanwhile, devices that allow people to facilitate their lives in such situations greatly have been invented long ago.
As Evgeny Shevko marks the devices are “simple, not expensive, but ease life a lot”. For example the flexion of the spoon’s helve is different from usual. Also specially curved wire is used for fastening a button. It is another matter that they are not produced in Belarus. But if the physically challenged people were provided with those devices, then the quality of life of not only wheelchair users but also people with hand injuries would be much higher.
—I look at a wheelchair user as at a person who has to be useful to the society. I think that all government’s initiatives should be directed to people’s involvement in public life, so that they were not dependents. But the government has a different approach—to help, to take care and as a result often deprive physically challenged people of the opportunities for self-realization,—stresses the head of the association of wheelchair users.
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