Improving information provision for people with disabilities
“A wheelchair is only a different way of moving around,” says Audrius Kalvėnas. He is working with the Lithuanian Union of Persons with Disabilities to help improve the lives of people with reduced mobility.
Five years ago, Audrius broke his neck in a diving accident and is now in a wheelchair. He cannot feel his legs, but after two years of intensive training and physiotherapy, he has got 80% functionality back in his upper body. Today Audrius drives a car and takes care of himself and his daughter. It was when he was hospitalised that he got in contact with Lithuanian Union of Persons with Disabilities:
“I was looking for more information and then I got in contact with Rasa Kavaliauskaitė, the President of the Lithuanian Union of Persons with Disabilities. She was wondering about my future prospects. Now I work for them,” Audrius explains.
The project Adrius is working on is called ‘Without Thresholds’. The project aims to reintegrate persons with reduced mobility by making it easier for them to get information on the accessibility of public buildings and other important places. As part of the project, three persons from the Lithuanian Union of Persons with Disabilities check out different sites – such as schools, hospitals and other public buildings - in the districts of Vilnius, Šiauliai and Kaunas to assess their accessibility. Adrius, who checks sites in the district of Kaunas, is generally happy with how they are being received:
“We always call them in advance and book a date. Then, when we arrive to see how the site is adapted to people with disabilities, like for example the entrance, elevators and handicap toilets, we normally get a very positive reception. It is not the lack of will that is the problem, rather the lack of knowledge and financial resources.”
Audrius Kalvėnas is checking sites in the district of Kaunas (Photo: Lithuanian Union of Persons with Disabilities)
The information collected from these visits is published on the website www.beslenksciu.lt, which also provides an online map and guidelines on adapting public spaces to the disabled. This has also proved useful for architects, designers and other professionals when they are creating an environment adapted to the needs of disabled people. The website has its own administrator and is being updated frequently
“This is a very valuable online tool which is directly benefiting a large number of people with disabilities. We are currently also working to make the website accessible in English so that also visitors from abroad can make use of it,” Adrius says.
The Lithuanian Union of Persons with Disabilities is also monitoring legislation and campaign actively for the rights of disabled people. An education programme, ‘Discover Disability’, and a training programme, ‘Serving clients with disabilities’, are in the making. The target groups are both the private and public sector.
About the project
The project receives €76 548 from Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the NGO fund in Lithuania.
The project started October 2013 and will end March 2015.
Social Welfare Development, representing the rights of disabled people
Lithuanian association of people with disabilities
Type of Institution:
Umbrella organization / Network of NGOs
Research proves that people with disabilities do not enjoy equal opportunities in Lithuania yet. Among areas of discrimination is access to information and access to public spaces, therefore a pro-active approach to the disabled members of our society is necessary to ensure they are aware of their rights and are able to participate in policy and decision making, especially related to discrimination and exclusion. Project aims to increase NGO involvement in policy and decision-making processes related to human rights with focus on discrimination, and to promote human rights through awareness raising on rights of people with disabilities. Research on accessibility of public buildings and other spaces shall serve as basis for online map and guidelines on adapting public space for the disabled. Legislation monitoring shall enable competent participation in policy making and initiating necessary legislative changes. Educational programme “Discover Disability” and training programme “Serving clients with disabilities” shall be developed for trainings of business and public sector – at the same time shall add to diversifying sources of funding for LAPD.