Creation and observance of the norms of barrier-free environment is one of the most important goals of the organizations dealing with the problems of disability. Unfortunately, in our society this problem hasn’t been solved yet.
In November in the frames of the project “Creation of barrier-free environment monitoring instrument” participants of the coalition “Accessibility” (Belarusian society of disabled, Office for the rights of persons with disabilities, Gomel organization of spinal-disabled and Republican association of wheelchair-bound disabled) together with invited experts (representatives of the architectural faculty of BNTU and the head of Minsk bicycle society) held trial monitoring of barrier-free environment with the help of created during the project monitoring forms.
“There are a lot of documents, regulating the norms of barrier-free environment. There are lots of pages of constructions norms and regulations – comments the situation the manager of the project “Creation of barrier-free environment monitoring instrument” Galina Krot. – But they are very difficult for understanding for common citizens. And barrier-free environment is important not only for persons with disabilities. It is important for mothers with strollers, bicyclists, elderly people and children. For many categories of citizens our underpasses and unequipped ramps are a huge obstacle for normal moving and it means for full independent life. That is why we decided to create universal and understandable barrier-free environment monitoring instrument. The form includes not more than 20 questions for every object. Any person can answer these question using tape measure and eyes. Today we have tested not only the objects of infrastructure but also the form“.
Having divided in two groups the participants held monitoring of a building and underpass, pedestrian crossing, sidewalk and footpath in the district of Voronyanskogo and Chkalova streets.
“Unfortunately all the checked objects don’t correspond with the norms of barrier-free environment – comments the situation the coordinator of the Office for the rights of persons with disabilities Sergei Drozdovskiy. – In some cases we even didn’t need to use tape measure to say it. Our underpasses, especially slopes and handrails situated a meter lower than the entrance are the instruments testing the physical abilities of a person, his ability to survive. Even after such a test monitoring we have to admit that that the observance of the norms of barrier-free environment is still not even close to worldwide practices”.
The participant of the project Andrei Banukh shared his impressions after having used the tested ramps: “I am a rather athletic person and I hardly managed to do it! In order to get to the ramp in the underpass the handrails must be longer or a person has to have very long hands! And all the norms for such ramps are written in 4 different documents adopted by the Council of Ministers. And I should say that there are about 90% of such ramps”.
After the monitoring its participants gathered to discuss the form as an instrument of barrier-free environment monitoring. “The first test showed that the form should be made more simple, some special terms should be explained” – Galina Krot commented the results of the discussion.
We remind that the realization of the project “Barrier-free environment monitoring” has started in July 2012. The project is aimed at the creation of barrier-free environment monitoring instrument and its usage. In the frames of the project coalition “Accessibility” and invited experts are holding analyses of existing and used barrier-free environment monitoring instruments and will prepare “Handbook for holding monitoring of barrier-free environment”. They will hold pilot using of monitoring instrument and present the results to public.