Bulgaria still lagging in disabled access to public buildings – report

Bulgaria had a lot of work to do in providing disabled access to public buildings, the country’s anti-discrimination commission said on October 2 in its intermediate report on the progress of the ongoing Accessible Bulgaria programme.

As part of the programme, the commission has checked a total of 538 public buildings for disabled access and found that only 60 buildings, or one in nine, had taken adequate measures to facilitate access for disabled people.

Those buildings would be included in a special register for future disabled access certification, while the other 478 were in various stages of infringement proceedings, the commission said in a statement.

Should building owners fail to implement the commission’s recommendations, they could be subject to fines of up to 20 000 leva, or 10 225 euro.

The anti-discrimination commission launched the Accessible Bulgaria programme on December 3 2017, which is also marked as teh International Day of Persons with Disabilities. The programme does not have an end date and the commission said on October 2 that it aims to provide quarterly updates about its progress.

Although the commission did not provide a detailed break-down of the 60 buildings that it found to meet disabled access criteria, it did have data for the inspected buildings that failed to do so.

Of those, nearly a third (149 buildings) were government and municipal buildings. Among privately-owned buildings, bank branches (165 buildings) and mobile carrier stores (89 buildings) were the most frequent offenders.

Currently, the checks under the Accessible Bulgaria programme are focusing on state institutions, banks and insurance companies, mobile carrier stores and post offices, pharmacies and other larger stores.

Once those are checked, the commission plans to focus on other public buildings, such as theatres, cinemas and restaurants, the report said.

Geographically, the largest number of infringement proceedings were in Sofia (both the capital city and the district around it) – 66 in total, including 45 bank branches. The district of Lovech was next, with 30 ongoing infringements, and Varna was third with 26 cases.

But disabled access was a nation-wide problem, the commission’s report said, with infringements recorded in all 28 districts of the country.

(Photo: Andrew Beierle/freeimages.com)



The Sofia Globe staff

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