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    Volozhin without barriers

    October 2015 – May 2020

    Interakcia Foundation is a project partner, together with the Volozhin District Executive Committee (Lead partner), Public Association ‘Belarusian Association of People with Disabilities’, and Belarusian Public Association ‘Country Escape’.

    Budget: € 1,111,521, EU contribution – € 999,900 (90% of total).

    Funding programme: Non-State Actors and Local Authorities in Development Programme (NSA&LA)

    Location: Volozhin and Volozhin district, Minsk region, central Belarus

    Volozhin is the first district in Belarus to commit to an ambitious objective of becoming accessible to all categories of tourists, including those with disabilities.

    Thanks to the project, persons with loss of vision and/or hearing, physical or mental disabilities now experience less inconvenience while travelling around the Volozhin district, whereas local residents and tourists now have better understanding of what inclusion is and why it is important to involve people with disabilities in active social life.

    What a district should do in order to create and develop accessible environment for tourists?
    Monitor accessibility of urban environment: are the buildings, city routes, services accessible to all?
    Make sure that social workers, officials, owners and staff of local HoReCa organizations and NGOs are familiar with the principles of social inclusion;
    Develop a social inclusion development strategy in the district and adopt a clear action plan;
    Put in place accessible infrastructure in the district: equip existing tourist landmarks, hospitals, schools, shops and other objects of social importance with ramps, wide doors with no doorsteps, accessible toilets and parking lots;
    Develop and launch tourist products with elements of accessible environment by engaging rural farmsteads and supporting social start-ups;
    Promote inclusion and accessible tourism: run awareness raising campaigns, conduct inclusive events, present your accessible tourist products at tourism exhibitions.


    Thanks to the project, Naliboki Forest in northwestern Belarus became more accessible for people with disabilities: for the first time in Belarus, an accessible nature trail Bielakorac (Belokorets) was built there. The trail is almost 1.5 km long. While walking down the trail, you will see interactive information boards, tactile maps and models, accessible gazebos and toilets. Texts in the information boards were written in plain language and duplicated in Braille. You can play a birds game, get to know different kinds of fish from the Islach river, hug the trees and pick herbs for a tea. Tactile models and maps will show you the way and introduce you to the animals that live in the Naliboki Forest.


    In August 2018, Bielakorac nature trail became a location for an inclusive summer camp and INFEST festival.

    Another important output of the project was a video project ‘One Day of My Life’ that focused on challenges and achievements of people with disabilities who live in the Volozhin districts. Be persistent and run 4 laps on stadium every evening. Be assertive and dance like nobody else. Be wise and fly. Have a good sense of humor and read all Harry Potter books. Characters of One Day of My Life – girls and boys with disabilities – talk about their usual day and their dreams.


    You can watch all three episodes of ‘One Day of My Life’ here.

    Project results:
    279 objects in the Volozhin district underwent monitoring and received recommendations on how to improve their accessibility. 19 of them underwent reconstruction and are now adapted to the needs of people with disabilities. The list includes a district hospital, children’s art schools, administrative buildings, libraries and hotels, among others.
    In addition to the accessible nature trail in the Naliboki Forest, the town of Volozhin now has a fully accessible building which hosts a Centre for Inclusive Tourism, a hostel with 20 beds, and a modern conference room.
    Seven accessible tourist routes around the Volozhin district were developed to promote inclusive tourism in the area. Five rural farmsteads adapted their services to suit the needs of people with disabilities and developed their own accessible tourist offers. The towns of Volozhin, Rakov and Ivenets now have information boards, road signs and tourist signs for the blind and visually impaired.
    A team of experts developed an action plan to improve infrastructure and the quality of social and recreational services for people with disabilities in the Volozhin district. The action plan is a roadmap until 2028.
    Local stakeholders learned from Europe’s best practices in accessible environment and social inclusion by taking part in two study visits to Germany and Netherlands, as well as a series of workshops and trainings on social entrepreneurship and on how to create creative tourist offers and services.
    Project team developed a number of publications. One brochure presents a new tourist route ‘Accessible Volozhin’, while another summarizes the project’s experience. One more publication, a guidebook for local authorities, provides recommendations on how to create elements of accessible environment and launch innovative social and recreational services for people with disabilities.