Development and human rights for all

Monitoring the implementation of the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities [E/CN.5/2005/5] - Part 1

Economic and Social Council

E/CN.5/2006/4
Distr: General
18 November 2005
Original: English

Commission for Social Development
Forty-fourth session
8-17 February 2006
Item 3(b) of the provisional agenda*
Follow-up to the World Summit for Social Development:
review of relevant United Nations plans and programmes
of action pertaining to the situation of social groups

Note by the Secretary-General

At its forty-eighth session, the General Assembly adopted the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities, contained in the annex to its resolution 48/96 of 20 December 1993.1 These 22 Rules provide a framework to further implement the goals of equality and full participation of disabled persons in social life and development as set forth in the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons, adopted by the General Assembly in its resolution 37/52 of 3 December 1982.2 In section IV, paragraph 2, of the Standard Rules, it was stipulated that the Rules should be monitored within the framework of the sessions of the Commission for Social Development. The appointment of a Special Rapporteur to monitor their implementation was also envisaged in that paragraph. In March 1994, the Secretary-General appointed Bengt Lindqvist (Sweden) Special Rapporteur on Disability of the Commission for Social Development. Mr. Lindqvist prepared three reports for the consideration of the Commission during his mandate,3 which was renewed in 1997 and in 2000.4 In June 2003, the Secretary-General appointed Sheikha Hessa Al-Thani (Qatar) Special Rapporteur for the period 2003-2005. The Special Rapporteur submitted an oral report to the Commission for Social Development at its forty-second session.5 At its forty-third session, in February 2005, the Commission considered the report of the Special Rapporteur on the monitoring of the implementation of the Standard Rules during the 20 months since her appointment.6 By its resolution 2005/9 of 21 July 2005, the Economic and Social Council welcomed the work of the Special Rapporteur, decided to renew her mandate through 31 December 2008, and requested the Special Rapporteur to submit to the Commission for Social Development an annual report on the monitoring of the implementation of the Standard Rules. The Secretary-General has the honour to transmit to the Commission the annual report of the Special Rapporteur.

FOOTNOTES:

  1. The Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities.
  2. A/37/351/Add.1 and Add.1/Corr.1, sect VIII.
  3. A/52/56, E/CN.5/2000/3, annex, and E/CN.5/2002/4.
  4. Economic and Social Council resolutions 1997/19 and 2000/10.
  5. Report of the Special Rapporteur on Disability to the 42nd Session of the Commission for Social Development.
  6. E/CN.5/2005/5.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Report of the Special Rapporteur on Disability of the Commission for Social Development

Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Global survey on Government actions for the implementation of the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities
  3. Activities and achievements
  4. The Panel of Experts
  5. Conclusion

I. INTRODUCTION

  1. This is my third report to the Commission for Social Development on the progress of Member States in the implementation of the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities. As on previous occasions, I am awed by the responsibility that you have entrusted to me, and I hope to be able to carry it out.

A. Guiding principles

  1. Throughout my work and regardless of the nature of the activities, there have been two main principles that guided my work. The first is the approach taken in carrying out the tasks and activities, and the second is the overarching goal towards which all activities are aimed.
The approach:
  1. During the past year, I have striven to adopt a constructive and affirmative approach, preferring to highlight the positive and celebrate the successes, while at the same time emphasizing the need for greater achievement and more concerted efforts.
The overall goal:
  1. While continuing to monitor, assess, evaluate and advocate for more meaningful and deeper implementation of the Standard Rules, I have not lost sight of the fact that the ultimate goal of all the work being done is the equalization of opportunities for persons with disabilities.
  2. Equalization of opportunities is a universal concept measured against universal norms, which should apply to all cultures and countries equally. The challenge is that we live in an increasingly diverse world where levels of development, cultural values, attitudes, norms, needs and services differ from one region to another, from one country to another, and even within the same country.
  3. While some countries are trying to perfect the conditions of equalization of opportunities for their disabled populations, there are other countries in which most have not been able to achieve basic human rights. This makes the job of monitoring the implementation of the Standard Rules extremely challenging.
  4. Added to this are the complexity and diversity within the disability movement itself and among the different types of disabilities. In many cases accessibility takes on a different meaning for people with different disabilities living in different geographical areas. This recognition of diversity has given rise to a richer culture within the disability movement, but it also requires that we monitor the equalization of opportunities in different ways by applying a variety of methods and looking at it from different angles and dimensions.
Scope of the report
  1. The present report builds on those of previous years. It is based on the vision of the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities, and encompasses the duties of the Special Rapporteur relating to the monitoring of Governments' implementation of the Rules, as detailed in section IV of the Rules.
  2. The present report is in two parts. The first deals with the results of the global survey on Government actions for the implementation of the Standard Rules. The purpose is to present a preliminary picture of the results. This is the first comprehensive survey to assess Governments' moral and political commitment to the implementation of the Standard Rules since their unanimous adoption by the international community. By targeting all Member States and two disabled persons' organizations in each country, the survey differs from its predecessors. It also differs from previous surveys by addressing each of the Standard Rules separately. The second part of the report deals with the activities and achievements of the past year.

