Review and appraisal of the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons - [A/58/61 - E/2003/5 Annex] - part 2
A/58/61 - E/2003/5
Overview of recent policy and programme activities
- General Assembly resolution 56/115 of 19 December 2001 called upon Governments and intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations to promote international norms and standards relating to persons with disabilities, undertake public information campaigns and direct special attention to specific populations of persons with disabilities, including children with disabilities, girls and women with disabilities and people with developmental and psychiatric disabilities. Thirty-two Governments and several intergovernmental and United Nations system organizations submitted reports on action taken to implement Assembly resolution 56/115.a
II. Activities of Governments
- Operative paragraph 4 of resolution 56/115 encourages Governments to take concrete measures to further the equalization of opportunities for persons with disabilities "by focusing on accessibility, health, education, social services, ... safety nets, employment and sustainable livelihoods".
- Many Governments reported that the removal of physical barriers and the creation of non-handicapping environments is a major element of national plans, policies and legislation. Several Governments enacted legislation and adopted technical standards on accessibility to buildings, public facilities and transportation services. These include China, which established a design code and technical standards on accessibility; Cyprus, which amended its Street and Building Regulations Law to remove physical barriers in public roads and facilities; Finland, which issued in 2001 national land-use guidelines and an Act on Passenger Transport; Greece, which uses its general construction regulation to improve accessibility to public transport; Malta and the Netherlands, which use their respective equal opportunity acts to promote accessibility for all; Mexico, which adopted in 2001 the Institutional Programme for Accessibility of Public Buildings and Infrastructure, which includes recommendations on accessibility and barrier-free facilities, as does the Accessibility Law of the Philippines; Maldives, which includes references to accessibility and persons with disabilities in building codes and regulations; Senegal, which is incorporating disability and accessibility considerations in revisions to urban planning codes; and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, which extended the right to public transport in its Disability Discrimination Act, 1995 (Chapter 50).
- Some Governments use the budget to promote accessible environments. The 2000 budget law of Italy provides financing for non-profit organizations to plan buildings for persons with disabilities. Other Governments prepare plans and targets to promote accessibility: Hungary targeted improving accessibility in public buildings, with emphasis on health care, education and training, and social services; Norway set targets for the period 2005-2012 to provide total access to buildings and public spaces, information and communication services, and public transport; technical requirements in Slovakia and the National Action Plan for disability policy in Sweden aim to increase accessibility in public buildings and spaces. Several Governments organized public information campaigns: Kenya used information campaigns combined with regulation to promote disability-friendly buildings and public facilities; Pakistan directs special attention to the design of accessible buildings and spaces in the public and private sectors; and in Switzerland a popular initiative on equal rights for disabled persons and a governmental bill now in process aim to guarantee access to buildings, public transportation and housing.
- Efforts to promote accessible information and communication technologies involve training national personnel, financial support, enacting legislation and drafting technical standards. Action to promote accessibility in alternative communications by Hungary includes support for the provision and training of sign-language interpreters. Trinidad and Tobago includes sign-language interpretation in daily news telecasts, and Portugal initiated Teletext services for people with visual impairments. In Spain, Public Laws 15 and 34 of July 2001 include measures to eliminate barriers in audio-visual products and the Internet. In connection with programmes established by Poland to support higher education, the Pegasus Programme makes it possible for persons with disabilities to obtain interest-free loans to purchase, inter alia, computer equipment. Thailand established an Information Technology Subcommittee for Persons with Disabilities in 1999 and is collaborating with the Government of Japan to establish in Bangkok the Asia-Pacific Development Centre on Disability, scheduled to open in 2004.
B. Health and social services
- Governments reported on a range of health and social services, with special emphasis on preventing disabling conditions, promoting inclusive education, rehabilitation and initiatives to support independent living for persons with disabilities. Government policy in Cyprus, Jordan and the Philippines focuses on the provision of social and medical rehabilitation and care; the focus in Hungary is on medical treatment and research in support of rehabilitation, prevention and the social integration of persons with disabilities. The Primary Health Care Act of Finland focuses on preventive measures, including health education and medical and vocational rehabilitation. The National Programme of Health 2001-2006 of Mexico focuses on the development of prevention and rehabilitation and initiated a national disability registry. Senegal is developing a national programme on community-based rehabilitation. Pakistan provides medical care for persons with disabilities and initiated action to eradicate polio. In the United States of America, Supreme Court decision Olmstead vs. L.C. (98-536) found that the unnecessary segregation of individuals with disabilities in institutions may constitute discrimination based on disability, and ruled that the Americans with Disabilities Act (PL 101-336) may require government agencies to provide community-based services for individuals with disabilities rather than place them in institutions.
