Rebuilding Ukrainian communities requires creating a barrier-free environment; ensuring quality access to all services, institutions, and equal opportunities for all community residents.

To assist in implementation of a barrier-free environment, the SURGe Project provides support to the Advisor-Presidential Commissioner for Barrier-Free Environment, Tetiana Lomakina, and the Ministry for Communities, Territories and Infrastructure Development of Ukraine (the Ministry for Restoration) to monitor the implementation of the Action Plan for 2023-2024 of the National Strategy for a Barrier-Free Environment in Ukraine up to 2030.

This Strategy aims to ensure accessibility in all spheres of life and for all Ukrainians, including people with disabilities, the elderly, youth, women, parents of young children and children with disabilities. It focuses on accessibility not only in physical spaces but accessibility in areas such as education, employment, services etc.

Creating this environment and promoting inclusive recovery for communities are among the priorities of the Project, particularly within the framework of the Community-Led Inclusive Recovery (CLIR) initiative, implemented in cooperation with the Ministry for Restoration. CLIR supports 14 selected territorial communities in drafting Community Development Strategy that incorporates accessibility across all sectors: infrastructure, education, healthcare, economy, social sphere, etc. CLIR experts support communities in assessing the needs of various citizens groups, considering factors like age, gender, health status, socio-economic status etc, and help determine the most strategic allocation of resources to ensure equitable access to services for everyone.

Ms. Tetiana Lomakina visited Canada in February-March 2024 to learn about the best inclusivity and accessibility practices. During her visit, organised by Alinea International, she explored several Canadian medical and educational institutions including Algonquin College, the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) and the Centre-East French Catholic School Board to learn best practices in building a barrier-free environment. Special attention during the visit was given to understanding how Canada creates accessible and inclusive environments for all groups of people.

“Barrier-free accessibility is not only about a person’s physical capabilities. It is about their involvement in society, a sense of security and self-worth. During the war, the demand for that became even stronger and more urgent. We must listen, act, and continue to develop necessary solutions,” noted Lomakina, during the event “Road to Victory: Defending, Demining & Inclusive Recovery of Ukraine” held on February 28, 2024, in Canada with the support of Alinea International.

We are confident that experience gained in the field of inclusivity and accessibility during the visit will serve as an inspiration and model for building a barrier-free environment in Ukraine.