Disability rights advocate paints picture of changing Russia


Published 24 June, 2013 

Russia has had a reputation of being unfriendly, or even downright hostile, to people with disabilities. But that's starting to change. Yulia Simonova, a disability rights advocate, says Russia, at least in cities, is taking steps to be more friendly and welcome to those with disabilities.

In Russia, people with disabilities used to be invisible. Yulia Simonova remembers it that way.
When she was 10, she was doing a gymnastics routine and had an accident. She fell and broke her back. After several surgeries, she ended up in a wheelchair, at home, isolated.
“I couldn’t go out from my house, and I lived on the fourth floor, without any elevator. I was stuck in my house,” she recalled.

That’s the way it used to be for disabled people in Russia. They couldn’t get out of their homes, they couldn’t go to work or to school, so they were effectively invisible.

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