General Proposal to Tbilisi Transport Company regarding Special Needs of Persons with Disabilities
On November 6, 2015, the Public Defender addressed the Ltd Tbilisi Transport Company with a general proposal to prevent and combat discrimination. In particular, the Public Defender recommended the company to conduct trainings about the special needs of persons with disabilities for its employees which have direct contact with passengers; to develop a flexible schedule of passenger transportation so that persons with special needs get additional service of safe and comfortable transportation in case of need.
As a result of surveying the violation of rights and alleged discrimination of children with autism spectrum disorder in the capital’s municipal transport, the Public Defender identified that the Transport Company employees do not have sufficient information about the needs of children with disabilities. Majority of respondents said that bus drivers are not informed that autistic children usually need more time for getting in/out of the bus. Drivers think that children delay the process on purpose and become irritated. In addition, children with autism spectrum disorders are not able to control their movement, which is hardly understood by others. All of this results in poor service, conflict situations and violation of the right of access to public transport. For example, one of the bus drivers did not give enough time to an autistic child and addressed him with offensive words. The Public Defender points out that the attitude towards children with autism spectrum disorders and their parents is not favorable in Georgia. Society does not treat them as their equal due to lack of sufficient and objective knowledge about various categories of disabled persons, as well as of their and their families' needs. The stereotypical views, which have been formed over the years, result in marginalization of children with disabilities and they are regarded as children with less importance and less potential.
The Public Defender emphasizes the special role of parents in upbringing and development of children and considers that their stabile emotional attitude and positive disposition have essential importance for full development of children with disabilities and their integration with society.
When parents face obstacles and humiliation in all aspects of public life, they try to keep their children far from similar environment in order to prevent expected psychological pressure and outrage, as a result of which children become isolated from the outside world.
The Public Defender believes that unavailability of public transport is one of the main factors for marginalization of children with disabilities, which endangers the availability of service, education, healthcare and other fundamental rights for children with disabilities.
The Public Defender considers that the Tbilisi Transport Company can play a positive role in establishing an environment free of stigma and stereotypes related to disabilities, and promote involvement of children with disabilities in public life, which can be achieved through ensuring adapted and available public transport. In addition, the Public Defender welcomes the initiative of the Tbilisi Transport Company with regard to introduction of new adapted buses from 2016.
The Public Defender says it is of vital importance the Tbilisi Transport Company to conduct training of bus drivers and monitoring service employees for raising their awareness on the needs of persons with disabilities. At the same time, the Public Defender is ready to assist the Transport Company in conducting the trainings. The mentioned measure will contribute to the fight against discrimination and establishment of tolerant and equal environment for persons with disabilities.