People with disabilities – participants of the training “I am a civic leader” in Melitopol, February 2017, © Victor Velychko
Living conditions for people with disabilities in Ukraine are still very difficult. There is a lack of infrastructure, a poor attitude in society towards the disabled and a lack of understanding of their problems and needs. Experts agree that a set of effective measures that would make Ukrainian cities more disability friendly does not require major investment, but that it would call for political will on the part of the Government. The NGO “Social Fund” (Melitopol) has made civic education for adults with disabilities the key topic of the project entitled “Voices of Melitopol for Democracy”, which aims to elaborate and implement a curriculum of non-formal education for adults with disabilities, enabling them to independently lobby for their interests and needs.
The project addresses policy-making processes by enabling and encouraging persons with disabilities to actively participate in democratic processes. Applying a need-based approach, “Social Fund” integrated local decision-makers into all project activities from the very beginning. Committed local politicians and political officials within autonomous local administrative bodies were involved in the project team to contribute to curriculum development and conceptualisation. Active local politicians also contribute to the training by sharing their practical experience as guest speakers. Thus, the project has established a platform for exchange and cooperation between persons with disabilities and local decision-makers – two groups within society which still rarely enter into a dialogue with each other in modern Ukraine. An official municipal strategy for the adjustment of local infrastructures to the needs of persons with disabilities was also elaborated and adapted by the city council of Melitopol.
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