Putin Reaffirms Commitment to Support Program for Handicapped Russians

The "Accessible Environment" program will be prolonged up to 2025. Vladimir Putin announced it upon visiting the Russian State Special Academy of Arts the world's only art school for people with disabilities.

The President also advocated the creation of the Federal Recovery Center for the disabled and encouraged businesses to hire them.

Alexander Balitsky on what else the state can do for these people.


This is how Pakhmutova's Melpomene, which the students decided to make their academy's anthem, sounds when performed by those who don't sing, but perform with gestures. So aesthetic! The deaf and hearing impaired as well as the speech impaired are doing something they are great at and not feeling cut off from the world.

Deaf actor: “You shouldn't lose heart or get hung up on your problems. You can do it”.

The Russian State Special Academy of Arts is the only educational institution in the world where students with disabilities — look, the sign plates are doubled in braille — can get a degree in pictorial art, music, and drama. What these students do proves they are not disabled but rather infinitely able.

Vladimir Putin saw today how those who have troubles seeing the keys can play and sing.

Vladimir Putin: “And later, at a meeting with members of non-profit organizations and social activists he pointed out that the problems facing people with disabilities are treated much differently now. Our citizens rightfully condemn those who treat disabled people indecently or violate their rights. And certainly, the authorities at all levels must realize that the numbers in programs and plans reflect the issues of people that require their support".

Mikhail Kiselev, Russian Student Groups: "I'd like to thank you personally for helping us promote equal opportunities in our society. On behalf of all special people, I'd like to ask you, Mr. Putin to prolong the crucially important Accessible Environment program at least up to 2025".

Vladimir Putin: "Thank you for the kind words, but we definitely have a lot to do still. We definitely must prolong the program from 2020 up to 2025. And secondly, it must be intensified so that it doesn’t take forever to execute".

Putin pointed out the need to speed up the creation of the barrier-free environment. However, it's only one of the measures proposed to support our special people. Recovery Centers and clinics should become more accessible. Sometimes even the pavement is an obstacle course. There was no need for sign-interpretation when those present encounter these challenges every day.

Vladimir Putin: "It's lunch money. It's cheap. It's all about awareness. Recreating it might be hard. Breaking and creating it from scratch costs more. It's better to create something initially. The way we did in Sochi. We were simultaneously building both Olympic and Paralympic facilities. And everything was done perfectly. That's what we should do".

Modern technologies are helping out immensely. In the computer lab, they demonstrate a special braille display that allows the visually impaired to type and read from the screen. By the way, they are doing it much faster than the able-bodied.

Blind engineer: That's the speed at which the visually impaired can read a text.

Vladimir Putin: Can you read as fast as that?

Blind engineer: I can.

Vladimir Putin: Unbelievable. You should teach my colleagues in the government. Our productivity would soar.

Developing an electronic validation program that allows a person to choose a particular wheelchair and buying a third of all recovery equipment from Russian producers was suggested by the social activists.

Putin approved of their initiative. Besides, Russia has its own unique technologies that allow the disabled feel more confident in their everyday lives, in shops, for instance.

One of the projects — a vibro-watch — was demonstrated to Putin.

Putin said that it's important to remember that disabled people should be able to earn their living. That's the primary focus of the Abilympics-contest. There are hundreds of industries where a disability does not have to play a role, from IT and web-design to shoe-making and tailoring.

The only thing that remains is persuading employers to hire the disabled. They are not the only ones to prejudge and not hire them. Even doctors are guilty of doing that.

Vladimir Putin: “It's already hard for them, they have a disability and we're making them run or ride their wheelchairs from one clinic to another and wait in endless queues. That's a thing that must be organized in the modern world. We'll make a program. Mr. Topilin, could you make a program? And of course, the status of permanent disability. It should've been implemented long ago. It's clear why the authorities fear it'll be abused. But is it necessary to check whether a person's limb is still missing? Some things are absolutely obvious. That's why it must be implemented.”

Putin pointed out the role of volunteers that often make a contribution to the lives of the disabled. Today, Russia is celebrating Volunteer Day for the first time. Two-time alpine skiing champion of the Winter Paralympics, Alexey Moshkin, is planning to hold training sessions.

Vladimir Putin: Where do you ski in Sochi?

Alexey Moshkin: Probably Gorky Gorod this time. I would gladly join you for a slide. I just wanted to suggest that.

Vladimir Putin: It would be my honor.

Alexey Moshkin: Deal.

The next summer, the Russian Disabled Society will celebrate its 30th anniversary. Putin received an invitation as well.

Vladimir Putin: "Mr. Terentyev invited me to an event in August. Did you personally invite me? I remind you, we have elections in March. In February I would still be available. 100%"

Mikhail Terentyev, Russian Disabled Society: "I'm inviting you personally. The people will decide later".

Today, Putin accepted another invitation to watch a movie about Paralympians whose main character was based on alpine skier Moshkin. Its main idea is that there's no stronger champion than the one who manages to overcome his own shortcomings.

Alexander Balitsky, Andrey Melnikov Renat Goriyev, Maria Samsonova Vesti.