Target: Ministry of Health
Goal: Remove obstacles for disabled people in Russia
There are 13 million people in Russia who have a disability; this is 9 percent of their population and many of them face daily obstacles in their lives that could be fixed if the Russian government stepped in. With the Winter Paralympics coming to the nation in March 2014, activists are hoping to draw attention to their plight.
A report released by Human Rights Watch documents 123 people with disabilities in 6 different cities. The report details the hurdles they face when going to government offices, shops, healthcare centers, places of employment and public transport. The Russian government has taken steps to improve accessibility for the disabled, however daily life is still a struggle. A law in Russia that obligates the government to ensure that the physical environment and services provided to people are also available to the disabled, and the disabled also have equal opportunity for employment. When Human Rights interviewed people in various cities, like Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Sochi, they found that many men, women and children faced daily barriers. Those who use wheelchairs or crutches were confined in their homes because of broken elevators, or the ramps were far too steep for them to travel on. Unfortunately there were cases of the disabled getting hurt because of steep platforms or lack of reflective markers.
The healthcare provided to the disabled is inferior due to the lack of specialists in the field. There are even some health care workers who refuse to speak directly to their patients. There is also a lack of proper equipment for their examinations. For those that have an intellectual or psychological disability. Some employers discriminate the disabled unfairly even though their disability does not impair their abilities to perform their job. For example, a disable person who has low vision was denied a job as a psychologist because the school believed that she could not see the children and therefore couldn’t work.
Russian law is actually quite strong in regards to what should be provided for the disabled. However the problem lies in what is being implemented for them to participate in society and their work place. If you believe that the disabled in Russia should have more accessibility in their homes and places of employment, sign the petition below to make your voice heard.
Dear Ministry of Health,
I am writing to express concern for the disabled people in your country. It has come to my attention that many disabled people – whether their handicap is physical, intellectual, or psychological – experience many obstacles and barriers in their lives on a daily basis. Interviews conducted by Human Rights Watch have shed light on what these barriers are. Those who are confined to wheelchairs or crutches often cannot leave their homes due to broken elevators or steep ramps. Those who are visually impaired have hurt themselves on train platforms by falling. They also have difficulty finding their way through the streets because of a lack of reflective markers. And even if the disability does nothing to impair their ability to perform a job, many are denied employment because of it. This is discriminatory and unfair to these people.
Your laws are strict in providing care and accessibility for the disabled and yet so few accommodations have been made. Human activists have said that the disabled in your country are invisible and this needs to be remedied. Please consider providing the healthcare that disabled people need, along with their accommodations. These people wish to be a part of society, not confined to their homes.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Igor Tabakov via St. Petersburg Times