Disabled people make up around 6 per cent of the total population of Belarus and are often classified as the ‘hidden minority’.
In 2015, Belarus became the last state in Europe to sign the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Yet, there remains a lack of understanding amongst authorities as to the needs of people with disabilities and, as a result, the country lacks safe and accessible transport infrastructure, which prevents disabled people from engaging in daily activities, traveling safely and reaching their potential as active citizens
Recognising this serious issue, EASST partner, the Belarusian Auto Moto Touring Club (BKA) have launched a project aimed at promoting road safety and mobility as “an inherent right and equal opportunity for all people in Belarus”
In May 2016, the BKA conducted a series of surveys amongst people with disabilities in Minsk to assess the key barriers to mobility in the city. Participants reported that trolleybuses and other modes of transport were often not adapted for wheelchair users. For this reason, disabled people usually travel by car. However, parking then becomes an issue as many drivers pay little attention to disabled parking bays – preventing disabled drivers from using these areas.
The BKA, in cooperation with local road traffic police, have also held various awareness raising events to promote the issue, including organising a marathon to support disabled people as well as campaigning at the Minsk Zoo on the International Day for People with Disabilities.
The BKA plan to continue this work over the coming months to promote better cooperation and partnership in solving mobility issues for people with disabilities in Belarus.