How Valožyn becomes more accessible for people with disabilities


EU-funded project “Valožyn without barriers” has been implemented in Valožyn district for 3 years. How the things with making this region more accessible for people with disabilities are going on? Let’s talk about the achievements of this project in 2017 and plans for 2018.

First hostel for people with disabilities in Belarus, accessible nature trail and festival of social integration - what Valožyn is expecting for in 2018?

This year “Valožyn without barriers” is entering the final stretch. Here is what is going to happen throughout the last year of project’s implementation:

  • You’ll discover how do people with disabilities live in Valožyn district, what do they do and dream about in video project “One day from life”. It is going to come out in spring.The project will consist of three videos, each dedicated to life of a specific or heroine.
  • Touristic centre for people with disabilities with a hostel for 20 beds will be opened in summer.
  • At the same time with opening of touristic centre Festival of Social Integration will take place. It is going to gather about 1000 participants. Festival’s programme will be prepared by 60 participants of inclusive camp for people with and without disabilities.
  • The work on creation of specially equipped nature trail for people with disabilities in Naliboki forest will be finished. During the official opening of trail promotional tour for mass media representatives, people with disabilities and tour operators will be organized.

It is expected that Valožyn district give an example of creating and developing social and recreational services accessible to everyone. Also it will foster the understanding of social integration as a process requiring both good working and leisure facilities for people with disabilities. But what was made for this in 2017?

It is real to launch social business project in a regional city

People from Valožyn demonstrated that it is real to launch own social business in a small town is real. Finalists of first startup school presented their achievements to mass media representatives in December. Production of oyster mushrooms, touristic portal about Belarus with possibility to choose objects accessible for people with disabilities, hand-crafted jewelry - read more information about finalists in articles of newspapers “Pracoynaya slava”, “Zviazda”, “Vmeste”. Even then, the startup cool will be continued. New season will be launched next year. The open call for those who want to launch their social or business project is launched there:

How to attract tourists with disabilities?

Equal opportunities for rest is an essential condition for social integration of people with disabilities. Owners of homesteads, representatives of tourism industry, social and museum workers developed touristic products for people with disabilities on training took place in March.

Also contest for social and touristic business was held in spring. 5 winners received 5 thousand euros each for special equipment to make their services accessible for people with disabilities and will present the results in March 2018. For example, tourists with disabilities will be able to take a ride on horse carriage, boat and learn how to bake bread.

Also you can read recommendations on what is important to know in work with people with disabilities in tourism, how to make recreational facilities accessible and what should be taken into consideration in design in this brochure. It was prepared by experts from social, touristic and architectural sphere.

What Valožyn can learn from Bremen?

Why there are more people with disabilities on the streets of German city Bremen than in Belarus? Participants of project’s Working group figured it out during the study visit in August. There is much to learn from German colleagues. For example, public transport in Bremen is equipped with special lifts, museums make their exhibitions accessible for people with different types of disabilities, accessibility of different institutions could be checked in the Internet. Read there the best practices in creation of accessible environment.

In order to get to know which difficulties do Valožyn's residents with disabilities face with in urban space, project’s working group interviewed about 100 people. Now the answers are processing and results will be known in the end of January 2018. Another survey will take place after the end of the project to determine how it affect the life of Valožyn's residents. By the way, Plan of activities for improving the infrastructure and quality of social and recreational services for people with disabilities was released in September 2017 and submitted for implementation by local authorities.