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II. Global survey on Government actions for the implementation of the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities

  1. The idea of conducting a comprehensive survey was conceived at the start of the Special Rapporteur's mandate in 2003. However, it was not possible to do it at the time owing to practical, financial and logistical constraints.1
  2. Work on the survey began with the design of the questionnaire in June 2004. At the same time, a number of measures and steps were taken to guarantee the best possible results.2

A. Purpose and goals

  1. The purpose and goals of the survey are as follows:
    1. Determine the level and degree to which the Standard Rules have been implemented worldwide;
    2. Increase Governments' awareness of the Standard Rules and draw their attention to their moral and political obligation to implement them;
    3. Present to Governments possible steps to implement the Standard Rules by listing them among the responses to each question;
    4. Identify the demographic, economic, social and political characteristics of those countries that have succeeded in implementing the Rules;
    5. Chart the progress made by each country in the implementation of the Standard Rules and areas requiring further work;
    6. Identify the challenges to implementing the Standard Rules;
    7. Lay the foundations for a comprehensive database relating to Government actions on the implementation of the Standard Rules and use it in future monitoring activities;
    8. Identify the strengths and weaknesses in the implementation of the Standard Rules worldwide;
    9. Seek the participation of disabled persons' organizations and solicit their opinions with regard to Government programmes and efforts to implement the Standard Rules;
    10. Use the survey as a tool to encourage dialogue at the national and regional levels between disabled persons' organizations and Governments around the issues of equalization of opportunities. The survey may also serve as a guide to Government interventions.

B. Target population

  1. Consistent with its unanimous adoption and its reflection upon the moral and political commitment of Governments around the world, the survey covered all 191 Member States.
  2. In recognition of the role that disabled persons' organizations play as motivators, advocates and participants in the implementation of the Standard Rules, and in keeping with the vision of the Standard Rules that requires the participation of such organizations and the equalization of opportunities, two disabled persons' organizations from each country were included in the survey.

C. Survey instrument

  1. The survey is a comprehensive, detailed document, inclusive of every procedure Governments have agreed to implement in fulfilment of their commitment to the equalization of opportunities. Each question included a checklist relating to the procedure, and respondents were requested to tick applicable responses.3

D. Administering the survey

  1. A period of three months was given to fill out the questionnaire and return it to the office of the Special Rapporteur. Distribution began in November 2004 and the deadline was set for 31 January 2005.
  2. To include the widest number of disabled persons' organizations, the help of such organizations as the World Blind Union, the World Federation of the Deaf, Inclusion International and the Center for International Rehabilitation was enlisted.
  3. The deadline was extended until the end of February after the office of the Special Rapporteur received only a limited number of responses. Respondents were asked to include the legislation adopted and to elaborate on any other measures not included in the checklist provided.
  4. No specific questions were cited for Rules 14 and 15. Instead, "policies" and "legislation" were included as alternatives for the other rules.
  5. To ensure space for free expression, a section was included to allow respondents to state their opinions and impressions on all of the issues raised, as well as the survey itself.

