A series of meetings of the working groups on the development of the draft National Strategy for the Barrier-Free Environment started today, February 16. Six expert groups were involved in the large-scale process, which included representatives of central authorities, relevant public organizations, charitable foundations, etc. During the first meetings, the participants discussed two areas - Physical and Social Accessibility.
As a reminder, the decision to establish an interdepartmental working group to develop a draft National Strategy for Barrier-Free Environment in Ukraine was adopted by the Government in pursuance of the Presidential Decree "On Barrier-Free Environment in Ukraine" and within the initiative of First Lady Olena Zelenska.
It comprises nine ministers, a number of MPs, representatives of the Office of the President of Ukraine, public authorities, the National Institute for Strategic Studies, the public and experts. The interdepartmental working group is headed by the Minister for Communities and Territories Development Oleksii Chernyshov.
The participants of the first meeting emphasized on a number of topical issues in the field of "Physical Accessibility", including non-compliance by developers with the State Building Regulations on Inclusion; low level of awareness of officials on issues of accessibility; inability to influence decision-making for Accessibility Committees, etc.
In particular, a member of the working group, architect Sofia Bram, noted that it is important for the specialists involved in the process of designing buildings to receive appropriate education. They need to have a deep understanding of the needs of people with disabilities. Therefore, specialized educational institutions must introduce the discipline of universal design, while architects and engineers must pass an exam to understand accessibility principles.
According to the Chairman of the Board of Pro.UD, UNDP expert Olena Ivanova, business permits should be provided only with clear control over their implementation to encourage compliance with inclusion standards.
Other proposals from the members of the working group include the separation of accessibility standards for private and public transport, the development of standards for accessibility in the field of services, etc.
The second meeting was dedicated to the discussion of "Social Accessibility". It concerns providing decent conditions for the participation of people and social groups in the life of communities, the realization of opportunities to ensure their participation in the process of cultural development, the creation of an environment for self-expression and more. According to a poll by First Lady Olena Zelenska within the Big Talk on Barrier-Free Life, for 56% of Ukrainians, freedom of expression is identified with the concept of accessibility, and 61.2% of respondents have personally encountered social barriers.
The expert consortium, formed by the Center for Economic Recovery, ISAR Unity and the NGO Accessibility, provides analytical and technical support to the interagency working group under the Cabinet of Ministers to develop a National Accessibility Strategy. This work is supported by the UNDP Human Rights for Ukraine Program.
Over the next few days, working group members will discuss four more dimensions of accessibility: educational, civic, digital, and economic. The collected proposals will be included in the draft National Strategy. The document development process is transparent and open.