President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Friday announced Turkey's "Barrier-Free Vision 2030," a comprehensive document including an action plan for people with disabilities. At an event in Istanbul on International Day of Persons With Disabilities, the president vowed better opportunities for disabled citizens in every field.
The Vision document, spearheaded by the Ministry of Family and Social Policies in cooperation with nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), revealed 107 different actions, concentrating on accessibility. The president, who outlined the plan before a separate event for the assignment of disabled teachers, said it would serve as a guideline for their work until 2030 and along with existing needs, the vision was conceived based on ideas derived from international experience on the issue and successful practices to improve the lives of the disabled.
"We attach importance to accessibility for our disabled sisters and brothers. Our plan will boost their inclusion in daily life, from cultural events and sports activities. It will extend accessibility options in everything, from housing to transportation and communication services. We will remove all obstacles for the disabled aspiring to join politics," Erdoğan said.
The plan also delves into the exploitation, abuse, torture and mistreatment the disabled face. The president said they would introduce measures for efficient protection against such acts and early intervention, as well as legal protection against any discrimination against the disabled, who will be treated equally under laws.
The president also promised the introduction of new health services for the disabled, including new therapy services to address their health concerns and improved assistance for the care of the disabled at home by their families. He said the disabled would also have more access to risk reduction practices, referring to measures for protection against disasters, from earthquakes to floods.
On education, the plan will revise options for children with learning difficulties. Erdoğan said disabled children would have equal access to every level of education with their peers and will have a better monitoring process for improvement of their education. For disabled adults, more lifelong learning courses would be introduced. "We will also develop new employment models and our disabled citizens will have access to the jobs they dreamed of, the more qualified jobs. We will also provide more (financial) assistance to disabled entrepreneurs, and they will be given economic benefits like new tax regulations and income boosts. We are providing economic security for the disabled citizens by establishing a sustainable financial system for them," he said.
Also on Friday, the government unveiled the "Accessible Transportation Strategy and Action Plan" at an event in Istanbul. This new package of policies and concrete steps aims to facilitate life for people with disabilities. Speaking at the event, Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Adil Karaismailoğlu said their aim was to provide integrated, accessible travel for disabled citizens without disruptions on all modes of transportation. It covers all aspects of transportation, from access and terminals to stations and the purchase of tickets as well as arranging intercity travel. Along with the disabled, the plan will also cater to senior citizens with limited mobility.
The plan was announced at Istanbul's Sirkeci train station and foresees a four-year period to implement necessary steps to address the accessibility challenges.
"It is essential to remove obstacles our citizens faced, to encourage their inclusion in social life, for the future of our country," the minister said.
The minister also noted that the accessibility rate was high among privately run buses and buses operated by municipalities, but it was only "14%" among minibuses, a popular means of transportation, especially for side streets. The accessibility rate is the highest in metro stations across the country and lowest at ferry piers.
The plan, drafted after lengthy discussions and workshops, includes strategic goals, including raising awareness, accessibility challenges the disabled face, bolstering administrative measures, inspections, regulation of accessibility services and better-integrated travel on different modes of transportation so the disabled are able to switch between them easily.
The ministry also developed a smartphone app for accessibility that will help the disabled with tasks like travel planning, ticket purchases, live assistance and finding on-site assistance. Currently, people with disabilities already benefit from several options provided by the government, Karaismailoğlu said, pointing out the examples of the delivery of wages to the disabled unable to go to ATM machines to withdraw money and the accessible version of the turkiye.gov.tr, an e-governance portal.