Friday, December 10, 2010

In readying for Paralympics, Sochi sets the standard for barrier-free cities in Russia

From The Voice of Russia:

The capital of the 2014 Winter Olympics and the 11th Paralympics, Sochi, will prove the most comfortable Russian city for disabled people to live in. 1 billion 800 million roubles, or 60 million dollars, are allocated from the federal budget for the purpose. Sochi will set new standards of a barrier-free area for all other Russian cities to follow. The Voice of Russia has the details.

The city authorities are yet to do a lot to meet international requirements for public services and amenities as regards disabled people, says the Sochi Mayor Anatoly Pakhomov and elaborates.

"We are now focused on building accessible infrastructure, effective transport services, and comfortable accommodation of handicapped people, and also ensuring a barrier-free area throughout the Greater Sochi."

The Black Sea resort city has turned into one huge Olympic construction site. All buildings and facilities are designed so as to prove maximally comfortable for disabled people.

Old city buildings are being restored with due regard for the interests of handicapped people by an expressly set-up group of experts, says Anatoly Pakhkomov, and adds this.

" We have set up a group of so-called organizer-architects, 19 all told, who are due to design a barrier-free area, set objectives to all agencies, and control action on the tasks set. We’ll make quite a headway in the field by next summer. Actually, certain change has already been made."

Disabled people will find it more comfortable to live in, in the newly-constructed and/or restored homes, with parking lots for their cars invariably to be built nearby. Special-purpose road signs have been erected all around Sochi, municipal transport stops have been re-equipped, and all buses will either be low-floored or boast ramps for wheelchair invalids to get on or out. Sochi private companies are now trying to come up with a most barrier-free building, one that would prove most suitable to physically handicapped people both for visiting and/or working there.

The new infrastructure that is currently being built in Sochi for the Olympics and Paralympics, will turn the city into a year-round resort place, one that will be fully adapted to disabled people, says Anatoly Pakhomov. But this is also important for everyday life of Sochi residents and guests.

"More than 400 wheelchair invalids, more than 500 people with impaired vision, some 300 people with impaired hearing, and 1,000 disabled children live in Sochi now,"Anatoly Pakhomov says.

The Sochi Mayor is certain that the city will prove truly invalid-friendly when it becomes both a barrier-free area and creates a humane atmosphere. In other words, when Sochi residents become understanding and benevolent with regard to handicapped people. The city Mayor feels that the Paralympics movement, which enables disabled people to display fortitude, is capable of changing people’s attitude towards invalids for the better.