The discussion was attended by Rudolf Zabrodin, disabled people’s rights defender; Armine Ghazaryan, sociologist; and Meline Nahapetyan, representative of the OSCE Office in Yerevan.
Armenia ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities four years ago. However, Seryozha Ohanjanyan said since then there has been little progress in building a more inclusive and accessible Armenia. Higher education institutions are not accommodated with wheelchair ramps. In addition, students with vision and hearing impairment have difficulties in finding appropriate learning materials. Rudolf Zabrodin added that “universities unofficially tell a disabled person that they cannot provide them with education.”
Armine Ghazaryan believes “it is high time we rejected the Soviet mentality when parents are ashamed of their disabled children.” The project “Improvement of Education for Disabled People as Motivation” implemented by EKHO Support Center aims to ensure equal conditions for disabled people at educational institutions.
According to Meline Nahapetyan, building wheelchair ramps at higher education institutions is not enough to solve all problems. Thus, a possible solution may be a joint program with, for instance, two universities. She added “since Armenia joined the Bologna education agreement, we have a principle of mobility. So, students with disabilities may have certain lectures at another university.” The suggestion was to put into practice a joint program with two or three universities to consequently enlarge the scope of activities.
The head of EKHO greeted the proposal and considered it for further discussion.
At the end of December, 2014 the representatives of EKHO support center intend to publish a report including the surveys conducted so far and proposals and present it to corresponding higher education institutions and authorities.