Thursday, September 26, 2013

Russia’s Hurdles for People with Disabilities

            The 2014 Paralympic Games are set to take place in Sochi, Russia.  The city is quickly preparing for the many disabled athletes who will come to Russia to compete.  While these athletes will be met with accessible facilities includeing transportation, elevators, and small inclines at business fronts, the disabled citizens of Sochi do not receive the same treatment.  A twenty-six year old disabled woman named Maria lives on the third floor of her apartment building.  She has not left her home for six months because the elevator in her building is broken, but even if she could leave the building, the wheelchair ramp at the front of her building is too steep. Maria even contacted city officials to be assigned to a new apartment, but they were not willing to help her.  Sochi has been telling many that the disabled will begin to see changes in their favor as the Paralympic Games approach, but there have been no changes for the citizens, only the athletes. 

Why are steps not being taken to make living situations more comfortable for the disabled in Russia? It seems ironic for a city hosting the Paralympics to not offer the same accessible lifestyle to its own citizens.  The disabled citizens in Sochi cannot enjoy comfortable lives because the government officials are giving their cases less attention than the Paralympic athletes are receiving.  More effort should be made on the part of the Russian government to provide accessible buildings and transportation to the 13 million disabled individuals living in Russia.  Why are the disabled not being given the same basic rights as other citizens? They deserve to live as comfortable a lifestyle in Russia as any other citizen who is not disabled. Measures should be taken to make the city accommodate for those who are disabled. If Russia is willing to build new structures that accommodate Paralympic athletes, then they should also be willing to make the lives of its own citizens more comfortable.

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