Bulgaria is a country in southeastern Europe with a population of approximately 7 million people. Like in many countries, people with disabilities in Bulgaria face a range of challenges and barriers to inclusion and full participation in society. In this article, we will explore common attitudes towards disability in Bulgaria, legislation related to disability rights, accessibility of public transport and buildings, and advocacy groups for people with disabilities.
Attitudes to Disability in Bulgaria
Attitudes towards disability in Bulgaria have historically been influenced by the country’s communist past, where people with disabilities were often hidden away in institutions and not given the same rights as other citizens. Since the fall of communism in 1989, there has been progress towards inclusion and accessibility for people with disabilities, but discrimination and negative attitudes still exist.
According to a study by the Center for Independent Living (CIL) in Bulgaria, negative attitudes towards people with disabilities are common. Many people believe that disability is a punishment for past sins or bad behavior, and that people with disabilities are not capable of leading fulfilling lives. This negative perception often results in exclusion from employment, education, and community activities.
Legislation Related to Disability Rights
The Bulgarian Constitution prohibits discrimination based on disability, and the country has also ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The Law on Protection against Discrimination also prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in employment, education, and other areas of public life.
In 2011, Bulgaria passed the Law on Integration of People with Disabilities, which aimed to promote inclusion and accessibility for people with disabilities. The law established requirements for accessibility in public buildings and transport, as well as provisions for employment, education, and social services. However, enforcement of the law remains a challenge, and many buildings and transport services are not fully accessible.
Accessibility of Public Transport and Buildings
Public transport in Bulgaria is generally not fully accessible to people with disabilities. Buses and trains are often not equipped with ramps or lifts, making it difficult for wheelchair users to board. Some buses have designated spaces for people with disabilities, but these are often occupied by other passengers or used for storage.
In terms of building accessibility, the situation is also challenging. Many older buildings in Bulgaria do not have ramps or elevators, making them inaccessible to people with mobility impairments. While new buildings are required to be accessible, enforcement of these regulations is not always consistent.
Advocacy Groups for People with Disabilities
There are several advocacy groups in Bulgaria that work to promote the rights and inclusion of people with disabilities. These include:
The Center for Independent Living (CIL) Bulgaria: a non-profit organization that provides support to people with disabilities, including peer counseling, advocacy, and independent living skills training.
Bulgarian Association of Persons with Intellectual Disabilities (BAPID): an organization that advocates for the rights and inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities.
Bulgarian Association of the Deaf (BAD): an organization that works to promote the rights and inclusion of the deaf community in Bulgaria.
National Alliance for People with Rare Diseases: an organization that advocates for the rights and needs of people with rare diseases in Bulgaria.
These organizations provide a range of services, including advocacy, peer support, training, and information resources.
In conclusion, people with disabilities in Bulgaria face a range of challenges and barriers to inclusion and full participation in society. Negative attitudes towards disability, lack of accessibility in public transport and buildings, and inconsistent enforcement of legislation all contribute to these challenges. However, there are also advocacy groups working to promote the rights and inclusion of people with disabilities, and progress is being made towards greater accessibility and inclusion.