Putin urges more attention to the needs of people with disabilities
“It should go without saying”: Vladimir Putin urged to pay attention to the needs of Russians with disabilities
On 3 December, Vladimir Putin met representatives of public organisations representing people with disabilities.
The Head of State explained that paying attention to the interests and needs of disabled people “should be second nature and regarded as the accepted norm”.
“Since its introduction in 2017, the Presidential Grants’ Fund has organised several competitions which have provided funding for more than 4700 projects aimed at helping people with disabilities, totalling around nine billion roubles. These include programmes for promoting employment opportunities for disabled people, releasing their creative potential and facilitating their participation within inclusive education”, said Putin.
The Russian President added that many measures had been introduced in recent years designed to improve the lives of people with disabilities. He has asked the State Council’s working group on supporting children with families to build on what has been achieved and ensure that the results are made widely known.
Suggestions on how to improve the lives of people with disabilities
A financial advocate
Diana Gurtskaya, Chair of the Public Chamber Commission on an Accessible Environment and Development of Inclusive Practices, told the President that Russia was a world leader in financial services accessibility for the disabled and those with limited mobility. Most leading institutions have adapted their banking services and set up departments to serve disabled clients. “Figures for 2020 show that 70% of people with disabilities believe that financial institutions have amended their practices to cater for their needs”, she explained.
Gurtskaya urged Vladimir Putin to protect the disabled from the actions of fraudsters which, she felt, could include the use of biometric data to confirm the validity of a transaction.
Free education and employment quotas
Sergey Burlakov, Paralympic athlete and First Deputy Chair of the Public Chamber Commission on an Accessible Environment and Development of Inclusive Practices, argued that a disabled person unable to work in his or her profession ought to receive a second education free of charge.
Oleg Smolin, Chair of the All-Russian Movement, Education for All, explained that the number of working people with disabilities had gone down by around 900,000 since 2016, with only 28% of disabled people of working age currently in employment.
Vladimir Putin replied that the government’s Ministry of Labour had already drafted a Bill that would provide a new mechanism to encourage businesses to meet employment quotas for people with disabilities.
Stanislav Ivanov, President of the All-Russian Society for the Deaf, suggested that the President organise the development and production of smart devices for the deaf. He also explained that translation of Russian sign language remains a global problem and urged Putin to take action to increase the number of hours for interpretation.
“People with a hearing impairment in Russia are asking for support for a phased increase in the amount of time interpreters can provide for the deaf. Just imagine: a person currently has the right to receive comprehensive information for just 40 hours (i.e. two days) a year. By way of contrast, our Latvian neighbours have three times this limit (120 hours), with no restrictions at all in most countries”, said Ivanov.
Mikhail Terentyev, Chair of the All-Russian Society for Disabled People, drew attention to what he called ‘a guillotine of regulations’ which from 1 January next year will remove a number of transport rules that are important for people with disabilities. He called on the government to consult public experts before introducing these measures.