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Moscow for People with Disabilities: Life Without Frontiers


There are around 1.7 million people with restricted physical abilities living inMoscow, and a fair number among tourists visiting the capital.

Adapting the city’s infrastructure for people with restricted physical abilities has become a priority in the capital’s development in recent years. 

This year has seen the launch of the “Accessible Environment” state program, as a result of which all the conditions for equal access for the disabled to all venues and services should be in place by 2015. The year 2009 was proclaimed as the Year of Equal Opportunities. It was marked by a leap forward in the adaption of the urban environment to improve the quality of life of disabled people in the capital: the number of venues inMoscowwith access for the disabled increased by 20%. Accessibility in the capital is increasing every day: adaptation work is proceeding at approximately the same tempo within the framework of social programs planned up to 2020. Many residential buildings have been converted: entrances, elevators and staircases have been equipped with ramps, handrails, lifts and other special facilities. And no new buildings are approved for use until a check has been made to ensure that they fully meet all the technical requirements for the comfort of people with restricted abilities.

In addition, opportunities in the city for disabled tourists from inside and outside Russiahave increased dramatically. Тhe first tours for people in wheelchairs in Moscowwere introduced only in 1988. Even today this type of tourism is offered by only a few companies in the city. However, the largest of them the Paratourism-Well Agency, the Parilis Charitable Foundation and the Invatour Foundation are actively developing accessible tourism, offering people with restricted physical abilities individual and group guided tours around Moscow, the Moscow Region and other major Russian cities, as well as organizing trips abroad. In these trips everything is provided for the comfort of tourists requiring special conditions: transport, suitably equipped accommodation and eating facilities, and specially trained guides.

Of course, the majority of the problems faced by people with restricted abilities are connected with public transport. At the moment there are insufficient specially equipped means of transport available, but the whole Moscow bus fleet is planned to be replaced in 2012, followed by the trolleybuses in 2014. Allnew citytransport has a so-called low floor and is equipped with special lifts. There are also special social taxis for the disabled traveling individually or in groups. The taxis are paid for by tokens provided by the All-Russian Society for the Disabled.

Adapting the Metro is not a simple task, since it is practically impossible to convert the old sections of the system for the needs of the disabled. But all the new stations under construction meet the necessary requirements. The stations built in recent years (Dostoyevskaya and Slavyansky Bulvar, for example) are equipped with special lifts and passages for wheelchairs.

The organization of cultural leisure for disabled tourists, though not without its problems, has also shown progress. The drawback is that many cultural venues are old or even ancient buildings which cannot be fully adapted for the disabled. However, according to the website www.barierovnet.org, which carries the most reliable information at first-hand (people with restricted abilities themselves mark places on the map where people in wheelchairs can enter without problems), Moscow currently has 80 restaurants, 15 museums, 20 churches, 15 cinemas and 170 shops that are fully or partly adapted for their needs. It can therefore be said that about 25% of venues in the capital are specially equipped in one way or another.

Accommodation in a large number ofMoscow’s hotels does not now present any inconvenience, as they have rooms that are fully equipped for the disabled. The unified normative requirements currently being devised for hotels under construction envisage a minimum of 3% of the rooms in major hotel complexes being allotted to the disabled.

In the next few years the Moscow Government promises to make the metropolis comfortable for all its residents and visitors, with no exceptions. 

Agencies for disabled tourists

Paratourism-Well 

Parilis Charitable Foundation

Invatour Foundation

Fully accessible venues

Tretyakov State Gallery on Krymsky Val

Moscow Satire Theater

Expocenter Complex 

Nekrasov Universal Scientific Library

Baumanskaya St., 58/25, bldg. 14

+7-499-267-84-77 

Atlant Fitness & Health Complex

Kosinskaya St., 5A 

+7-495-700-90-01