Kyiv, December 23, 2015. Public activists launched an initiative “Dostupno UA”. It aims at monitoring various institutions on their accessibility for people with disabilities. “We have chosen three core activities of our work: we visit these institutions, check whether they are accessible, and publish our reports with photos,” informed Margo Hontar, co-founder of “Dostupno UA”, journalist, civicactivist, co-founder of “StopFake” initiative, at a press briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center. In particular, the reports detail whether a person can get into the institution without assistance, whether the doors are wide enough, whether there are any obstacles inside and how to handle them, whether it is convenient to sit at the table and make orders, whether restrooms are accessible. The first reports have been published on “Dostupno UA” Facebook page. These are the reports on three cafes Kyiv and one cafe in Dniprodzerzhynsk. Further on the initiative will map institutions of different levels of accessibility.
The activists emphasized that the initiative aims at drawing the owners’ attention to facilitate access to their institutions for people in wheelchairs rather than at making complaints about the institutions. Usually the owners have no idea of the existence of such problems. “Mostly owners say ‘we do not see people with disabilities, why should we provide a wheelchair ramp? And people with disabilities see the absence of ramps and think ‘how can I get there?” says Dmytro Schebetiuk, co-founder of “Dostupno UA”, master of sports (swimming), member of Paralympic team reserve (archery), prize-winner at many Ukrainian swimming championships. – In fact, it is in the owners’ interests to improve, where feasible, because it will expand their audience of visitors. They can serve more clients. The point is not that they owe something to somebody.” He noted that the ability to cope with everything by oneself is very important for self-esteem. That is why many people in wheelchairs avoid going somewhere because of urban space inaccessibility to them. With “Dostupno UA” reports activists plan to show the obstacles which people in wheelchairs encounter in various institutions – “so that they need not be afraid to leave the house,” said Dmitro Schebetiuk. – We have enough people who themselves offer help. It is important to make clear for people with disabilities that despite the obstacles, there are people who will help them.”
According to Margo Hontar, there has been some progress recently: the owners react to entries in books of complaints and proposals, and to reports in Facebook. For example, “Harms” has promised to provide a ramp. “We plan to return to the places where we were – perhaps with journalists, cameras ideas on how to cooperate and improve the situation – she added. – This is a hot topic, and we hope that entrepreneurs and all others who want to join us will take part in this.”
At first, the activists plan to focus attention on cafes and restaurants, although it is obvious that more information is requested. “People began to ask us how to get there, and we realized that the project can be expanded with indication of routes, because this is a separate issue,” added the founders of the initiative. In the future, she added, it is planned to conduct monitoring of museums and theaters as well.