AZG Armenian Daily #035,
26/02/2005


Social

BEING DISABLED IS NOT A DISEASE BUT A SOCIAL STATUS

25-year-old Zaruhi Batoyan is a third-year student at the Yerevan State
University and is the editor of Arevatsakhik magazine. She is a first group
disabled and is sure that one should trust his abilities in order to be
successful in life. Zaruhi entered University 7 years later after her she
finished school. She has been working at the Bridge of Hope NGO since 1997
now and took the post of Arevatsakhik magazine editor in 1999. "To be
competitive we need higher education but besides our wish we need the state's
backing. Though we are granted possibility of free education, those disabled
of first and second groups have to produce documents from doctors allowing
them to get certain kind of specialty. But no one has the right to decide
for me what profession to choose", Zaruhi says.

Arevatsakhik publishes articles on the rights of the disabled. The magazine
also writes from time to time about disabled peoples' achievements in
different spheres. "We want to prove to everyone that disablement is not a
disease but a social status. It is not necessary to run as fast as everybody
does or see and speak as others in order to live a full life", she says.
Zaruhi also plays roles at the Bridge of Hope theatre and performed key
roles few times. There are 115 thousand disabled in Armenian today. The head
of Bridge of Hope NGO thinks that the first priority is to employ the
disabled. "We need such a legislative field that will encourage employers
take on disabled people most of whom today are unemployed. Besides, the
state institutions are not adjusted for the needs of the disabled", the head
of NGO, Susanna Tadevosian, notes. The NGO organizes seminars occasionally
to raise public's awareness as regards disabled people. Disabled people lead
the seminars themselves.

By Arevik Badalian