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Restricted access - 29 August 2007

Ulaanbaatar has rather chaotic traffic and infrastructure.

It is known for open manhole covers, which fortunately, are visible in the strong sunlight in summer, but turn nasty when covered with a sheet of cardboard and a thin layer of snow in winter. Apparently in the past a VSO stepped right into one from a parked car and broke her leg. It is understandable then that injury, espacially among the poor, is a common cause of disability.

We attended a briefing at the Umbrella organisation for disabled people's groups which was enlightening. The medical model of disability popularly understood here, implying prescribed 'treatment'- is in contrast with the social model of disability I have begun to understand - as a form of exclusion or denial of access from public and private space. The Umbrella organisation of disability groups had several wheelchair users and crutch users (the latter visibly more prevalent here in Mongolia) from the twently-odd advocacy groups working in the building, and after years, had had a ramp installed in the last week, allowing users to enter the premises without being manhandled through the door.

I spoke to the chair of the disabled business persons association while there. In future, I hope it might be possible to arrange a meeting between their representative and some construction teachers, to discuss the background to livelihoods and building accessibility in Mongolia for physically disabled users.

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