Ombudswoman Maria Stylianou-Lottides unveiled a list of recommendations for measures to be taken to ensure the accessibility and safety of schoolchildren with disabilities on Wednesday.
The recommendations were prepared after the father of a disabled child contacted Lottides complaining that his child was facing problems related to accessibility and safety on two separate school trips made in the same year.
Lottides recommended that the education ministry work closely with the transport ministry and the tourism deputy ministry to draw up a list of places which are approved for the use of people with disabilities. The list would include means of transportation and dining facilities.
In addition, she recommended that the lists be sent to schools, so that the schools themselves can take them into account while planning school trips.
She added that the transport ministry should ensure that bus companies include companies which can serve people with disabilities.
This particular recommendation was included following the contact made with Lottides by the aforementioned father of a schoolchild, who had told her that the child’s wheelchair was placed in an “unusual” location on the bus and was only held in place by a single seatbelt.
He had said that when the bus braked, the wheelchair would turn right, potentially causing harm to the child’s neck.
On a separate school trip, he had told her that two children in wheelchairs turned up to go on the trip and the bus hired to take the children on the trip had only one wheelchair berth.
In addition, there was no disabled toilet at the restaurant where the children ate on the school trip.
“From what has been brought to my attention, but also from what has been recently discussed at the House human rights committee on this issue, it appears that despite the good intentions of schoolteachers … there are obstacles placed in the way of disabled children,” Lottides said.
“These obstacles should have already been removed in every area of life so that any person with a disability can fully enjoy their lives and have independence and access to all spaces.”