3 november 2010

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin holds a meeting on handicapped accessibility

Vladimir Putin

At a meeting on handicapped accessibility

“The government must reduce and, if possible, fully remove the remaining obstacles for people with disabilities. I’m referring to everything that prevents them from using transport and public services, receiving education and medical aid, pursuing a career and being in demand on the labour market, and addressing government institutions and authorities of any level without a problem.”

Vladimir Putin's opening address:

Today we'll discuss handicapped accessibility. We'll resume the discussion of a subject that concerns millions of Russian citizens and determines their quality of life and social opportunities. As I said, we'll talk about handicapped accessibility.

Let me point out that in the last few years we have drafted a modern legislative framework to ensure the rights of disabled people. We have updated pension legislation and resumed the system for calculating pensions based on disability groups at the request of disabled people.

We have also introduced special monthly payments and a special social package for people with disabilities. This benefits package includes free medicine, free spa treatment and free travel on commuter trains.

Finally, Russia signed the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2008, and ratified the European Social Charter in 2009. Therefore, we are now guided by the highest world standards.

Now the government must reduce and, if possible, fully remove the remaining obstacles for people with disabilities. I'm referring to everything that prevents them from using transport and public services, receiving education and medical aid, pursuing a career and being in demand on the labour market. They must also be able to address government institutions and authorities of any level without a problem.

It goes without saying that the creation of greater handicapped accessibility will be of major importance not only for the handicapped but also for other categories of citizens, for instance, pensioners, young mothers with children and so on.

We already have some experience with this. In preparing for the Olympic Games in Sochi we are putting special emphasis on building comfortable, accessible facilities for people with limited abilities. I'm confident that both the Olympics and the 11th Paralympics will go off extremely well.

In addition, some regions are already carrying out special programmes to improve handicapped accessibility. This applies to Moscow, St Petersburg, and the Nizhny Novgorod, Kemerovo and Smolensk Regions.

This experience must be extended to every part of the country. We must create social conditions and living standards for people with disabilities that will make them feel comfortable in daily life, in education and the workplace. And this should be a new level of infrastructure based on the latest technology.

Needless to say, it will take years to build this up, but there is no point in postponing this task. And we are not going to delay this.

I've mentioned technical solutions for transport and housing. And perhaps we must do something special, but on the whole we must simply be more attentive to these problems. It is very simple to create comfortable conditions for people while building new houses and facilities or reconstructing the old ones. This does not require large sums of money or some special technical equipment. I've just been to the village of Verkhnyaya Vereya in the Nizhny Novgorod Region, which was rebuilt after the wildfires. Access ramps were installed there in the local shop and an obstetrical clinic. Doing this cost next to nothing. We must simply pay attention to this issue.

The government is planning to launch its Accessibility Programme in 2011. The federal budget for 2011-2013 allocates more than two billion roubles for its implementation – 2.3 billion roubles to be exact. We plan to spend 10 billion roubles per year for this purpose in 2014-2015. One of the programme's priorities is to help handicapped students. Unfortunately, currently only a little more than two percent of our schools are equipped for children with limited abilities, meaning that they have the necessary facilities, conveniences and equipment.

We intend to drastically change this situation. By 2016, 20% of Russian schools should have standard conditions for the joint education of children with limited abilities and their peers. And in the future all of our educational institutions must be accessible to handicapped people.

There is one more urgent problem. Disabled people continue to complain about the work of the Medical and Social Examination Service. The service often adopts a formal, bureaucratic approach to disabled people, it lacks a human touch. This service must drastically improve its performance.

I'd like to emphasize that time for completing the Accessibility Programme is running out. I'd like the Ministry of Healthcare and Social Development and other departments to resolve the disputed issues as soon as possible. They must finalise the programme in close contact with public associations of the disabled and take into account all of their constructive proposals.

In tackling the long-term goals of supporting people with limited abilities, we shouldn't forget about what we can do now.

I'm constantly receiving information about the actual problems facing disabled people. Every report must be carefully reviewed and conclusions should be drawn from them. We must consider them in preparing to adopt new solutions.

We have a programme of incentives for creating jobs for people with disabilities. This year the government is paying 30,000 roubles to employers for each new job. We will continue this programme and further increase the bonus. Employers will receive 50,000 roubles for each new job next year.

While we were implementing our anti-crisis measures, I noted that when decisions were being made to reduce production costs, jobs for disabled people were the first to be cut. I visited AvtoVAZ a year ago. One of its companies, Avtozhgut, which employed people with limited abilities, was the first to lose contracts. But, thank God, the governor intervened and now the regional budget will reimburse this company by paying interest on the loans that it took out to modernize production. The company will continue with modernization and keep its place in the AvtoVaz production chain. But this is only one example. I'd like to send the message to executives at all levels that such practices are inadmissible. Instead of shutting down production, they should help such companies get back on their feet, become modern, technologically advanced and competitive. And this can be done if we give it proper attention.

Several months ago my colleagues and I visited a company that is organized by the Moscow Public and Business Centre for Disabled People. This is also a good example to follow. This company has dozens of modern, well-paid jobs.

And the last point: In the 2011 federal budget we intend to increase government support for public associations of the disabled to about one billion roubles.

Let's get down to work.