People with disabilities call for more consideration, representation

TUĞÇE KILIÇ
ANKARA
Published 28.02.2019 00:26
Turkey's disabled community comprises 12.9 percent of the total population.
Turkey's disabled community comprises 12.9 percent of the total population.

A more sensitive approach toward disabled people, as well as increasing their representation and participation in municipal decision-making mechanisms, may be key to solving their problems

Disabled people have called for more representation and consultation in the municipalities, hoping that the next candidate of their province would pay attention to them before planning projects while giving priority to addressing the needs of people with disabilities. "All obstacles disabled people encounter can be only resolved through approaching the problems more sensitively, increasing representation and participation in municipal decision-making mechanisms and enhancing inspection mechanisms," said the president of the Ankara-based Foundation of Solidarity for All People with Disabilities and Families (TEDAY), İlimdar Boztaş, who is also a visually impaired individual.

Municipalities should consult people with disabilities before the implementation process of the projects targeting the disabled to increase the effectiveness and applicability of the projects. Touching on the yellow guidelines for blind people as an example, Boztaş underlined that the lines should be rearranged appropriately for the needs of the people. He also stressed that tactile paving should not be uneven and higher than regular paving stones, since in winter ice builds up between the gaps and it also poses an obstacle for wheelchairs. He added the lines should be constructed from anti-slip material that is the same thickness as other paving stones. "If they had consulted disabled people before the implementation process, more appropriate pavement could have been built," he said.

Ankara municipality previously built yellow lines for people with hearing impairments. But they did not last long because the material of the lines was not durable, and the plastic lines were only glued to the paving stones, which eroded under heavy weather conditions over time. The municipality has now replaced most of the lines with more durable tactile paving stones in central districts, while some in other districts still needed to be changed.

Turkey's disabled community comprises 12.9 percent of the population; however, only five people with disabilities were elected in the June 24 presidential and parliamentarian elections. In the previous term there are only two seats in Parliament for people with disabilities, Bennu Karaburun, from the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and Şafak Pavey from the Republican People's Party (CHP). Pointing out that he has also been a Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) member on the Etimesgut City Council since 2014 but was not elected as a candidate in the upcoming March 31 elections, Boztaş emphasized that the majority of the decisions regarding the provincial projects are made in city councils.

Boztaş stressed that municipalities should be in constant contact with nongovernmental organizations and people with disabilities, adding that, "If just at least one member is included in this council, more effective and prompt decisions can be taken for the applicability of projects." He also called for all city councils to include at least one member with a disability for representation or consult nongovernmental organizations regularly for better insight.

Enhancing checks controls to

follow-up projects for disabled"There are a lot of regulations regarding the ramps and schools restrooms for the disabled; however, many comply with these regulations not be fined during the first checks. Later, they use these restrooms as depots or making ramps too steep," he said, emphasizing that such situations can be prevented with continuous checks and controls by municipal authorities.

Commenting on the parking spots of public agencies, Boztaş stated that there are only two or three parking spots reserved for people with disabilities in the municipalities; yet, vehicles of disabled people working for that agency occupy these spots, leaving no room for disabled visitor's automobiles. He underscored many people with disabilities visit municipalities to pay their bills or other daily jobs, yet cannot find a place to park their automobiles; therefore, parking spots re

served for the disabled should be increased.

One of the spheres of life that people with disabilities find difficult is cultural and social activities, such as going to the theater. The disabled want a higher number of social and cultural activities to be tailored to their needs.

Ankara Metropolitan Municipality, for example, established an education and technology center for visually impaired people 14 years ago. The center provides free services, including computers with braille displays and braille keyboards, for 5,775 members. Another example of social activities catered to those with disabilities organized in January, volunteer doctors from a hospital performed a play named "Handan'ın Kısmeti"

[Handan's Fortune] for hearing impaired people by using sign language. The service and rehabilitation center of Ankara municipality also provides wheelchair accessible vehicles, in-house cleaning and care services, consultancy services and some summer camps for people with disabilities.

Currently, the AK Party candidate for Ankara Metropolitan Municipality, Mehmet Özhaseki, who is also supported by the MHP, put emphasis on transforming Ankara into a more accessible city for everyone, including people with disabilities.

Accordingly, regulating pavement and intersections in line with the needs of the disabled, setting up charging stations free of charge for wheelchairs, scaling up audible traffic lamps and transportation vehicles, and making public spaces more accessible with wheelchair ramps and tactile paving are all on the agenda.

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