ASTANA – The Mazhilis (lower house of Parliament) ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on Jan. 20 as part of the Kedergisiz Keleshek (Future without Barriers) programme which is being spearheaded by the ruling Nur Otan party.
President of the Kazakhstan Confederation of Disabled People Zhanat Omarbekova spoke about the improvements disabled people are seeing during a presentation of the draft law “On Amendments and Additions to Certain Legislative Acts of the Republic of Kazakhstan on the Protection of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.”
“The head of state gave specific instructions on how to improve the quality of life of people with disabilities. Last year, his party started implementing the Kedergіsіz Keleshek Project. Thanks to this project, a lot of people with disabilities were able to find jobs. A huge amount of work has been done in the framework of the project and the final result was the ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities,” Omarbekova said.
Omarbekova noted that work in the field of inclusive education, as well as the creation of a barrier free environment for the movement of people with disabilities was also part of the party’s project.
“Changes have been made to our building certification procedures pertaining to access for the handicapped. Furthermore, an action plan for improving logistics is underway. Now, there is a mandatory compliance policy for public infrastructure: there must be ramps, handicapped friendly entrances, special tables in food service areas, special booths in public toilets and wheelchair friendly train stations,” she added.
Omarbekova also stated that the parliamentary faction of the Nur Otan party is continuing work on improving existing legislation. A new law on protecting the rights of persons with disabilities is being drafted; it contains 24 amendments to normative legal acts. The party made 77 proposals and amendments.
“We are making changes to our legislation to ensure that the relevant bill contains those items that will protect the rights of persons with disabilities and that they will comply with the provisions of the convention, which aims to protect the rights of people with disabilities. Previously, we only discussed such policies for people with disabilities, but now are taking a legislative approach to the issue,” Omarbekova explained.
People with disabilities are also benefiting economically, according to the head of the Department of Employment and Social Programmes of Astana Lyazzat Abuova. In Astana, 30 percent of people with disabilities are employed.
“Every year, we sign a memorandum of cooperation with our NGOs. Since last year, we have been working on an employment roadmap and fulfilling government social welfare targets. Representatives from various NGOs have drafted important social welfare projects for us,” Abuova said.
According to her, with the help of nongovernmental organisations, a large number of people with disabilities have found themselves in a variety of professions. Last year, 172 disabled people in Astana found work. The plan is to double that number this year.
“We have already employed 30 percent of the 20,000 disabled people living in the city. In 2014, 435 million tenge (USD$ 2.36 million) was allocated from the municipal budget for these projects. All funds were spent on social services. In addition, the city has 14 taxis for disabled people. They carry people in wheelchairs and students studying at inclusive education schools, as well as blind students at the medical college. This service is provided to them free of charge,” Abuova said.
She stressed that this amount in tax is very little for a big city and in 2015, numbers will increase.
According to Kazakhstan law, a disabled person is a person with a persistent disorder in bodily function caused by disease, injury, their own doing and/or birth defects that leads to disability and a need for social protection.
Social protection for disabled persons in Kazakhstan is regulated by the country’s constitution, the law “On Social Protection for Disabled Persons in the Republic of Kazakhstan” and other normative legal acts.
Disabled persons of the first and second categories have reduced working hours limited to no more than thirty six hours per week. They are also provided an additional annual paid leave of up to fifteen working days.