Middle East Apr 30, 2012
ISTANBUL: A regulation that imposes obligations on municipalities with regards to addressing deficiencies in providing access for persons with disabilities will come into force on July 7 and municipalities that fail to fulfill these obligations could possibly face legal action.
A law relating to access for persons with disabilities took effect in 2005, and Turkey’s municipalities were given seven years to comply with the regulations, which were aimed at helping the country’s 9 million persons with disabilities. With the deadline on July 7, 2012, the Interior Ministry has reminded the municipalities and governors’ offices of these requirements.
Authorities will oversee the municipalities’ compliance with the regulations, and those with disabilities will have the right to file court cases against municipalities and other public institutions that fail to comply.
Speaking at a meeting jointly organized by the Ministry of Family and Social Policy and the Turkish Municipalities Union on Saturday in Antalya, Kenan Önalan, head of the Sesli Betimleme Derneği (Association for Audio Narration) and blind himself, said municipalities have to make life easier for persons with disabilities and that if they do not make the necessary arrangements, disabled citizens will have the right to take legal action.
“Turkey has made progress in many areas, but fails to make the same progress towards making life easier for persons with disabilities,” Önalan said, adding that he does not bemoan his blindness but municipalities’ lack of awareness towards persons with disabilities.
One of the leading problems persons with disabilities face in Turkey is the lack of transportation with facilities for persons with disabilities. The obligations of the municipalities include making public transportation vehicles suitable for use by persons with disabilities. The regulation also prohibits municipalities from purchasing vehicles that are not disabled-friendly while urging them to modify their existing fleet.