Russian with disabilities ask for separate online social network

News, January 19 2012

MOSCOW, RUSSIA: Organizations for people with disabilities in Moscow have asked the authorities to launch an online social network for disabled people, the Izvestia daily said on Monday.

“The social security department will announce a tender for the portal in March 2012. The project will cost 1.05 million rubles [$32,000],” the paper said.

Valery Shkolnikov, deputy chief of the Moscow branch of the Russian disabled association, said experts of the organization would soon discuss the details of the project with officials. About 1.2 million people with disabilities live in Moscow.

“The interface of the social network for people with disabilities should be similar to Odnoklassniki or VKontakte. The difference is that there should be an option for describing one’s illness and a special version for blind people,” the paper quoted Shkolnikov as saying. Odnoklassniki and VKontakte are Russian-language social networks similar to Facebook.

Public organization representatives said disabled people are often restricted in their movements and the internet is the only option for them to contact the world.

“The majority of them are locked within four walls… but they all have computers, especially in Moscow,” said Svetlana Kesareva, deputy head of the Association Organizations for Young Disabled.

She said people with hearing disabilities and find it hard to hold a conversation by telephone or other voice communication devices.

The paper said the Moscow legislature supports the idea.

“I’ve been working closely with organizations for disabled people, we will discuss the possibility but I don’t expect any problems with its implementation,” said Yevgeny Gerasimov of the Moscow parliament’s commission for healthcare.

In 2009, Moscow authorities said much had to be done to improve the quality of life for disabled people. In 2011, about 70% of the buildings in Moscow were revamped for disabled access. About 37% of Moscow transport is low-floor and the government intends to reach the figure of 80-85% over the next five years.


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