Assessment of Adjusting the Public Transport in Poland to the Needs of Handicapped Persons
On December 3, 2001 the Council of the European Union declared the year 2003 the European Year of People with Disabilities. The idea was supported in so called Madrid Declaration by the European Congress for Disabled People, debating on March 20-24, 2002 in Madrid and gathering over 600 participants. In a multi-page document the participants obliged themselves to widely publicise and encourage all interested parties to support the Declaration both before, in the course and after the end of the European Year of People with Disabilities. In Poland, the community of disabled people and the institutions dealing with this problems performed during whole 2003 a rich program celebrating the European Year of People with Disabilities. Unfortunately, in the richness of cultural events, social campaigns, conferences, seminars and competitions concerning the disabled people, the transport aspect for these people was slightly visible. In today reality, the transport enterprises should care about their image. Perception of the firm as an active and friendly partner in the aspect of actions undertaken for the disabled people can be an important element of improving an image and standing on the market of transport services. Creating a friendly and accessible environment for disabled is an important trend of the European Union strategy towards disabilities and is a durable benefit of most of the European Union countries. Polish membership in the European Union means participation in Union's programs (in some of them Poland already participates) what gives a chance for improvement of the life conditions of disabled in that creation of friendly and accessible for them transport. The greater activity is necessary in this field of the transport policy subjects in Poland and all the operators creating transport solutions. It seems that today practical possibilities of overcoming the transport barriers are still modest but taking into account the socio-economic situation of Poland, in which in 90s the undertakings for the handicapped in passenger transport have been performed, they should be assessed positively. It should be remembered that Poland started in practice the tasks in this field with over 20-year delay in relation to the West European countries. Already today following an example of the EU countries it is possible to indicate that in solution of the problems of the handicapped people a lot can be achieved by: - creation of alliances of various organisations dealing with handicapped, - conducting a constructive dialogue with handicapped, - seeking cheap solutions, - monitoring application of introduced law and recommendations.(author's abstract)
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