The transport ministry on Monday said access for the disabled at the newly renovated Nicosia municipal theatre are in line with the law, hitting back at criticism that facilities were limited.
The ministry felt compelled to defend itself against criticism by the head of the paraplegics’ association, Demetris Lambrianides, who said last Friday that he would not attend the opening later this month, despite being invited, because the renovated theatre does not offer equal treatment to the disabled.
In a Facebook post, Lambrianides had said the state spent nearly €9m to renovate the theatre but reserved space for only 12 seats for the disabled on the aisles – six on the ground floor and six on the balcony – without thinking about where those escorting wheelchair users would sit.
“Unless they think people in wheelchairs are never escorted,” he had said.
The ministry said in a written statement Lambrianides’ reference to a “disabled theatre” were “unfair and did not respond to reality at all.”
The facilities at the Nicosia municipal theatre for people with mobility problems fully meet the requirements of the regulations, the ministry said, adding that it was particularly important that these facilities take into account the needs of people with disabilities, be it spectators or performers.
Sanitary facilities for people with disabilities are located both in the visitors’ area and in the backstage rooms, while a lift has been installed for the first time in the lobby, mainly for the needs of the disabled. Moreover, lifts have been installed in the backstage area in order to ensure that disabled people have easy access to all levels of these areas.
As regards spaces reserved for wheelchairs, they were designated in areas to allow simple and easy access, while in the event of an emergency it offers the possibility of immediate and safe departure, the ministry said.
There is space for twelve wheelchairs, it said, and in cases where more space may be required, there is the flexibility to remove seats. It was decided to deal with the issue of wheelchair users’ escorts as the need arises and not with permanent infrastructure.