- Many Governments provided information on measures to prevent disabling conditions. Cambodia incorporated prevention strategies into its primary health policies and programmes and is developing rehabilitation services in collaboration with the non-governmental community. Prevention and treatment of persons with mental disabilities are being addressed in 551 counties in China. Policies of both Italy and Norway focus on the prevention of disabling conditions, diagnosis and education; Italy provides support for families with severely disabled members. Maldives is conducting a public awareness programme on iodine deficiency and has initiated programmes to provide vitamin A supplements to children. Prevention measures in Thailand include the establishment of community health-care centres and programmes of immunization against polio, rubella (German measles), tetanus and meningitis.
- Many Governments reported on measures to provide services to enable persons with disabilities to live as independently as possible in their communities; these include policy initiatives on income maintenance and safety nets, and specific programmes and institutions. Switzerland revised federal legislation on disability insurance to improve opportunities for independent living for persons with disabilities; the disability pension programme in Sweden will be changed in January 2003 to promote the independence of persons with disabilities; and monthly pension plans in Brazil provide benefits to persons with disabilities who are unable to work or are living in poverty. Rehabilitation services in Spain are based on a constitutional mandate and include medical rehabilitation, health and social services, and ancillary benefits for persons with disabilities. Finland initiated an assistive technology project to improve staff training and develop new models of health and social services. The Centres for Recovery and Physical and Social Rehabilitation of Greece provide rehabilitation services and promote social inclusion and independent living for persons with disabilities. Assisted living services in Malta have moved from large-scale institutions to small-scale day centres for persons with intellectual disabilities. The Republic of Moldova established the National Scientific-Practical Centre of Neurology and Neurosurgery in 2001 to support independent living for persons with disabilities. Maldives provides assistive devices and financial support for financially disadvantaged persons with disabilities. Since 1999, Slovakia has been providing social care and financial assistance for citizens with serious disabilities.
C. Employment and sustainable livelihoods
- A basic trend among reporting Governments is the integration of persons with disabilities into regular labour markets, which is implemented through vocational training and quotas on the supply side, and the provision of financial and tax incentives to employers of persons with disabilities on the demand side. Brazil, the Republic of Moldova and Pakistan established quotas of 2 to 5 per cent for employment of persons with disabilities in regular labour markets. National legislation in Cyprus (Law on Disabled Persons (2000)), Italy (Law 68 of 1999) and Greece (Law 2643/98) promote the employment of and provide protection for persons with disabilities in labour markets. Hungary enacted provisions to protect persons with disabilities from discrimination and to remove obstacles to their employment; Malta encourages employers to provide placements for employees who become disabled; and the Netherlands Parliament adopted legislation in 2002 on the employment of persons with disabilities. Mexico is increasing environmental accessibility, identifying employment opportunities and promoting the integration of persons with disabilities into regular labour markets. Vocational rehabilitation policies in Norway are combined with measures to promote equal opportunities for employment for persons with disabilities, including supported placements and work at home.
- Several Governments discussed the role of financial assistance and incentives in promoting the employment of persons with disabilities. China adopted policies to reduce taxes for enterprises that employ persons with disabilities. Portugal, Spain and Thailand enacted policies, legislation and programmes to promote the integration of persons with disabilities into the workforce through financial incentives for employers. Starting in 2003 Sweden will provide financial benefits for improvements in rehabilitation and employment opportunities for persons with disabilities. By 2004 the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland plans to extend coverage under the Disability Discrimination Act, 1995 (Chapter 50) to small-sized firms, law enforcement and other areas where employment opportunities have traditionally been limited for persons with disabilities. In Poland the State Fund for Rehabilitation of Disabled Persons provides financing to targeted programmes addressed to persons with disabilities and employers, organizations and institutions working on their behalf.
- To enable persons with disabilities to obtain gainful employment and exercise their human rights, the Governments of Cambodia, China, Hungary, Kenya, Pakistan, the Philippines and Thailand have established training and rehabilitation centres or employment-related programmes. Both Finland and Hungary promote regular employment through rehabilitation and vocational training. The Worker Training Scholarship Programme of Mexico supports training for persons with disabilities who are unemployed through incentive-oriented quotas or reserved employment. Local non-governmental organizations in Maldives conduct training in basic computer skills for persons with disabilities. In 2000 the Philippines began a programme for people with disabilities to gain access to regular employment and training opportunities, from which an estimated 18,500 persons have benefited to date. Thailand established in 1998 an independent living training programme at the Sirindhorn National Medical Rehabilitation Centre and observed in 2002 the Year of Employment Opportunity for Persons with Disabilities.