E. Preliminary results of the survey

  1. All told, 191 questionnaires were sent to Governments and 382 to disabled persons' organizations.
  2. A preliminary audit of the returns resulted in the rejection of 16 questionnaires owing to incomplete responses or missing pages. Some 73 Governments and 41 disabled persons' organizations responded to the questionnaire, providing detailed information about 114 countries, or 60 per cent of all Member States.4 No responses were received from 77 countries, or 40 per cent of Member States.5
  3. Some countries with a federal system of Government felt unable to respond, as each province or state had its own legislation, plans and programmes.6
  4. What is most notable is the high response rate from the Arab region. At 86 per cent, this is the highest rate of response from that region in the history of these surveys.7

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Rule 1
Awareness-raising
  1. Respondents were asked about the measures taken to raise awareness in society about persons with disabilities, their rights, their needs, their potential and their contribution.
  2. Some 64.0 per cent of respondents stated that their countries had adopted national awareness-raising policies, while 58.8 per cent responded that they had passed legislation.
  3. Concerning the adoption of programmes and the drafting of media guidelines for raising public awareness, 61.4 per cent and 30.7 per cent, respectively, responded that they had done so. Additionally, 52.6 per cent of the responding countries said they had trained personnel in raising public awareness; 58.8 per cent had disseminated printed materials; 37.7 per cent had integrated awareness-raising into the school curriculum; and 53.5 per cent had worked on educating the public about the rights, needs and potential of persons with disabilities. The survey also revealed that 75.4 per cent of countries that responded routinely consult and collaborate with organizations of persons with disabilities.
  4. Many countries also provided examples of the measures taken to raise public awareness, such as designating a national day and celebrating the International Day of Disabled Persons (3 December).
  5. In response to the question about the nature and scope of the awareness-raising materials, 67.5 per cent stated that they covered all types of disabilities, including developmental and psychosocial disabilities; 70.2 per cent indicated that materials were inclusive of the social, political and development rights of persons with disabilities; and 69.3 per cent responded that the materials included the right to services, full participation and equal opportunities.
  6. On the issue of the potential of persons with disabilities, 64.9 per cent responded that their materials raised awareness of the issue; 66.7 per cent indicated that their materials included contributions of persons with disabilities to social, cultural, scientific and economic spheres; and 67.5 per cent responded that their media content described persons with disabilities in positive terms, considered the rights of persons with disabilities, and gave ample weight to issues of rights, diversity, dignity and equality.
  7. In 15.8 per cent of responding countries, the media promote attitudes of pity and compassion or negative stereotypes, in addition to discounting the role, needs and even the existence of persons with disabilities.
Rule 2
Medical care
  1. Respondents were asked whether Governments provided effective medical care to persons with disabilities.
  2. Of the countries that responded to the survey, 60.5 per cent indicated they had adopted policies to ensure access to effective medical care for persons with disabilities; 44.7 per cent had passed legislation; 56.1 per cent had introduced programmes; 64.9 per cent had allocated funds for medical care; and 56.1 per cent had trained medical personnel to deliver appropriate medical programmes.
  3. Additionally, 64.9 per cent indicated that they had made medical care accessible to persons with disabilities. The proportion of countries that consulted with disabled persons' organizations was 60.5 per cent, and 56.1 per cent of responding countries stated that they provided persons with disabilities with accessible information on medical services.
  4. Many countries also indicated other measures, such as setting up occupational rehabilitation units.
  5. In response to the question about measures relating to the health of persons with disabilities, 71.1 per cent stated that they had taken steps to raise awareness about the causes of disability; 78.1 per cent had worked on improving pre- and postnatal care; 65.8 per cent had implemented early detection; and 64.9 per cent had implemented early intervention measures.
Rule 3
Rehabilitation
  1. Respondents were asked whether Governments ensured the provision of rehabilitation services to persons with disabilities, to reach and sustain their optimum level of independence and function.
  2. The survey revealed that 56.1 per cent of countries have adopted national policies on rehabilitation; 49.1 per cent have passed legislation; 59.6 per cent have introduced programmes; 64.0 per cent have allocated financial resources; 65.8 per cent have trained personnel in rehabilitation and 71.9 per cent have adopted measures to ensure access to rehabilitation services for persons with disabilities. The proportion of countries that consult disabled persons' organizations is 71.1 per cent.
  3. With respect to the inclusiveness of rehabilitation services, 59.9 per cent responded that they offered such services to people with all types of disabilities; 77.2 per cent to children with disabilities; 69.3 per cent to women with disabilities; 67.5 per cent to persons with disabilities on low and limited incomes; 57.9 per cent to all geographical areas and segments of societies; and 62.3 per cent regardless of race and ethnicity.
