Empowering Young Visually Impaired to Stand-Up for Inclusive Policy Reforms
project funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union
To: The City Hall and Local Council of Cluj-Napoca,
Babilon Travel NGO, having its headquarters in Cluj- Napoca, 15/64 Piata Cipariu, represented by Gabriel Nagy- CEO, is developing, between August 1, 2017- January 31 2018, the international project “Empowering Young Visually Impaired to Stand Up for Inclusive Policy Reforms” (EMVISION), having as partners:
- City Hall of Cluj-Napoca Romania;
- Department of Social and Medical Assistance Cluj Romania;
- Polski Zwiazek Niewidomych (Association of the Blind Poland);
- Youth of Europe Poland;
- Autonomia e Descoberta Portugal;
- Center for Youth Activism CYA KRIK FYRO Macedonia;
- LADO Cluj Romania;
- Unique Projects Lithuania.
The project is financed by the European Union‘s Erasmus + Programme.
The main activity of the EMVISION Project took place between October 29 – November 5, 2017 and consisted in a transnational meeting for structural dialogue, held in Cluj-Napoca, gathering 37 young participants and decision makers, with or without disabilities, coming from five European countries: FYRO Macedonia, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal and Romania.
During the activities and starting from concrete situations already existing in their countries of origin and among their local communities, the participants draw up specific proposals regarding the improvement of local policies on the inclusion of visually impaired / blind young people, in the local community of Cluj-Napoca, raising their level of mobility and, thus, facilitating their access chances to working places or entrepreneurial initiatives.
At the end of the activities, on November 3rd, at 11:30 a.m., these proposals were hand over to the representatives of the Cluj-Napoca City Hall and Local Council, with the request that the above-mentioned institutions should consider them when working out future decisions, regulations or local projects involving the young blind / visually impaired people from Cluj-Napoca.
So far, while working on the project, we have identified the following elements that can be included in the
- Increasing accessibility to bus stops:
- Vocal announcements of in-coming buses, by adding this function to the already existing visual displaying system;
- Endowment of the means of public transportation with a Bluetooth beacon and developing a mobile phone application that would inform the blind people from the bus stops on all arrivals;
- Setting of tactile carpets; Establishing yellow tactile carpet zones / areas at bus stops, which should be positioned in a visible spot for the driver – designated for people with disabilities. Disabled people will be more visible for the bus driver who should stop next/ in from of the spot.
- Mark the edges of the bus stops with visible yellow marks and tactile surfaces.
- Raising awareness among the local community regarding the specific needs of the blind / visually impaired young people. In this respect, the Info Traffic Service from the bus stops could broadcast messages concerning the access of guide dogs both on the means of public transportation and in all public spaces (such as: institutions, hotels, restaurants, shops etc.), as well as the function of the yellow marked areas at the bus stops;
- Initiating a campaign for placing information stickers in various public places (bus stops, public institutions, buses, supermarkets), with messages referring to the rights of the disabled and the free access of their accompanying guide dogs (cf. Law no. 448/2006, Art. 64);
- Identifying means of making hyper- and supermarkets sensitive to the difficulties that the blind or visually impaired people face when reading price tags from the shelves. One possible solution could be the introducing of tactile price tags and using bigger printed characters, or offering a personal support person/ assistant throughout the shopping session.
- Making streets infrastructure more accessible by:
- Setting of tactile carpets more appropriately and widely, especially at the crossroads, zebra crossings and in-between the pedestrian and cycling lanes, like those already existing in the city;
- Increasing the number of acoustic traffic lights;
- Marking out working areas set in public places and replacing today’s plastic bands with stiff materials / bars that can easily be detected by the blind;
- Painting/ marking the edges of the first and last steps/ stairs in the city
- Making desks and other public service places more accessible by:
- Vocal announcements of the order numbers;
- The possibility of printing, at request, the invoices and other relevant documents both in regular Latin alphabet and in Braille;
- Consulting some institutions and organizations specialized in the field of young blind or visually impaired people, and their beneficiaries, when there is a plan for making some public areas more accessible (for example, the Romanian Blind People Association, Cluj-Napoca Subsidiary, the Special Psycho-Pedagogy Department from the Psychology Faculty or other various dedicated NGOs);
- A clearer definition of the terms: “spaces”, “buildings”, “public service places” (are the restaurants, supermarkets, hotels, stadiums etc. also included, according to Law 448/ 2006, Art. 5, Par.13?); Although it is not in local jurisdiction, it would be desirable to encourage its promoting on a higher level of authority;
- The City Hall should give license only to the taxi companies that provide special equipped cars for people with disabilities (for example, visually impaired people with guide dogs);
- Signing by the City Hall of specific agreements with service providers concerning the issues of guide dogs and the necessary facilities granted to the blind;
- A precise defining of the guide dogs status in Cluj-Napoca municipality area, taking into account that the Rules describing the dog ownership and the access of the blind people accompanied by dogs in our city contain references only to service dogs and none to guide dogs. In this context, the establishing of a monthly allowance for guide dogs food in Cluj-Napoca would be appropriate, based on the individual services plan described by Art.5 of the Law 448/2006.
- The Local Council and the City Hall should prevent through regulations that the advertisements should not interfere with the flashing traffic lights;
- Upgrade the bike rental system with tandem bikes;
- All-important buildings and monuments should have miniature replicas next to the originals, all on the same scales, accompanied by a description in Braille;
- In strategic places there should be informative tactile maps accompanied by a description both in regular and in Braille;
- The City Hall should eliminate all traffic signs and advertisement panels on the sidewalks that are lower than 2 meters.
Cluj-Napoca, 03 November 2017 Asociația Babilon Travel