Insurmountable "barrier-free space"

2013 2013-03-14T16:18:25+0300 1970-01-01T03:00:00+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

The issue of the improvement of the barrier-free environment in Babruisk is a daily one for wheelchair disabled.

"It seems to me that it is necessary not to speak, but to shout about this issue", said an employee of the local social center Maria Tarasenko.

Nine years ago, she got into a heavy car accident, after which she was literary assembled from pieces. She spent a year in awheel chair, and rehabilitation took one more year. Maryia says that hte time when she had seen people "below", helped her to look at life in a different way. She is very worried about her "girls" – a small group of wheelchair disabled for whom she conducts therapy.

"Now we are waiting for a real, warm spring to get out of the house somewhere. I spent the winter in in the apartment, as our 5th and 6th neighborhoods are not equipped with ramps and convenient walkways. Social taxi doesn't ride in winter, as it works on diesel," sighs wheelchair disabled Natallia Pinkouskaya. "It is also impossible to walk much in the city center, because of the same high curbs, with which our city is lavishly decorated. Lenin Square is more or less comfortable, the curbs are low even in the yards, but it is still hard to get inside the buildings, such as shops, for instance.

The girls list the places where they would like to, but can not get wheelchairs: the exhibition hall, as there are high stairs at the entrance; the theater, as far as one has to get up to the second floor there; the Palace of Arts with awkward stairs on the way to the entrance and inside the building; the new art gallery with uncomfortable porch, and so on – all cultural institutions in turn.

"We can go, to cinema, for example, because the door through which the spectators go out after the movie canbe opened for wheelchair disabled. As for cafes, it is almost impossible, except for the open grounds opened in summer. Even the new shopping center, which has no stairs, and where it is convenient to move, is situated in a "roadless" area of the city,
where one has either to move by the wheelchair outside the road, where there is no asphalt, or struggle with high curbs, set along the carriage way. But an absolute mockery at us are invitations to the Day of Disabled. The matter is that it is conducted in the Palace of Arts, and, as we have already said, it is difficult to get there. A volunteer will have to take you to the building by the stairs, carrying you on his hands, and then – to the second floor. Therefore, few wheelchair disabled dare to go there," sums up Natallia.

yia Tarasenka says that in Babruisk wheelchair disabled are literally "tied" to a volunteer or a relative. She is also indignant that they have to pay for social taxi.

For example, Natallia has to go to group classes once a week, and needs to spend about 30,000 rubles for it", says Maryia. "It is a considerable sum for people with disabilities, that's why they try to take taxis as little as possible. Meanwhile, such taxis aren't even equipped for the transportation of people in wheelchairs, as a result of which at least one volunteer must be present in it to control the situation. A volunteer and patience to wait until the arrival of the needed model of a bus or trolleybus are necessary for traveling in the public transport. The center staff applied to potential sponsors in enterprises and companies, asking them to donate money to pay for social taxi. And almost all of us refused to do it. Sometimes it is quite surprising to read the answers about the absence of money, printed on good expensive paper.

The sidewalks in Babruisk are more or less normal, but the curbs are unbearable. It is outrageous that there are so many talks about barrier-free environment, but nobody cares to install low curbs or or ramps during the road and pavement repairs," says wheelchair disabled Anastasiya Fiodarava. "I walk in the town with friends, but there are people who are always alone. I have such friend, for whom every walk is an extreme action, she has to ride her wheelchair on the carriage way. Another friend of mine was once detained by the traffic police for riding on the carriage way. However, their colleagues at the station swore at them, that's why they had to aplogize and take the disabled home. The situation with the public transport is funny as well," says Nastsia. "I must be the only wheelchair disabled who uses it. The drivers are rarely stop near the curb. As a rule, one has to jump thrugh the gap."

The girls say that people often blame them, directly or indirectly, by the fact that they can not walk. The driver of the social taxi said that it was a hard work for him. This is despite the fact that they are trying to be independent, but the people who can walk do not give them this chance. Natallia Pinkouskaya works as a dispatcher and and embroiders beautiful pictures, Nasta Fiodarava works in a cosmetics company and paints.

"Every girl in my group could lead
a coterie, teach children to paint, sew or work with beads", says Maryia Tarasenka. "Unfortunately, it is more convenient for the responsible officials to forget abou the issue of the disabled rather then give them a chance do live a worthy life."

In the photos:
1. Natallia Pinkouskaya
2. Natallia Pinkouskaya's works
3. Nasta Fiodarava
4. Meeting of a group of wheelchair disabled at the social center