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“No legs – no cartoons”, or How a business refuses to serve 40 million potential customers

Emma Kairova describes the issue of the low level of business attention – small and large – to the problem of access for people with limited mobility to the entire spectrum of client opportunities – from cafes and restaurants without ramps – to pick-up points of online stores
According to the Ministry of Labor, in the Russian Federation 12+ million people have this or that form and degree of disability – this is more than 8% of the country’s population. And there are more than 40 million people (and 28%) of those who can be ranked as the so-called low-mobility groups (MGN). And this is a huge market share, the interests of which the business traditionally does not take into account when making decisions.

This tradition has developed a long time ago – even in times when the well-being and survival of any community depended on the physical capabilities of each member. Weak, old and not sufficiently dexterous not only could not bring benefits to the relatives, but they became a burden and a threat. A good solution to the problem was to throw such people off a cliff, sacrifice to the gods, start and leave in the forest, in the desert or on the mountain …

Several hundred, or even thousands, years have passed since then, scientific progress has brought medicine and technology to a level that allows a significant part of people with disabilities and low mobility to live an ordinary life and to be full participants in economic relations. However, society is changing its view of this part of the population much more slowly and more difficultly than the world around it is changing. And this is most clearly reflected in the operating and business models of commercial organizations, from the smallest to the largest federal, in which decisions are made by ordinary people – members of our society.

You can be more or less confident that you have unhindered access to the organization’s services and products only if this organization is included in the list of socially significant objects – a pharmacy, a large shopping and entertainment or sports complex, notary, transportation services and the like. At the same time, even here very often the approach to ensuring accessibility remains formal and on the principle of “if only lagging behind” – the Internet is full of photographs of ramps going into the sky or resting against a wall. They think even less about the needs and convenience of people with disabilities in the sensory canals – their difficulties are almost invisible from the outside, which means they do not exist at all. Moms with children, elderly people, people temporarily limited in the scope of movement due to illness – just find a way to overcome all the obstacles in order to take your money to business: your children, injuries and age are often your problems even from the point of view of legislation.

By the way, about the Internet: in RuNet they like to talk about the unenviable situation of people with disabilities, the elderly and parents of young children; about the obligations of the state in relation to all its citizens; they like to compare how intelligently everything is arranged abroad. Moreover, these same people, opening a coffee shop, barbershop or questroom, in 99 cases out of 100 will not think that people from MGN might want to become their customers. They want, but do not. Because so many of these people are forced, when deciding to purchase the company’s products and services, to take into account the possibility of physical access to them.

In the meantime, Article 9 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, signed by our country back in 2008, states: in order to empower such people to lead an independent lifestyle and to participate fully in all its aspects, the participating states shall take appropriate measures to ensure that people with disabilities are equal to others access to facilities and services open or provided to the public.

Accordingly, in cases where the accessibility of services and facilities to people with disabilities is not ensured, they are discriminated against – a violation of constitutional rights.

It should be understood that where legislative and educational activities of the state do not help to ensure 100% accessibility of all facilities and eliminate discrimination, it can only take “appropriate measures” by force – by organizing additional checks, approvals and fines for all violators. And then the same active citizens who were sick in Odnoklassniki with a soul for old people, disabled people and parents of young children, will cry out on the entire Internet that their business is “nightmare” and “strangle”.

For this reason, or for some other reason, the activists on the part of society, education, and the larger and more socially responsible business are still more occupied with increasing business awareness. That at the level of a hairdresser or pizzeria in the average provincial city is almost not felt.

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