January edition of Bilgi Cagi Magazine takes the issue of troubles that disabled are experiencing, insufficiency of R&D and technology solutions against these troubles, high price of existing technology for developing living standards of disabled since the technology is imported. The magazine has noted that R&D and technology studies to ‘remove the obstacles’ in front of disabled are not enough in Turkey because of the market which does not develop.
Disabled generally means the people with illnesses or injuries due to accidents on birth or later or people incapable of working by 40 percent. Political activist and author, Helen Keller, who graduated from university although she completely had lost sight and hearing after severe disease before she became two years old; the most famous blind musician Ray Charles; famous theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking who continue his life with successes despite his ALS disease are some of most prominent disabled. Also there are 8.5 million disabled people in Turkey. If we also take families into account, 30 million people are face to face with disabilities in life.
In daily life all living spaces are designed according to the healthy human. This situation makes the life more complicated for disabled. R&D and technology make easy for disabled to participate in life and to be included in the society. Although there are some technological studies about disabled, the private sector organisations do not invest enough because of having difficulties in obtaining huge profits in this area. Majority of technology used is imported but there are some remarkable studies in Turkey which need to be paid attention.
Call center services for disabled with 3G: Turkcell which provided video call center service for the first time began to provide services to hearing impaired customers with sign language from video call center to facilitate the life of the disabled with 3G.
Home Furniture for Disabled: In the National Home Furniture Design Competition, which has been organised for 5 years, ‘Home Furniture Design for the Disabled’ category has been opened in 2009. The same category will be opened in 2010.
Disabled employment in the medical sector will increase: Medical sector in terms of design and manufacturing speed is quite slower than construction, machinery manufacturing, etc. sectors while compared to other sectors (textile, automotive, electronics, computer, etc..). Therefore medical sector is regarded as one of the most ideal area for employment of people with physical disabilities and the employment rate of disabled seems to increase in this sector. .
Disabled will be in more comfort: MEKA Energy Generation Computing Inc. is developing a project called CARE4ALL with European partners including Instituto de Biomecanica, Socinsor and Funcotex from Spain, ISRI ve Surface Generation from UK supported by the European Union under the 7th Framework Research Programme. With the project, MEKA will test the examination chair/bed for individuals with disabilities for providing them to have the hospital services with the maximum comfort and minimal pain.
The project to create awareness on the obstacles against: Photoshop Magazine is organizing competitions on its web site every month. They are inviting designers to support ‘Remove the Barriers Movement’ with their designs by organizing a competition which is focussing on designs. They were organized competition for products such as sticker, stencil, t-shirt, mug (cup), mouse pad that can be applied to the original free designs to show that people have the equal right to live with differences and differences should not cause to lost values such as happiness, freedom and being special.
But these activities should not be considered sufficient if we thought that 12.29% of our population consists of disabled..Yılmaz Büyükersen, Eskişehir Mayor, who made Eskişehir an example city for disabled, states that Research and Training Center for Disabled should be established in some of the universities. Lokman Ayva, who is the first blind Member of the Turkish Parliament, states that the most important technology that simplifies the lives of the disabled is “Mobilişim’, namely Mobile ICT.. Ayva who benefit from the comfort of the mobile phone features says that ‘Technology are not for the use of lazy people but for the use of working people. The use of these technologies will increase more when more disabled are employed in Turkey’.
Sabancı Foundation which is one of the crucial NGOs working with disabilities provides support to many disabled in educational institutions, for international cooperation in projects in this area. Hüsnü Paçacıoğlu, Sabanci Foundation General Manager, states that living areas’ accessibility should be provided especially for women, youth and disabled. Also he added that they are providing good examples for inclusion of disabled in social life with grant projects supported by Sabancı Foundation.
Leyla Arsan, the CEO of TAGES, states that private sector does not know in which market they could sell their projects which have developed for disabled because there is not an existing demand in the market. Also she adds that the government creates strategies on this issue, but there are shortcomings about policies, standards and harmonization with the EU. Arsan states that in this direction, EU continually improves the policy about e-Accessibility issues. Arsan continues that e-Inclusion provides participation of mainly disabled and the elderly people in society with information and communication technologies. e-Inclusion Status Report which is the basis of the EU countries was released by the European Commission in 2007 and Turkey’s e-Inclusion report was prepared. According to this report, information society indicators are taken from EUROSTAT 2005 statistics and no information available regarding Turkey which means that Turkey does not have e-Inclusion historical records, but have an e-Inclusion strategy.
Finally Arsan offers:
- To develop technologies for the disabled, we have to take advantage of our all opportunities such as Competitiveness and Innovation Programme ICT Policy Support Programme, EU 7thFramework Programme, Lifelong Learning – Leonardo da Vinci Programme, EUREKA, EUROSTARS and TUBITAK projects.
- Applicable, traceable and auditable new policies are required for ICT sector. Co-operation and integration with the EU is needed. However, currently outside the Ministry of Transport it is unclear which organization will undertake this.
- NGOs for the disabled should go out of the wheelchair paradox, cooperate with ICT sector and make activities for policy development with the relevant institutions of the state. If it is necessary, coordination and support projects can be developed by taking advantage of TUBITAK İŞBAP program which supports initiatives to establish scientific and technological cooperation networks and platforms.