Disabled People Association of Turkey (TSD) general manager Ergün İşeri emphasizes that organizations are required in order to grant disabled people their rights and to succeed in the struggle against disadvantageous regulations.
The association gathered this morning on Taksim Square on Istanbul's European side to draw attention to today's "International Day of Persons with Disabilities", this year focussing on the issue of "Making the Millennium Development Goals Inclusive: Empowerment of persons with disabilities and their communities around the world".
There are about 37,000 members of TSD. According to the Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK), about 12.29 percent of the population in Turkey is disabled, which mounts up to a total of around 8.5 million people.
İşeri indicated, "Obtaining the rights disabled persons are entitled to is only possible with a serious struggle. This struggle needs to be organized. I suggest the unorganized disabled people to become organized in order to find ways to be heard. Otherwise, it is very difficult to call for rights and speak up against injustice", İşeri advised.
The TSD general manager sums up the gains deriving from an organized struggle for the rights of the disabled persons as follows:
Conventions and laws: The biggest gain is the United Nations Convention on Rights for Disabled People which has been approved by Turkey just recently. The same is valid for the law on early retirement and the employment quota. [The Labour Law offers a quota of 3 percent of disabled workers for workplaces with more than 50 employees in the private sector. In the public sector the quota is 4 percent. Additionally, the workplace has to be in accordance with the worker's physical and mental conditions.]
Social awareness: The organized struggle brings people with disabilities to the awareness of the social consciousness. Awareness is raised for the fact that there is a group of people with disabilities and that they have problems to deal with; awareness for information within the society about solutions and for proceeding accordingly.
Struggle against rights violations: When we are organized we can strive for the implementation of the rights regulated by the law. As an example İşeri referred to this year's regulation of the National Ministry of Education (MEB) regarding the entrance exams of foreign schools, saying that disabled children would not be able to take the exam because of their physical conditions. We intervened and the MEB changed the regulations, claiming a "misunderstanding". We opened a case because Aydın University had declared that students with disabilities could not take part in the entrance exam due to the condition of the building the exam was going to be held in. Again, they claimed a "misunderstanding". According to the legislation it actually has to be organized in a way that the buildings are suitable for disabled students.
Rehabilitation: Being organized also plays an important role for gains within the community of the disabled people. It offers a field of education, activities and rehabilitation. At the same, time it provides strong company and solidarity.
Vocational education: Employment of disabled persons is a very important issue. The majority of disabled people are not able to continue education after finishing primary school because of problems with physical access. Since they cannot attend high schools or vocational schools, they do not hold significant labour power. We opened short-term vocational courses in order to provide a way of creating labour power. (TK/VK)
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