Friday, October 12, 2012

Accessible Youth Services

Organization Accessible Environ-ment For Everyone, with the support of UNICEF and the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs, has implemented the project "Accessible Youth Services". 

To create a healthy society and develop the democracy values, respecting, meeting the rights of persons with disability, their equality, allowing them to engage in social life actively are of great importance. As the physical environment is not adapted to their needs, majority of people with disability can’t move around the public places. This is a huge problem not only for the wheelchair users. Being locked in their houses makes them less visible. Process of precise identification of the problems, people with disability have to cope, becomes a major challenge.

In 2011 the Ministry of sport and youth affairs of Georgia, with the support of UNICEF, created an online database of youth services “E-Services”. This database is still growing and contains huge amount of interesting and useful information for the youth. But the accessibility of these services for the youth with disability remained unclear, because there were no means for the interested person to browse services by their accessibility. Besides, service providers were unable to provide clear information as well, because they had no knowledge and information about the accessibility standards. Usually lack of information is a bigger problem than the lack of funding for adaptation.

Organizing the free time is especially acute problem among the young people with disability, because of the inaccessibility of the entertainment and holiday activities for wheelchair users. Meanwhile leaving the houses and contacting with the society is the main point for psychological rehabilitation of people with disability. The accessibility of services provided via “E-Services” will be a crucial step towards the integration of young people with disability into the society and realization of their rights.

Taking this situation into account, the project “Accessible Youth Services” was worked out. Project was supported by UNICEF and the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs.

All service providers and service providing locations given in a database were checked up within the project. Among 95 service providers across the country, providing 405 services, there are only 8 of them that are accessible to wheelchair users. More detailed monitoring results and the information about accessible services you can get from the video below:

The situation is not good enough, but 30 service providers were defined as simply adaptable. These cases are absolutely possible to make accessible with minimum costs and effort, that will allow everyone to use their services.

Memorandum of understanding between the NGO Movement Accessible Environment for Everyone and LEPL Children and Youth National Center was signed within the project. Memorandum expresses the collaboration between above mentioned parties to consider and respect the rights of persons with disability in the online database of youth services.

An accessibility component was added to the data base and all the accessible services were marked as accessible to wheelchair users.

On December 24 Movement Accessible Environment for Everyone and Children and Youth National Center held the joint final presentation. To display the different youth services and visualize the new portal’s virtual space, showroom was arranged. Guests had an opportunity to engage in various competitive activities going on in the showroom sections of basketball, dancing, painting, photography, literature etc. During the second part of the presentation winners, including young persons with disability, were awarded.

We had to overcome certain complications while implementing the project. These are general complications that the persons with disability, their relatives and organizations working on these issues have to cope in everyday life: low level of public awareness, stereotypes, nihilistic and even negative attitudes towards the persons with disability and their abilities, low level of informedness with regard to their needs. Overcoming these complications is a long-term process and still requires much work to do. Implementing the project “Accessible Youth Services” and support from UNICEF was of great importance in the way to achieve this goal.


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