The Ministry of Family, Labor and Social Services launched a new project that will offer personal sign language assistance for hearing impaired citizens.
The project introduced on Monday will assign a sign language interpreter to each citizen in need, particularly for paperwork and bureaucratic procedures. Family, Labor and Social Services Minister Zehra Zümrüt Selçuk said in a statement that their branches in 81 provinces will receive requests from hearing impaired citizens for interpreters. “Thus, they can visit a notary, a bank or a public agency for paperwork in the company of the interpreter, who will help them with their tasks. They just need to file a request to (the local branch of the ministry) to get an interpreter assigned to them,” she said.
Currently, the project is in its pilot stage in 32 provinces as part of the Year of Accessibility declared last year, but the ministry plans to expand it to all 81 provinces. “This project aims to remove communication problems and to provide a better inclusion to social life for disabled individuals. It grants more accessibility and a more proper, faster way for our citizens to have their needs addressed at public agencies,” she said.
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 Services 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.
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