The Republic of Azerbaijan is a state member of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Option Protocol of this Convention since October 2, 2008. Article 16 (“Ensuring access to cultural and sports facilities for persons with disabilities”) of the Law On the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (№ 1153-VQ of May 31, 2018) obliges that relevant executive authorities shall ensure that cultural institutions and sports facilities are accessible to persons with disabilities. By Article 14. (The right of access to cultural institutions and cultural resources”) of the Law on Culture (2012), preferential use of cultural resources is provided to persons with disabilities, including children under 18 years of age with disabilities.
According to the information of the State Statistics Committee, by the beginning of 2020, the number of persons with disabilities who receive a pension and allocation is 633 469, and 62 951 of them are children under 18 with limited health capacities.
The Decision of the Cabinet of Ministers On the Implementation of a Comprehensive Programme on the Problems of Disabled People in the Republic of Azerbaijan (№ 185 of May 10, 1994) assigned the following tasks to the Ministry of Culture:
- To provide relevant jobs in various clubs and cultural centres for those who are visually impaired or children with disabilities of groups I and II in the area of special music education;
- To organise departments for readers who are blind at the central libraries in the cities;
- To strengthen the offices of the Azerbaijan Deaf Society in the relevant houses of culture;
- To hold regular holidays, concerts and performances, and other actions for children with disabilities;
- To provide free access to all museums for members of disabilities communities, et cetera.
Wheelchairs and lifts have been installed in the Heydar Aliyev Palace, the Azerbaijan State Academic National Drama Theatre, the Azerbaijan State Puppet Theatre, the Azerbaijan State Russian Drama Theatre and the Azerbaijan State Theatre for Young Spectators and many other major cultural institutions to ensure the cultural rights of persons with disabilities.
Public organisations representing people with disabilities are exempt from paying rent for buildings with cultural clubs, houses of culture, libraries.
To ensure equal access to cultural life for people with disabilities, in 2016, the National Library developed a methodological manual titled “Organisation of library services for people with disabilities”.
The Republican Library for People who are Visually Impaired annually records copies of new books that are included in the library’s fund and makes them available to visually impaired readers living in the republic’s regions. In addition, the library has been equipped with modern technical equipment; all computers have been loaded with a particular programme, “Jaws”, for the visually impaired. At the same time, the library organises training courses for the middle and older generation of readers in the new Latin script Braille.