IMPROVING ACCESSIBILITY IN ESTONIA THROUGH SIMPLE LANGUAGE

In 2019, we received funding from the Active Citizens' Fund to make public space more accessible to people with intellectual disabilities.

In the course of the project, we will map institutions providing public services all over Estonia and map accessibility in simple language using a questionnaire.
The project partners are Landssamtökin Þroskahjálp from Iceland and Tartu Maarja Tugikeskus

For many years now, society and policy innovators have been made aware of the need for accessibility. Although the Constitution of the Republic of Estonia, several norms and, for example, the EU Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, ensure equal access, full participation and inclusion in society and equal opportunities for all people. Understanding of physical accessibility is slowly improving. There has also been some progress on mental disabilities such as hearing and vision impairments. To date, unfortunately, no steps have been taken to create accessibility and equal opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities. In order to improve the issue of accessibility, a forum has been set up - ligipääsetavus.ee - which states: “We have the competence to act on physical, visual and hearing impairments.” The need for a simple letter to improve the availability of public services is generally unknown.
For example, a press release from the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications of 30 May 2018 on the adoption of a regulation on improving accessibility states: “The introduction of up-to-date accessibility, use and safety requirements for public buildings is due to the need to ensure equal, dignified and independent living. Palo said that the members of the board of the NGO Accessibility Forum, members of the Accessibility Council and member organizations of the Estonian Chamber of Disabled People, such as the Estonian Association of the Blind, the Estonian Association of the Deaf and the Estonian Association of People with Mobility, were very helpful in drafting the regulation. ” The fact that a disability is not specifically mentioned does not mean that it has not been taken into account at all. However, in Europe and also in Estonia, intellectual disability is considered to be one of the four major groups of disabilities - the other three are mobility impairment, hearing impairment, visual impairment. The fact that people with intellectual disabilities have been left out of the draft to improve accessibility signals a low awareness of society and also of politicians. While we have issued guides and materials over the years, which have even reached national guidelines, for example, in a very comprehensive guide from the Commissioner for Equality, only two of the 26 guides are aimed at improving accessibility for people with intellectual disabilities, and two of the 50 guides also indirectly suggest that people with intellectual disabilities are considered a risk group with limited access. The need for a simple letter for tens of thousands of people to orient themselves on an equal footing in the public space is even more unaware to the public and professionals, and largely because there is no simple letter in the space around us.