Association for Youth, Education, Culture, Health, Sports and Solidarity with Persons with Disabilities (ENGENÇDER) published their report, “The Mapping Study for Persons with Disabilities during COVID-19” with the support of Etkiniz. ENGENÇDER also published an interactive map visualising the cases under the monitoring activity:
Below you can read the executive summary of the activity:
The said mapping study encompasses the results of the human rights monitoring work conducted by the Engelliler ve Gençlik Eğitim Kültür Sağlık ve Yardımlaşma Derneği (Persons with Disabilities and Youth, Education, Culture, Health and Solidarity Association – ENGENÇDER). The mapping study aims to compile the statements/work of centralised and local decision-makers and civil society organisations (CSOs) regarding persons with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic and make them available for use by interested parties. The method of the mapping study was the collection of data relevant to persons with disabilities through the monitoring of websites. Newspapers, magazines, news portals and the websites of public, local and private institutions and CSOs were all monitored and added to the map on a daily basis. The mapping study covered the months of March, April and May, and a total of four maps were generated. The first map relates to the period March 11th – 31st, the second to the period April 1st – 30th, the third to the period May 1st – 15th and the fourth to the period May 16th – 31th. The results and findings of the mapping study are given below.
First Mapping Study (March 11th – 31st)
The first mapping study identified the work carried out by official institutions, municipalities and CSOs from 12 provinces related to COVID-19 by means of data collected via internet monitoring. The findings indicate that most of the work carried out in the field of the rights of persons with disabilities in the March 11th -31st period consisted of regulations and statements made by official institutions in response to COVID-19. The study emphasised that these regulations were concerned with granting administrative leave to the persons with disabilities and chronic illnesses working in public institutions and did not cover the persons with disabilities in the private sector. The mapping study also highlights the work carried out by some local administrations regarding persons with disabilities within the context of the pandemic and the statements of CSOs on the topic. The study notes that an announcement was made in this period about grant support to be provided by the Regional Development Agencies, but that as far as can be ascertained, no support was subsequently provided for persons with disabilities within the scope of this call.
Second Mapping Study (April 1st – 30th)
The second mapping study identified the work carried out and measures developed by official institutions, municipalities and CSOs from 13 provinces in the context of COVID-19 by means of data collected via internet monitoring. The mapping study emphasises, based on various news sources, that the state of panic and not knowing what to do caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly among CSOs, started to dissipate in April and that the CSOs started to develop appropriate tools for the “new era”. It shows – again based on various news sources – that during this period a significant portion of the CSOs working in the field of the rights of persons with disabilities shifted their activities to the online environment, that CSOs started to put forward more tangible suggestions and introduce model practices to eliminate the negative effects of the pandemic on persons with disabilities and their rights, and that various events were organised in the online environment.
For protection from the pandemic, particularly for persons with hearing disabilities, the study referred to numerous information videos with sign language translations and news items about the use of transparent masks. The news reported in this mapping period included the following: children and young people with special needs such as autism, severe mental retardation or Down Syndrome were exempted from the curfew on the condition of being accompanied by their parents or caregivers; the mobile application “Özelim Eğitimdeyim” [I am Special, I am in Education] prepared for special education students and their parents was put into use by the Ministry of National Education (MoNE), and the Ministry of Health developed the “Special Child Support System” to provide support to individuals with special needs. The mapping study also noted that a “COVID-19 seminar” in sign language was organised for the first time for the hearing impaired, and that surveys and other studies started to be conducted to identify the impacts of the pandemic process on persons with disabilities, although these remained limited in number. The mapping study also stated that a worker with a disability employed in a public hospital, who was made to work although they were considered on administrative leave, died of COVID-19.
Third Mapping Study (May 1st – 15th)
The second mapping study identified the work carried out and measures developed by official institutions, municipalities and CSOs from nine provinces and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) in the context of COVID-19 by means of data collected via internet monitoring. The mapping study includes a series of statements made by CSOs that draw attention to persons with disabilities being excluded from the education process, following the transition to distance/online learning due to the pandemic, for reasons such as the inaccessibility of materials, the fact that not all persons with disabilities have internet access or devices such as a computer, and the content of the educational materials not being planned for different disability levels. The study indicates that the work done by CSOs for persons with disabilities concerning the pandemic – such as online education activities, seminars or similar events – increased, and that the activities carried out during the Persons with Disabilities Week were mostly designed to draw attention to the problems experienced by persons with disabilities during the pandemic. It is emphasised that local administrations were making limited efforts aimed at persons with disabilities and that decision-makers were still far from producing policies capable of solving the problems experienced by people with disabilities on account of the pandemic. The study repeats, based on various news sources, that almost all of the work related to the problems and rights of persons with disabilities carried out in the first half of May was conducted by CSOs, just has had been the case in the earlier phases of the pandemic.
Fourth Mapping Study (May 16th – 31st)
The fourth mapping study identified the work carried out and measures developed by official institutions, municipalities and CSOs from 16 provinces in the context of COVID-19 by means of data collected via internet monitoring. Statements made in connection with the Persons with Disabilities Week were found to feature prominently again in the second half of May. The study draws attention to news reports on the work carried out by the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Services for persons with disabilities during the pandemic. However, it emphasises that this work did not go beyond the translation of EBA content and public service announcements into sign language. The study also includes news reports on the appointment of 200 teachers with disabilities by MoNE and on the call by the national employment agency İŞKUR for applications for grants from persons with disabilities and CSOs working for the rights of persons with disabilities. As an indicator of the lack of awareness of the rights of persons with disabilities, the study included a news report on an incident that took place in this period in which a visually impaired student was asked questions involving visuals at Zonguldak Bülent Ecevit University. The mapping study incorporates the news that the Anadolu University had decided to support Open University students with disabilities by providing an assistance to accompany them during exams if they so requested, and that while arrangements could not be made in time for the first round of exams, the new arrangement would take effect in the finals. The final mapping study emphasises that the need persisted, in this period too, for field studies to be conducted to ascertain how all persons with disabilities are meeting their healthcare needs, the needs specific to their disability group, their housing needs, needs related to economic difficulties, special needs, the need for shopping and personal care and other major needs during the course of the pandemic, and how they are dealing with the difficulties of the pandemic period.