The situation for people with disabilities in Bosnia and Herzegovina is difficult.
We have no framework law regulating the area of disability, which in practice means that people with disabilities have different rights and benefits depending on where they live.
This has created new migration patterns that often add an additional layer of poverty to those that are already marginalized.
In search for new ways to promote the rights of people with disabilities, I’m pleased to announce that UNDP helped to develop several web based tools – involving people with disabilities in design, implementation and testing:
1. A new web portal where people can:
- Report discrimination
- Share project ideas
- Suggest changes to policies, and
- Find out about the United Nations Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
We wanted to provide a one-stop-shop for people with disabilities, where they can access in easy-to-read format all relevant legislation and information on human rights mechanisms in Bosnia and Herzegovina and internationally.
On the International Day for Persons with Disabilities, we interviewed some people with disabilities to get their perspectives. They have some great suggestions.
2. A report on e-Accessibility in South Eastern Europe showcases how information and communication technologies (ICTs) can be used to remove many barriers to participating in society.
3. The first regional database of assistive technologies with an aid directory provides a one-stop-shop for e-accessibility for the nine countries in South East Europe. People with disabilities can find out about types, availability and prices for assistive technologies (such as mobility and hearing aid devices, and speech recognition software) in South East Europe and in the European Union (EU), in order to make informed decisions.
There is no such directory at the moment or centre where assistive technologies can be tried out.
My dream is to help establish such assistive technology centres across the region and to help found assistive technology incubators so that they can be innovated and produced in the region for the region.
At the moment, I’m developing a project proposal to do just that. It would mean that people with disabilities would no longer need to purchase expensive assistive technologies from abroad without the possibility of an advance trial.
People would also be able to familiarize themselves with different types of assistive technologies and select the one that best suits their needs and type of disability. The current database will be fully populated by May 2013.
4. The first educational software in the Bosnian language – developed, tested and applied with great success in special education classrooms for children with autism.
5. The first regional web site for people with visual impairments started by a person with a visual impairment. It includes an online tutorial for people with visual impairments on writing and editing news.
When we were presenting our new web apps and e-tools, the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina expressed the desire to make Government websites fully accessible, so we’re currently trying to raise funds to make this happen. We’ll keep you posted!
The new applications have been received well so far, and I think it’s partly because in Bosnia and Herzegovina, an open mind has been kept for centuries to anything new and different, and diversity is looked upon with a sense of pride and enrichment.