Thursday, June 26, 2008

Russia looks to integrate people with disabilities into society

Vera Samykina, 17, has cerebral palsy and is schooled at home
because getting outside is so difficult.
An in-depth story from The Washington Post June 26:

People with disabilities are literally almost invisible in Russia, isolated in homes, special schools and sheltered workshops. It is a rare event to see a person in a wheelchair or a blind person or someone with Down syndrome out and about on the streets of a Russian city.

Halfhearted attempts to encourage the employment of the disabled by setting quotas for businesses have faltered. Most employers preferred to pay the low fines for failing to meet quotas rather than actually hire disabled people, according to advocates for people with disabilities.

Long after Western countries began concerted efforts to mainstream the disabled in both education and employment, Russia is only beginning to seriously explore the task.
"This is an issue we did not talk about at all for a long time," President Dmitry Medvedev said last month at a meeting with government ministers and advocates for the disabled. "We have the . . . task of providing disabled people with comfortable living conditions and creating a developed rehabilitation system so that they can take a full part in life."