Wednesday, February 16, 2011

In Turkey, website tries to raise awareness about people with disabilities

From Today's Zaman in Turkey:

With a slogan that reads “Siz söyleyin biz işitiriz / bir fısıltınız yeter” (You say it, we hear it/Just one whisper from you is enough), the Internet site has launched its Türkiye Engellilerine Kulak Veriyor (Turkey Listens to Its Disabled) project, an effort bringing together many celebrities from the arts, sports and business communities.

A wide-reaching project aimed at raising awareness of the more than 10 million disabled people in Turkey, the Turkey Listens to Its Disabled effort has used photographs donated by many of the best-known names from the Turkish arts, sports and business worlds to put together a special calendar. The founders of the Internet site have already proclaimed 2011 as the year to remind Turkish society of the many disabled citizens living in the country.

These large-size calendars, boasting special photographs of well-known figures from Turkey, have already been distributed to foundations, schools and disabled citizens in cities and towns all over the country.

Metin Övün, director of the site, notes the primary message intended by these calendars is “We support you and are by your side.” He went on to say, “As part of this project we would like to see awareness raised among other citizens regarding the situations faced by our disabled, and we want there to be at the very least a bit more understanding.”

Övün added: “Under normal conditions, it is more difficult for a disabled citizen to actually see a football player or artist they admire in person, so this project is aimed at making our disabled citizens feel special and to connect them with social life.”

Övün noted that the site was meant to be a platform not only for citizens struggling with disabilities but for all citizens; however, the ultimate aim of the site is to be a voice for every disabled citizen.

Some of the famous names that have given their photographs to the calendar for the Turkey Listens to Its Disabled project include actors Uğur Yücel and Selçuk Yöntem, journalists Ahmet Tezcan and Hıncal Uluç, TV producer Metin Uca; scriptwriter Sırrı Süreyya Önder and singers Leman Sam, Ahmet Özhan and Suavi as well as football players Nihat Kahveci and İbrahim Üzülmez.