More disabled interns please, asks Young Voices campaigner

23-year old Irene Latag has become the first female Young Voices campaigner in the Philippines to become a government internship programme trainee with the National Youth Commission. This summer training and employment programme engages youth in constructive public service to build their support for and understanding of government projects. In addition to attending training seminars in subjects as diverse as labour rights and tree planting, Irene advocated for the programme to take more disabled trainees and to hire more disabled employees.

When the commission put up a handrail and signs to support accessibility for people with disabilities in the programme, Irene took the initiative to thank the chairman personally for this good idea. Two other Young Voices campaigners are now starting training in the programme.

Transportation reality check in Bangalore

Young Voices members in Bangalore held a ‘reality check’ on TV as part of their campaign to make all public transport in the state of Karnataka accessible. Reporters filmed the Young Voices members walking to the bus stop, waiting and watching as three or four buses passed them, unwilling to stop. They then went to another bus stop, where they boarded three buses to check if they were accessible. The conductors were rude about the whole exercise so members then spoke to the camera about the problems they had experienced and asked the government to address them. When the programme was broadcast, a Young Voices member was phoned from the studio to discuss the campaign and call for government action. Response to the film was so positive that it was shown two more times.

All banking services must be accessible, say Bangalore Young Voices

Young Voices members from Bangalore, India, have carried their campaign for accessible banking services one step further through press coverage in The Times of India, a major national print and online newspaper. Young Voices members had carried out an access audit of bank premises, cash point machines and bank policies and used the data to show that people with visual impairments were often denied bank accounts, could not access cash machines and could not enter some bank premises. Read the article.

Campaigners audit station accessibility

Young Voices campaigners Carminda Licerio and Daisy Panaligan joined the Philippines Department of Transportation and Communication Task Force Group to inspect accessibility in all the Light Rail Transit stations on two train lines in Manila. Together they checked all lifts, handrails, ramps, and the guards’ skills in assisting people to ensure that they met disabled people’s needs. Sadly, they discovered that out of 32 lifts, only 9 were still working and 23 were defective. With the task force, they then made several recommendations:

  • teach station guards how to assist people with disabilities
  • supply detachable ramps so that wheelchair users can access trains without being lifted
  • install lifts in all stations
  • adjust the height and slope of ramps to make them more functional

Accessible transport demanded for up to three million disabled citizens

The Indian state of Karnataka is home to approximately three million people with disabilities. Speaking on their behalf and for themselves, the Bangalore Young Voices group submitted a memorandum to the state minister for transport. It called for the state bus transport corporation to honour national laws and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities by ensuring full access to public transport. This includes providing free or reduced price bus passes for people with disabilities as is done in many other Indian states. Finally, the Young Voices members demanded that the corporation fulfil its obligations under national law to ensure that 3 – 5% of all its jobs, as well as concessions in bus stations, are filled by people with disabilities.

Better access and no fare increases: Young Voices members interviewed on TV

Philippines Young Voices members Carminda Licerio and Daisy Panaligan, as well as Young Voices facilitator Virgie Rabino, discussed the transport needs of disabled passengers in an interview at a Metro Manila Rail Transit (MRT) station by a TV news reporter. All three women use wheelchairs and work with the Leonard Cheshire Disability Philippines Foundation. In the interview, Carminda Licerio spoke up for the needs of disabled passengers, “Sometimes we have to push our way going inside and outside the MRT because of the loads of commuters during rush hours. I hope there would be a special lane inside the MRT for people with disabilities, senior citizens, pregnant women and those accompanied by children, so that it would be easier to get in and out of the train.” When asked about whether fares should be increased to pay for such facilities, she answered, “I’m sure that there are other ways for the government to raise revenues to improve the facilities. But, I hope not through an MRT fare hike.” The interview was broadcast on the ABS-CBN Network news in the Philippines.

City building becomes accessible through Young Voices campaign

The Chiefdom Hall (a local government building) in Kabala, Sierra Leone, now has ramps thanks to campaigning by Young Voices in the city. The ramp was installed as a direct result of meetings of the Kabala Young Voices group with the head of the city’s police and local paramount chiefs (locally elected leaders). In meetings the Young Voices members explained Articles 13 and 9 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which focus on justice and accessibility, and the paramount chief of Wara Wara Yagala committed himself to installing the ramps. He and other local stakeholders have also promised to consider disability issues in local development.

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City Hall and local bank now accessible thanks to Young Voices

The City Hall and the Sierra Leone Commercial Bank in the city of Bo now have ramps for accessibility thanks to an integrated Young Voices campaign. Bo’s bus drivers also now ensure that passengers with disabilities have seating on public transport. Young Voices members based their campaign on articles in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities that call for access in public buildings, education and workplaces. Between April and September 2010 they used radio programmes, public musical plays and meetings with local officials to communicate their message, which resulted in this campaign success.

Independence (Philippines)

 

The film “Independence” by Philippines Young Voices member, Carla dela Cruz (featuring fellow group-member Carmela’s daily life) has now been viewed 5,600 times, making it the most watched film on the Young Voices YouTube channel and website. This new number one film overtook “Steps”, from India, which has been the most popular since we started the channel over two years ago. Congratulations Young Voices Philippines and to all our Young Voices, whose films have now been viewed online over 35,000 times!