16:59 03 Dec 2023

Ukraine to unveil Barrier-Free Events Guide – Zelenska

Photo: t.me/FirstLadyOfUkraine

The Barrier-Free Events Guide will be introduced in Ukraine soon. It will provide instructions on how to make all events, gatherings, and meetings accessible. Olena Zelenska emphasized the importance of making the entire country and all available options barrier-free.

The President's wife, Olena Zelenska, said this in a speech at the National Forum of the Rights of People with Disabilities in Kyiv, Ukrinform reports.

In particular, Zelenska noted that Ukrainian society is changing and is mastering barrier-free language – how to speak to traumatized and wounded people properly.

"By the way, this can be taught by our "Barrier-free Guide," – the President's wife said.

She emphasized that people with disabilities need not only the right words and the right emotions but also the right actions.

"That is why already in the Barrier-Free Events Guide that I mentioned, there are now sections not only on communication, from the first days of the war it answers the question of what to do in emergencies, and now in a special section called "People with war experience: dignity, interaction" will provide advice on employment and training in particular. Also, this year, the Barrier-Free Events Guide created within the same initiative will be presented. It will already be a separate booklet and will also be integrated into the website of the barrier-free guide," Zelenska said.

She specified that the "Barrier-Free Events Guide" will tell how to make every event barrier-free, any meeting.

"But in reality, this project is not about events, but about how much the organizers and participants are ready to see people with disabilities and what we are all ready to do for this," the President's wife emphasized.

She stressed the importance of the forum conversation, "especially in the conditions in which we are forced to live now."

"There are so many people injured as a result of the war, and their number is increasing so quickly that disability is coming out of the shadows, it is becoming visible, it has become more talked about. Moreover, it has become associated with heroism, overcoming difficult trials, and strength of spirit," Zelenska said.

She mentioned several stories of people with disabilities about whom the media wrote or filmed stories.

"We must understand that for the heroes of these materials, the ordeal is not limited to the fact that they received a prosthesis or ran a marathon – when the camera turns off, everyday life begins with public transport, inconvenient entrances, inaccessible shelters, choosing decent conditions and opportunities," the President's wife.

She also recalled a recent sociological study commissioned by the League of the Strong, which showed that people with disabilities continue to name the inability to move freely outside the home, impossible access to public spaces, and discrimination when looking for a job as the main discriminatory factors.

"Veterans say that they do not need sympathy or formally expressed thanks, but effective support, accessibility, and opportunities," the President's wife noted.

She also highlighted successful examples of Ukrainian businesses that have operated without barriers as both employers and service providers.

"It is especially effective when state ones complement private initiatives. For example, this year, a network of driving schools for people with disabilities became available throughout Ukraine. This is good news," Zelenska noted.

First Lady Olena Zelenska states that there is currently no accurate data on the number of people affected by Russian attacks in Ukraine who need prosthetics.

"The Wall Street Journal's calculations on the number of Ukrainians who have been disabled due to Russian attacks and crimes are generating a lot of conflicting reports in our media. Around 50,000 individuals are currently in need of prosthetics. Meanwhile, according to our agencies, this number is much higher. And in fact, I'll say this: hardly anyone today has exact numbers, even in Ukraine, let alone abroad. And this was information from the Ottobock company, which manufactures prostheses," said Zelenska.

She emphasized that "disability is not only about injuries; there is an invisible disability that also needs to be worked with."

"So I want to emphasize again – let's not see numbers, but people. Do not calculate percentages, do not divide people by characteristics, but on the contrary – include them. Do not create oases of barrier-free accessibility or reservation of barrier-free accessibility – here it is, but here it is unnecessary because we don't have such people," Zelenska stressed.

She emphasized that "the whole country must become barrier-free, all its options – career, educational, household, entertainment – all."

"I hope that the resolution adopted today as a result of the forum, which integrates the National Barrier-Free Strategy, will also become a document for all of us, for all decision-makers, for those who will implement these decisions, for our higher quality and, frankly, better life in our country," added Zelenska.

For reference:

The forum in Kyiv is being held by the "League of the Strong" public union thanks to a grant received from the "Support to Civil Society Organizations (CSO)" Program in Ukraine with the financial support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Commonwealth of Nations and Development of Great Britain.

Crown Agents implement the program in partnership with International Alert and in cooperation with Crown Agents in Ukraine.

December 3 is the International Day of People with Disabilities, established by the UN General Assembly.

The International Day of People with Disabilities is not a holiday. Still, it is designed to draw attention to these people's problems, protect their rights, dignity, and well-being, and focus society's attention on the benefits it receives from the participation of people with disabilities in political, social, economic, and cultural life.

This day is a reminder to humanity about its duty to show care and mercy to the most vulnerable part of society – people with disabilities.

As reported, training for instructors of inclusive driving schools and service centers of the Ministry of Internal Affairs took place in Kyiv.

It was also reported that the Ukrainian Railways launched the "Barrier-free literacy" training program for its employees.

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