Integration of disabled people in the rest of society is still a problem in Georgia. Mot of them do not have access to institutions and basing infrastructures, reinforcing their feeling of discrimination.
By Nana Tabatadze and Nino Gelashvili
Every day, Levan Areshidze, 22, uses ramps instead of the stairs. Because of his handicap, he had to quit academic education after finishing school. His mother says the basic reason why Levan did not study was the lack of adapted infrastructure in Tbilisi.
No official data
Levan is not the only person having difficulty to move herself in Georgia. However, officials and institutions have no idea about the number of disabled persons living in the country. A lack of statistics that shows that the problem of handicap and discrimination is far from being a priority of the Georgian institutions.
The NGOs working on this issue are managing round-tables and social activities with disabled persons, rather than acting against the lack of infrastructural projects.
Infratructure in the city
The problem number one for people with physical disabilities is public transport of the city, which is absolutely not adapted for people with wheelchair.
Although there are a number of over-ground bridges with ramps that were built over the last few years in the city, they remain useless: since they are too steep, disabled persons are unable to move on them independently.
Tsisana – bridges
A handicapped girl speaking about over-ground bridges, useless for people with wheelchairs.
Specific infrastructure is also missing in most of the buildings in the city of Tbilisi. Residential complex have generally elevators but if you want to leave the block, you still need to take several steps. If there is no elevator in the building,you are supposed to take more stairs.
Either way, there isn’t any ramp in residential buildings, unless a handicapped person lives there and his family cares about making a ramp.
Infrastructure at the Universities
Neither official buildings are equipped with an adapted infrastructure. However, the universities have started caring about the access of disabled person to universities: the newest campus in the country are now including ramps and elevators. Example: the C block of Ilia State University or the first block of Tbilisi State University, both located in the capital. However, even in these cases, the infrastructure is only available in one part of the university.
According to Giorgi Chantladze, the representative of Ilia State University, schedule of disabled person is specially arranged so that they can receive education like other students.
“We try to group their lectures on the same floor, to prevent them from moving upstairs or to other buildings” – says Giorgi.
Tsisana Baghdavadze is a first-year-student at the Ilia State University. She is in a wheelchair. She studies with other students , though she has access to only the first floor of University’s C Block. According to her, she passed all the exams and attended all the lectures on the first floor but she had to miss the lectures held on upper floors or other buildings.