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UNIC Moscow Roundtable on "Equal Rights for Persons with Down Syndrome"
To mark the first-ever World Down Syndrome Day, proclaimed by the UN, the UNIC Moscow joined the “Best Buddies” Fund and “Perspektiva”, a leading disability NGO, in organizing on March 20, 2012 a roundtable on “Equal Rights for Persons with Down Syndrome”.
The organizers mainly sought to provide an answer a simple question: What needs to be done in Russia to secure a full and decent life for persons with Down syndrome, promote their self-reliance and enjoyment of all human rights?
This is why the agenda included different aspects of the issue: rights of persons with Down syndrome in the context of the UN Convention; family life; education; socialization; employment, and freedom to make their own choices. Participants focused on the situation of “invisible people” (the term meant those people are seldom seen in public which is a sad truth) firstly, from the legal angle. The law-making targeting persons with disabilities is still regrettably slow in Russia, the audience lamented. One guest said that the new framework draft law on education kept all the unfortunate barriers intact. That said, the pro-disability community is working to improve the text.
Another speaker concentrated on issues of capability and legal capacity of persons with disabilities. He stressed that the institution of guardianship has to be changed without further delay. His points were picked up by other participants who stated that Russian Civil Code has to reflect changing attitudes in society.
The subject of family life was hotly discussed. Speakers were of the opinion that a family support service needs to be introduced as soon as possible. The task of educating parents was emphasized. The audience unanimously felt that there is a need to promote a family-centered model of rehabilitation.
Inclusive education was another important topic in the discussion. Practical experience of several inclusive schools was shared and praised. However, experts agreed that inclusion has to be well-prepared while any spontaneous initiatives are doomed to fail.
A video link connected the session with an audience in the city of Pskov. Experts from this province shared with us their achievements and problems in the area of employment and development of the individual.
At the end of the meeting participants agreed to produce a summary of ideas, proposals, and conclusions that emerged in the course of the discussion and which reflect a wealth of unique knowledge that has to be put to use.
World Bank Moscow Office – UNIC Moscow roundtable on “Equal Rights for Persons with Down Syndrome” | Sergei Koloskov (second from left), Head of the Down Syndrome Society NGO, making a comment