at the launch of the study ‘Ending stigma’ and a documentary on psycho-social disabilities

Late last year, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Viet Nam commissioned a series of documentaries from persons with disabilities. As part of the project, a group of persons with disabilities received training on communication skills. They were then given cameras and asked to produce short films about their daily lives, the challenges they face and their aspirations for the future. The results were stunning and broadcasted on national TV. The project also served to help boost the self-confidence of the filmmakers.

The most popular film among the audience was “Experience with the wheelchair”. As recalled by Ms. Vu Thuong at the beginning of the film, “in Viet Nam, it is obvious that persons with disabilities have trouble moving because they have to use the wheelchair. But not everyone understands how hard it is”. The film then goes on to show some of the difficulties persons in wheelchairs face when moving around Hanoi.

In terms of accessibility, the UN is leading the way in Hanoi. Along with many other UN agencies, UNDP is located in the Green One UN House. The building is well known to be environmentally friendly and energy efficient, but little is known about its accessibility to persons with disabilities.

The first thing visitors see at the entrance is the ramp with handrails. There is no need to push or pull the entrance door, a single tap on the ID card reader opens the door automatically. It opens quite slowly, but fully, giving enough time and space for people in wheelchairs to enter the building.

Every door in the building and every route leading to meeting rooms and office desks are wide enough for people in wheelchairs. In addition, on every floor of the building, there is a spacious toilet for persons with disabilities.  

It is also easy to spot Braille signs around the building – evidence that the office is not only accessible to people with physical disabilities but also those with visual disabilities. Handrails are set up along all stairways. A screen-reader, which is a computer software that reads out the text on screen or whatever changes that are made on the screen, is available on every computer within the office.  

Because of all the features listed above, Disabled Persons Organizations frequently ask UNDP to hold events in the UN building. Earlier this year, UNDP helped organize the launch of the study ‘Ending stigma’ and a documentary on psycho-social disabilities. As is now common for many UNDP events, sign language interpretation was provided.

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