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Disabled Kazakhs Press For Access In Almaty

Disability-rights activists launch their campaign in Almaty on September 3.

Disability-rights activists launch their campaign in Almaty on September 3.

Several nongovernmental organizations representing physically disabled people in Almaty have launched a campaign to bring attention to their problems in Kazakhstan's largest city, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

The action, which organizers stressed was nonpolitical, will last for several days, during which participants will visit various public places and buildings in Almaty to chronicle obstacles for disabled people and seek ways to better deal with them.

Seyitzhan Kenzheuly, a member of the organization Zhiger (Persistence) who is legally blind, told RFE/RL that by locating all possible barriers to access in public places, the disabled were asserting their right to be treated as full-fledged members of society.

Campaign coordinator Almas Myrzabekov said that, for example, there was no way for blind citizens to find the doors of shops or to get information about what items are on sale.

University students have volunteered to help the participants, some of whom are in wheelchairs or on crutches.

Some 100 disabled people intended to take part in the campaign, but the Almaty city administration gave permission for only 70.

The staff of the district prosecutor's office observed the participants as they started their action on September 3 from Almaty's Old Square.

According to official statistics, some 3 percent of Kazakhstan's population of 16 million are physically disabled.