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Study reveals lack of disabled access to public buildings, services in Turkey

ISTANBUL – Daily News with Wires | 11/4/2010 12:00:00 AM |

A study conducted by state bodies working for the disabled found that 70 percent of handicapped people in Turkey report difficulty accessing public buildings and services

A study conducted by state bodies working for the disabled found that 70 percent of handicapped people in Turkey report difficulty accessing public buildings and services, Anatolia news agency reported on Wednesday.

State Minister Selma Aliye Kavaf announced results of a study on preventing disability discrimination on Wednesday. She said a high number of disabled people experience difficulty accessing public spaces and institutions and are exposed to ill treatment at work by their colleagues.

“The study found that 31 percent of disabled people encounter constant discrimination in their work life,” Kavaf said, adding that 77 percent of disabled people have difficulty accessing pedestrian areas and public parks.

Transportation is also stressful for the disabled, who often do not benefit from public transportation because of access issues – 72 percent of people with disabilities in urban areas and 59 percent in rural areas reported transportation problems.

The study, carried out in collaboration with the Prime Ministry’s Handicapped and Human Rights Directorate, illustrated that protecting disabled people from discrimination is a major problem in Turkey.

Disabled people suffer from ill-treatment from strangers, with 65 percent reporting being mocked and 42 percent reporting having been mistreated by public servants. “Thanks to this project, awareness is being raised,” Kavaf said. 

[HH] Mentally disabled suffer most

Among the various forms of disability, people with mental conditions encounter discrimination the most frequently, the research found.

The study surveyed 507 people from among a population of 63,000 disabled people affiliated with 553 associations in 29 Turkish provinces. It revealed that 71 percent of Turkey’s disabled are not aware of legislation regarding their disabilities.

Noting that they need the contribution of everybody to accelerate steps taken in the field of disability services, Kavaf said the study demonstrates that people have significant prejudices toward the disabled which are substantially reflected in daily life.

However, recent amendments to the Central Administration Budget Law introduced affirmative action policies that made the hiring process easier for public servant positions reserved for people with disabilities, Kavaf said, which represents a step toward addressing such prejudices many members of the community still hold toward the disabled.

While the number of disabled public servants was 6,103 in 2002, it reached 10,357 last year, Kavaf said. The number rose to 14,330 this year. “This year, approximately 6,000 new disabled public servants will be appointed.”

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