ASTANA – Wheelchair user, blogger and Elaman Social Fund for Social Innovation Projects chairperson Almaz Yerzhan knows the challenges of getting around the capital. His project, an inclusive design centre to help wheelchair users find jobs and adapt socially, recently opened in the city.
The fund received support from the capital administration to create a barrier-free environment for those with disabilities.
“The administration rented out an office for a very low price. Later, we found backers who helped us with the required equipment for wheelchair users. Why did we call it the centre of inclusive design? Our purpose is to change the city, make it more comfortable for disabled people,” he said.
The centre will develop seven areas. The education programme will organise seminars and lectures about an accessible environment for wheelchair users. The founders plan to launch an information and social website (www.inva.kz) and provide a consultation office offering free psychological and employment assistance to individuals with disabilities.
“We are waiting for motivated people who are eager to change their lives. You can earn money and do your business even sitting in a wheelchair or lying in a bed, thanks to the Internet,” he added.
The centre will include a creative rehabilitation club and call centre for psychological support. The project will also suggest social entrepreneurship internships and explain the rights of people with disabilities.
Beeline, a telecommunications company, will be providing laptops and free high-speed Internet for the centre through its Unlimited Possibilities project.
“Innovations help to improve the lives of people with disabilities. We are very pleased to help people with strong life positions as well as be part of a progressive project to change the life of the city,” said CEO of Beeline Company in Kazakhstan Alexander Komarov.
The centre will provide great benefits to people with disabilities, noted Vice Minister of Labour and Social Welfare Svetlana Zhakupova.
“There should be access to the realisation of all rights without any discrimination, including constitutional rights, electoral rights, education and rights that lead to social benefits. I think the centre will generate new ideas,” she said.
The city’s employment and social protection office reported 774 out of 1,106 facilities were not accessible to people with disabilities. To date, 506 have been improved, said representative Ilya Sukub.
The penalty for non-compliance with the standards varies from 50-400 monthly calculation index; this year’sindex is 2,405 tenge ($7.20). In 2016, the city budget received 1.2 million tenge ($3,600); in 2017,less than 900,000 tenge ($2,700) for the violations.