A video featuring a young blind pianist in North Macedonia who uses a guide dog is raising awareness about the difficulty of getting around in a society that doesn’t allow guide or service dogs on public transportation or in public buildings. The pianist, Emma Ananievska, focused on the barriers she faced trying to access businesses such as banks in the capital city Skopje.
The video was funded by a grant from Internews to IDEA South East Europe’s civic media platform Vidi Vaka and was aired by other media and shared on extensively Facebook.
Shortly after the release of the video, JSP, a public transportation company in Skopje, announced that assistance dogs would be allowed on their buses. Two other public institutions then announced similar changes to their rules.
Watch: Emma Ananievska: It is Necessary to Change People’s Awareness and Explain the Function of the Guide Dog (in Macedonian)
While the decision to allow guide dogs cannot be directly linked to Vidi Vaka‘s video, the content contributed significantly to raising public awareness about the issue and provided advocacy groups with a strong message they could use to pressure those in positions of power to help address it.
Vidi Vaka has been using the Engaging Content Grant awarded by Internews through USAID’s Balkan Media Assistance Program to produce a number of mini-documentaries for their YouTube channel that spotlight issues faced by marginalized communities in North Macedonia, including the transgender community.
Some of the videos have contributed to the adoption of new legislation and changes to existing rules that ultimately benefit and improve people’s lives.