D. Promoting inclusive societies
- Governmental efforts to promote inclusive societies take such forms as the creation of national plans or programmes having a strong governmental involvement, the commissioning of independent studies and the establishment of centralized bodies or coordinating mechanisms. Many commented on the contribution of the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities in the formulation and evaluation of policies and plans. Cyprus established the Rehabilitation Council in the Ministry of Labour and Social Insurance, the central body for disability issues. Disability policy and legislation in Finland focus on promoting independent living and equal opportunities for persons with disabilities; the State Council on Disability is an advisory body for ministries and public institutions. Hungary established a consultative body of Government pursuant to Act XXVI of 1998, on the rights of and equal opportunities for disabled persons. The National Council for Protection of Persons with Disabilities of Jordan, established under the Special Law for Disability Protection (Law 12 of 1993), provides protection and training programmes for persons with disabilities and supports private-sector and non-governmental organizations. In 2001 Mexico created, in the President's Office, the Cabinet-level Office for the Promotion and Social Integration of Persons with Disabilities and established the Consultative Council for the Integration of Persons with Disabilities to mainstream decision-making and coordinate public policies on disability. Norway provides follow-up on disability policies and aims to strengthen inter-ministerial cooperation on the Government's Plan of Action for people with disabilities. In Trinidad and Tobago the National Coordinating Committee on Disability advises the Government on matters related to disability. In 1999, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland established the Independent Disability Rights Task Force, which published "From exclusion to inclusion", a basis for policy and programme initiatives.
- Non-discrimination and the promotion of equal opportunities are the principal focus in legislative initiatives reported by Governments, including the equal opportunity acts adopted by Malta and Trinidad and Tobago, which protect persons from discrimination on the basis of disability; an amendment to the Constitution of Switzerland eliminates discrimination on the basis of disability. Kenya is reviewing its Constitution to ensure that disability issues are presented appropriately; and general legislation is being drafted by Senegal on medical rehabilitation, education, training and employment for the disabled. The 1997 Constitution of Thailand includes specific provisions for persons with disabilities and eliminated restrictions on the exercise of their rights. The Americans with Disabilities Act (PL 101-336) of the United States of America aims to eliminate barriers to the participation of persons with disabilities in social and economic life; the New Freedom Initiative (2001) of the United States is part of nationwide efforts to remove barriers to community living for people with disabilities.
- Other efforts involving strategies, plans and programmes to further social integration include, in Lithuania, the National Programme on the Social Integration of Persons with Disabilities for 2003-2012; in Portugal, the National Plan for Equality; in the Republic of Moldova, the National Programme of Rehabilitation and Social Protection for and Integration of the Disabled, 2000-2005; in the Philippines, the Plan of Action, 1993-2002; and in Spain, the Plan of Action for Persons with Disabilities (1997-2002). Brazil has introduced laws and programmes on social inclusion over the past three years, focusing on (a) integration into the public sector (Federal Edict No. 3298/1999; Multi-year Plan 2000-2003) and (b) establishing norms for the promotion and protection of the fundamental human rights of all Brazilians (National Programme for Human Rights). Programmes in Thailand incorporate the disability perspective. with emphasis on education, employment, rehabilitation and medical services. The Russian Federation targeted the following areas for policy development: strengthening the role of the State in medical and social services; supporting the production of technical devices for rehabilitation and upgrading disability analysis and information systems at the State level; and supporting organizations of persons with disabilities, including support for the formation of unions at all levels of society. In 2001, Slovakia approved a system-oriented approach to improving the living conditions of persons with disabilities. In 2000, to promote social inclusion, Sweden ratified the bills on a national action plan for disability policy, and on the Social Services Act and the Education Act.
- Both China and Maldives formulated national strategies to target persons with disabilities who have special needs. Under its Ninth (1996-2000) and Tenth (2001-2005) Five-Year Plans, China promoted work for persons with disabilities in line with national economic and social development planning.
E. Public information campaigns
- Governments reported that public awareness activities range from a single day's observance, such as 3 December, the International Day of Disabled Persons, to the proclamation of a special year or a decade. Italy and Mexico launched in 2002 an awareness-raising campaign on the rights of persons with disabilities and obligations related to employment. Poland plans to organize a series of national events during the 2003 observance of the European Year of People with Disabilities. Observance of the Day in Thailand included recognition of the efforts of companies to promote employment for persons with disabilities. Theme-specific campaigns include public information activities in Cambodia focusing on accessibility, while Portugal and Slovakia focus on equal rights, employability and the social integration of persons with disabilities. The non-governmental community cooperated with information campaigns in Cambodia, Pakistan and Maldives. In Norway, information policies aimed at ensuring access for every resident and enterprise to information on public sector activities and participation in the democratic process.
