An unusual event simulating the experience of people with disabilities using wheelchairs was held on Primorskiy boulevard in Baku. Everyone who wished to do so could experience the difficulties that people with disabilities encounter.
An approach for using wheelchairs and hurdling various barriers was presented during the event. The event started from training and improving wheelchair movement skills, including such complex elements as stair climbing and descending, using an escalator, curbs passage, cross-country movement, and relocation from a wheelchair to a bed, bath, or car with subsequent independent retraction of the wheelchair. This provides a person with disabilities an opportunity to be independent upon from outside help or minimize such dependence, and lead an active life.
The project has been implemented by the Center for Development and Support “Independent Life” (“Müstəqil həyat” İnkişaf və Dəstək Mərkəzi) together with the Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Labor and Social Protection, with the support of the Azerbaijan Office of the Eurasia Partnership Foundation (EPF) and Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. A similar event was held in Azerbaijan for the first time as part of the Public Campaign on Equality of People with Disabilities: The Barrier-Free Environment project.
During the event opening, CSO “Müstəqil həyat” Chairman Aidyn Khalilov stated that the main goal of the project is to draw public attention to the problem of people with disabilities, and train them how to use a wheelchair freely.
The uniqueness of the training methodology is that the instructors who train how to use a wheelchair have a perfect command of using this technical aid. They know well how to explain, demonstrate and train a person with disabilities, instilling confidence in their students in the need and capability of learning to use a wheelchair. People with disabilities are also trained in providing mutual assistance and organizing help from people around them. An individual rehabilitation program is prepared for every person according to anthropometric data, and the physical abilities of the person with disabilities who will be using a wheelchair. In addition to the rehabilitation work, a cultural and development program is featured that combines physical and creative ‘loads’ in an interesting playful form. Sports and other events are subject to the main purpose – to train in free usage of a wheelchair.
During the event, some of the participants sat down in wheelchairs and tried to navigate various barriers, expressing their support for the project. Among them were Onno Kervers, Ambassador of the Netherlands to Azerbaijan, Mugalib Makhmudov, director of the legal education sector of the Ombudsman Office of Azerbaijan, and others.
Speakers emphasized the importance of implementing the project for integration of people with disabilities into public life. Among guests were representatives of the Azerbaijan Office of EPF, Ministry of Labor and Social Protection of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the State Committee for Family, Women and Children’s’ Problems, and local public organizations.
To conclude the event, a concert program was presented with the participation of popular young singers. Among them were prize winners of various national and international festivals, category one disabled person Murad Sadykh, as well as Nuray, Gamida and others.