As the government-declared Year of Accessibility draws to a close, the Ministry of Family, Labor and Social Policies takes another step to recognize efforts for better services to people with disabilities. Public agencies, companies and individuals providing exemplary services on the matter will be awarded by the ministry on Dec. 3, International Day of Disabled Persons.
The awards aim to promote projects that help include people with disabilities in social and economic life. The ministry will hand out awards in nine categories, from accessibility designs to digital apps, public services, universities, workplaces offering accessibility services, as well as accessible local administration services, corporate projects, scientific works and accessible media content.
Though social inclusion is viewed as key for improving the lives of people with disabilities, they often face obstacles in accessibility. For instance, a lack of ramps for wheelchairs and cars parked in parking spaces for the disabled or in lanes on sidewalks designated for disabled citizens hinder accessibility for many.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan declared 2020 as the Year of Accessibility, and the government stepped up efforts toward that goal, drafting new policies and regulations. The Ministry of Family, Labor and Social Policies spearheaded the efforts including new rules for accessibility everywhere from shopping malls, airports, public buildings to gyms and bus terminals. The ministry also issued a new set of guidelines for inspection of compliance with accessibility rules. Committees set up in every province monitor revisions to buildings and vehicles to ensure accessibility.
Starting from Jan. 1, 2021, accessibility services will be mandatory for every building that has applied for a construction permit. Any building with a space larger than 800 square meters (8,610 square feet) will be required to provide enough space for restrooms for the disabled. In crowded venues like shopping malls, airports, train and bus terminals, restrooms will be mandatory. In conference halls, cinemas and similar venues, spaces for disabled people will be mandatory.
The ministry also issued new guidelines for “yellow lines” installed on the ground for visually-impaired citizens. In mass transit vehicles, audio systems alerting passengers are mandatory and will be subject to inspections.