- Government reports indicate the trend towards equalization of opportunities for persons with disabilities in mainstream educational systems. Governments reporting on specific legislation on integrating children with disabilities into mainstream education include Cyprus (Law 113(I) 99 on Special Education), Finland (Basic Education Act), Hungary (Act on Equal Opportunities), Slovakia (New University Act (2001)) and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (Special Education Needs and Disability Act 2001). In Malta, the Ministerial Committee addressed children's special educational needs, which resulted in the establishment of a system for including parental views. Both Mexico and Norway have reported on policy-level commitments to integrate children and youth with disabilities into the educational mainstream. China directs special attention to integrating students with visual or auditory impairments and strengthening the management of special education schools. Kenya established educational assessment centres in each district to ensure the placement of children with disabilities in an appropriate educational institution. The National Institute of Special Education in Pakistan has developed a uniform policy on admission, placement, curriculum development and evaluation. The Russian Federation has taken specific actions to provide formal education and to integrate children with disabilities into the general school system. The Year of Education for Persons with Disabilities in Thailand in 1999 prompted general schools to provide facilities for persons with disabilities.
- The accommodation of students with special needs in mainstream education may involve training special education instructors and orientation for students with disabilities. Hungary provides special education mainly through the National Institute of Vocational Training, which trains teachers and vocational trainers. The Ministry of Culture and Development of Jordan provides schools for children with visual, hearing and physical disabilities with education and training specialists; both governmental and private-sector centres have developed resources to train and educate persons with mental disabilities. Pakistan developed a programme to train special education teachers. In Spain, practical training in the private sector and programmes of transition are promoting the social integration of persons with disabilities.
- Some Governments reported on the role of financial assistance in supporting education for persons with disabilities. In Italy Law 69 of March 2000 increased financial allocations to the School Integration Fund for 2000 and 2001. Senegal introduced a bill to provide scholarships and reduced administrative fees for students with disabilities who are in need. The National Education Act (1999) of Thailand entitles students with disabilities to 12 years of basic education at no charge.
- To accommodate the alternative communication needs of deaf persons, Governments reported on efforts to promote a national sign language. Brazil's Public Law No. 10.436 of 2002 made Brazilian sign language an official language. The Constitution of Portugal protects and validates Portuguese sign language as a form of cultural expression and an educational instrument for persons with disabilities. A Thai national sign language was adopted.
G. Activities of intergovernmental organizations, other entities and the United Nations system
- Regional intergovernmental organizations and the regional commissions of the United Nations undertook a number of actions to promote awareness and build capacities for the full participation and equality of persons with disabilities. Member States of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) proclaimed in May 2002 the Second Asian and Pacific Decade of Disabled Persons.b The African Union proclaimed 2000-2009 the African Decade of Persons with Disabilities to promote the full participation, equality and empowerment of people with disabilities in Africa. The Arab Decade of Disabled Persons, 2003-2012, has commenced following decisions taken at the twenty-first session of the Council of Arab Ministers for Social Affairs of the League of Arab States. The Council of the European Union proclaimed 2003 the European Year of People with Disabilities to highlight the barriers and discrimination that persons with disabilities face and to improve the lives of those who have a disability.
- The International Committee of the Red Cross will focus during the period 2000-2005 on
- developing project guidelines for treatment of amputees,
- defining a standard level of training and developing a training package for national personnel and
- improving and standardizing affordable raw materials, including prosthetic components.
