On June 27 The Media Center initiated an open air panel discussion entitled ‘Issues of People with Disabilities in Yerevan’ at Lovers’ Park. The panelists included Mher Baghdasaryan, Deputy Head of Department of Social Insurance of Yerevan City Administration; Anahit Bakhshyan, Head of ‘Barev Yerevan’ faction of Yerevan City Council; Tamara Poghosyan, Head of ‘Prosperous Armenia’ faction of Yerevan City Council; Arevik Khachatryan, Expert at the NA Standing Committee of Social Issues; Zara Batoyan, Head of National Alliance of Protection of Rights of Persons with Disabilities; and Armen Alaverdyan, Head of ‘Unison’ NGO.
‘The city administration plans to allocate special parking places for disabled people which will be free of charge,' said Mher Baghdasayan, deputy head of Department of Social Insurance of Yerevan City Administration.
Zara Batoyan, head of National Alliance of Protection of Rights of Persons with Disabilities, welcomed the plans to allocate special parking places for disabled drivers. Yet, she expressed concern over the fact that the space for parking is too small for a disabled driver to approach the car and get into it.
'One of the achievements of our faction is considered to be a comprehensive package of solutions to the issues of people with disabilities in city environment, alongside with the re-equipment of transport vehicles,' stated Tamar Poghosyan, head of ‘Prosperous Armenia’ faction of Yerevan City Council, stressing the fact that their faction is a coauthor of the project of allocating special parking places for disabled people.
Mher Baghdasaryan went on presenting the achievements of the City Council and informed the participants about 10 equipped buses to be imported by the city administration in 2014.
'In 2013 Yerevan City Administration announced a tender for re-equipment of buses imported from the Republic of China but no local company managed to meet the requirements,' stated the speaker.
Anahit Bakhshyan, head of ‘Barev Yerevan’ faction of Yerevan City Council, said that the city administration promised to import 10 buses in August. In the meantime, their faction intends to achieve entire accessibility.
Armen Alaverdyan, head of ‘Unison’ NGO, urged architects to design buildings with accessible entrances instead of constructing wheelchair ramps.
'We must use the city budget sparingly as well. Why construct high and expensive wheelchair ramps if it is possible to build easily accessible entrances,' wondered the speaker.
Zara Batoyan is convinced that a mere will is not enough because it is necessary to have legislation amendments and constant monitoring from local authorities.
With respect to possible political abuse over the issue, Armen Alaverdyan recalled, ‘In 2006 the bill on the issue of disability was overturned due to political intrigues. Otherwise, we would now have transport vehicles completely equipped by the funding of private entrepreneurs.’
Mher Baghdasaryan spoke on making the elevators more accessible for disabled people, noting that the city administration prioritizes funding elevators of new constructions.
In the conclusion the speaker emphasized that the 2014 budget allocates more money on making the city disabled-friendly and that the achievements of the present year are a result of joint efforts.