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Олена Зеленська

Barriers

25.09.2021

When we talk about barriers, we mean various hindrances that prevent different people from accessing opportunities and fulfilling their full potential. Too often, barriers are created by people themselves due to ignorance, stereotypes and prejudice. This leads to inaccessible and inconvenient design, discriminatory procedures and negative attitudes.

Barriers can manifest in different ways. For example, physical ones are those that hinder movement in space: steep stairs, lack of alternatives such as elevators and ramps, high curbs and sidewalks, and so on.

There are also barriers that keep people from accessing information. Unfortunately, only a very small percentage of information is presented in a way that can be comfortably perceived by different people (for example, with visual or hearing impairments). Lack of precise information can also be seen as a kind of barrier.

Psychological barriers include negative attitudes, which are often formed because of fear, prejudice, and stereotypes. For example, with the introduction of inclusive classes, there has been a growing fear among parents that more attention will be paid to children with special educational needs, while their classmates will be deprived of it. In truth, these fears are groundless – the teachers use a special method that takes into account the needs of different students. Psychological barriers can also be internal. For example, they are quite common among elderly retirees. Without the usual work, which used to be a source of motivation and communication, some of these people face a number of psychological problems: feelings of depression, abandonment, loneliness, which can turn into depression and apathy.

Economic barriers arise when people are denied employment due to prejudice: for example, when a job candidate is seen as “too young” or “too old” to be competent. The fears and anxieties of the employer are usually ungrounded and have nothing to do with the candidate’s actual skillset. Economic barriers can also mean lack of funds for basic needs such as clothing, household goods, utilities or even food. Such barriers can be faced by anyone who is in a difficult financial situation or cannot find a job, a source of income.

There are also institutional barriers, which means that laws, regulations, and services do not always take into account the needs of different people or restrict access entirely. For example, until the year 2017, more than 450 professions were banned for women in Ukraine purely on the basis of their sex. This was upheld by decree № 256 of the Ministry of Health, which we inherited from the Soviet Union. In fact, this legislature deprived women of the freedom to choose any profession they wanted to and put them in an unequal position with men.

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