- Activities of the United Nations system to promote the equalization of opportunities for persons with disabilities included action to build national capacities; further development of methodologies for the collection, analysis and dissemination of data on disability; support to improve the educational outcomes of persons with disabilities; promoting accessible information and communication technologies; training persons with disabilities for regular employment and sustainable livelihoods; and promoting strategies, policies and programmes to eliminate barriers to the participation of persons with disabilities in the mainstream. The Statistics Division of the United Nations Secretariat continued the development of a web site to disseminate data and statistics on disability, published Guidelines and Principles for the Development of Disability Statisticsc and organized regional training workshops on disability statistics. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), in cooperation with the Special Rapporteur on Disability of the Commission for Social Development, examined measures to strengthen the protection and monitoring of the human rights of persons with disabilities. OHCHR drafted a long-term plan for integrating the disability perspective into the activities of treaty monitoring bodies. Accessibility to the United Nations Secretariat is addressed in the report of the Secretary-General on the capital master plan (A/57/285); interim renovations focus on wheelchair accessibility and signage and lighting for restrooms, elevators and public areas; the public tour route at Headquarters is now accessible to persons with disabilities. The Department of Public Information and its network of United Nations information centres and information services provided media outreach on work of the United Nations related to persons with disabilities. The United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean collaborated with countries on the design of the round of population and housing censuses for 2000, which included recommendations on the collection of data on disability. The Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) focused on promoting self-reliance and employment of persons with disabilities, directing special attention to Braille computer training and community-based rehabilitation. The expert meeting on disability measurement for ESCWA countries (Cairo, 1-5 June 2002) noted the need to improve the quality of regional disability data, making appropriate use of the World Health Organization (WHO) International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Healthd and building on substantive contributions of the Washington Group on Disability Measurement. ESCAP directed special attention to self-help initiatives of persons with disabilities, relating to, inter alia, accessible environments, public transport and services, and strengthening the capacities of self-help organizations and organizations of women with disabilities. ESCAP supports the development of national disability legislation and awareness-raising measures, with special emphasis on the digital divide affecting persons with disabilities. The high-level intergovernmental meeting that marked the conclusion of the Asian and Pacific Decade of Disabled Persons, 1993-2002 (Otsu, Shiga, Japan, 25-28 October 2002) adopted the Biwako Millennium Framework for Action Disability to guide action towards an inclusive, barrier-free, rights-based society for persons with disabilities in Asia and the Pacific.
- The question of children with disabilities is identified as priority in General Assembly resolution 56/115. Actions of the United Nations Children's Fund to prevent childhood disability include addressing vitamin A and iodine deficiency disorders, providing polio vaccinations, preventing measles and eliminating guinea worm. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) focuses on the integration of refugee children and adolescents with disabilities into mainstream society through inclusive education and community-based rehabilitation. UNHCR issued guidelines on disability and produced an "Action for the rights of children" resource pack. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) promotes the human rights of Palestinian refugees with disabilities through skills development and integration into the community. UNRWA staff training includes improving curriculum, school buildings and equipment and educational outcomes of children with disabilities.
- The International Labour Organization (ILO) contributed to the equalization of opportunities in the areas of vocational training and employment promotion, and translated the ILO Code of Practice on Managing Disability in the Workplace (2001) into 10 languages. Activities of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations focus on improving income-generating capacities, providing emergency assistance to reintegrate war-disabled persons and other persons with disabilities and continued development of the web site for its database on the rural disabled. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization strengthened capacities for inclusive education in terms of the production of technical materials for training staff and educational professionals, literacy training using Braille, developing national sign languages and related systems for alternative communication, and organizing subregional workshops for teacher training in special education. Activities of WHO focus on preventing causes of disability, supporting community-based rehabilitation, and promoting social inclusion and equalization of opportunities for persons with disabilities. In 2001 WHO published the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health. The observance of World Health Day (7 April) in 2001 focused on promoting and protecting the rights of people with mental disabilities. The World Bank addresses disability issues in its lending operations to support the development of inclusive community-based programmes, provide social investment funds and support research on policies and strategies for the education and social integration of persons with disabilities. The International Civil Aviation Organization developed international Standards and Recommended Practices on access to air services and airport facilities for elderly persons and persons with disabilities; the latest recommended practice is included in the tenth edition of annex 9 to the Convention on International Civil Aviation. The International Telecommunication Union aims to ensure that people with disabilities have access to innovative new technologies and is currently investigating improvements to achieve greater accessibility.
H. Activities of non-governmental organizations
- General Assembly resolution 56/115 envisages the active participation of the non-governmental community, in cooperation with Governments, to further the equalization of opportunities for persons with disabilities. The International Disability Alliance is a network of seven international non-governmental disability organizations: Disabled People's International, Inclusion International, Rehabilitation International, the World Blind Union, the World Federation of the Deaf, the World Federation of the Deaf-Blind and the World Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry. Activities of the Alliance include
- lobbying United Nations bodies and agencies on common issues and concerns and
- strengthening the voices of persons with disabilities in international forums and networks of disability organizations.
- Brazil, Cambodia, China, Cyprus, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Jordan, Kenya, Lithuania, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Pakistan, the Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Maldives, the Republic of Moldova, the Russian Federation, Senegal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America submitted replies to note verbale DESA/DIS02/3 of 24 September 2004.
- See ESCAP resolution 58/4 of 22 May 2002, "Promoting an inclusive, barrier-free and rights-based society for people with disabilities in the Asian and Pacific region in the twenty-first century".
- ST/ESA/STAT/SER.Y/10 (United Nations publication, Sales No. E.01.XVII.15).
- Geneva, World Health Organization, 2001.