By Andrea Shettle, MSW | January 3, 2009
Countries that have chosen to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (
are now required to protect the right of people with disabilities to
; and to an
environment. But disabled people in the South-Eastern countries of Europe, such as Kosovo, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia,
Albania, Croatia, and Hungary, are often denied the right simply to move from one place to another on the same basis as other people in their society.
They lack mobility aids such as prosthestic devices, wheelchairs, and crutches; public buildings, and even their own homes, are not accessible to them;
and neither is public transportation.
People who wish to learn more about the conditions that limit the mobility of people with disabilities in South East Europe–and what can be done to improve
their situation–can consult a report entitled “
Free movement of people with disabilities in south east Europe (http://wecando.wordpress.com/2008/08/20/report-personal-mobility-accessibility-for-disabled-people-in-south-east-europe/an%20inaccessible%20right?: an inaccessible right?
” (PDF format, 1 Mb) This report addresses the mobility and accessibility needs of people with mobility impairments; people who are blind or have vision
impairments; people with intellectual disabilities; and deaf people. The 124-page report was published by Handicap International in 2006.
The first part of the report discusses the current situation, and barriers, faced by people with various disabilities in South East Europe. The second part
describes good practices that have successfully made the environment more accessible for people with disabilities throughout the region. The third part
discusses the importance of awareness raising; the laws and policies needed to improve the situation; the need for training in universal design; and the
importance of including people with disabilities in planning all new construction. The report closes with a series of recommendations.
The full report can be downloaded for free in
People interested in creating accessible environments, and in the principles of universal design, may also be interested in learning about a
free, on-line book on Universal Design and Visitability (http://wecando.wordpress.com/2007/11/24/resource-book-on-universal-design-and-visitability/.