  4. Of those countries that responded, 59.6 per cent and 57.9 per cent, respectively, indicated that they provided rehabilitation services to organizations of persons with disabilities and to the families of persons with disabilities; while 46.5 per cent and 47.4 per cent, respectively, offered community-based services and covered the needs of all types of disabilities. Fourteen per cent offered no rehabilitation services.
  5. On the planning, design, delivery and evaluation of rehabilitation services, 70.2 per cent said that they were done with the help of medical personnel and 50.0 per cent with the participation of families of persons with disabilities; 60.5 per cent said that rehabilitation programmes extended to schools, educational institutions and teachers; and 40.4 per cent acknowledged the involvement of the communities where persons with disabilities live. With regard to the participation and consultation of disabled persons' organizations in planning, designing and executing rehabilitation programmes, 55.3 per cent responded positively while 17.5 per cent stated that no consultation and collaboration mechanisms existed.
Rule 4
Support services
  1. Respondents were asked whether Governments provided support services, including assistive devices, to help persons with disabilities to increase their level of independence in their daily living and to exercise their rights.
  2. The survey revealed that 50.9 per cent have adopted policies relating to support services; 50.0 per cent have passed legislation; 46.5 per cent have allocated financial resources; 69.3 per cent supply persons with disabilities with the necessary devices and equipment; and 63.2 per cent do so in consultation with disabled persons' organizations.
  3. As for services provided by Governments in response to needs in the areas of technology, personal assistance, interpretation services and others, 61.4 per cent responded that they provided such services to children; 55.3 per cent to women; and 56.1 per cent to low-income and working-class persons with disabilities.
  4. Additionally, 43.9, 47.4, 46.5, 47.4 and 53.5 per cent, respectively, responded that services were provided to all geographical areas, to all socio-economic segments, to all races and ethnicities, to all religious denominations, and for all types of disabilities. By comparison, 24.6 per cent responded that there were no support or assistive services, or technological devices of any kind, in their countries.
Rule 5
Accessibility
  1. Respondents were asked whether Governments recognized the importance of accessibility in the process of the equalization of opportunities in all spheres of society, through programmes to make the physical environment accessible and measures to provide access to information and communication.
  2. The survey revealed that 56.1 per cent of the responding countries have adopted policies, 52.6 per cent have passed legislation, 43.0 per cent have introduced programmes and 42.1 per cent have allocated financial resources to make the physical environment accessible.
  3. In addition, 36.0 per cent have civil engineers and architects who are trained in acc ess issues; 54.4 per cent have worked to increase access awareness; 41.2 per cent have implemented accessibility programmes; and 62.3 per cent have involved organizations of persons with disabilities in the planning and implementing of access measures. Some 17.5 per cent of countries have no measures relating to accessibility.
  4. On the question of access to public buildings and institutions, 56.1 per cent said that provisions were made for access to schools and hospitals, community, medical and rehabilitation centres, clinics, public libraries, theatres and recreational centres; 57.0 per cent indicated that accessibility measures included all public buildings and government offices; 45.6 per cent stated that accessibility extended to the outdoor physical environment such as sidewalks, car parks and pedestrian streets; 36.8 per cent said that transportation facilities (land, rail, air and sea) were accessible; and 31.6 per cent indicated that no provisions for access were available in their countries.
  5. Concerning information, the survey revealed that it is available in an accessible form to persons with disabilities in 36.0 per cent of the responding countries; to their families in 35.1 per cent; to disabled persons' organizations in 44.7 per cent; and to society at large in 50.0 per cent. Some 30.7 per cent of respondents said that accessible information was not available to any segment or in any form.
  6. Concerning the measures taken by Governments to ensure the accessibility of information to persons with disabilities, the results showed that 45.6 per cent have adopted policies; 35.1 per cent have passed legislation; 46.5 per cent have introduced programmes; and 46.5 per cent have allocated financial resources.
  7. Moreover, 36.0 per cent have trained interpreters; 47.4 per cent have increased awareness of accessibility with regard to information; 37.7 per cent carry out accessibility programmes; and 54.4 per cent consult disabled persons' organizations. Some 21.1 per cent of respondents have not adopted any of the measures indicated above.
  8. In terms of the inclusiveness of accessibility measures, 60.5 per cent indicated that information was accessible to blind and visually impaired persons; 48.2 per cent to deaf/blind persons; and 54.4 per cent to deaf and hearing impaired persons. Accessible information is available to persons with developmental disabilities in 40.4 per cent and to persons with psychosocial disabilities in 33.3 per cent of responding countries.
  9. On the question of the nature and format of accessible information, the survey revealed that 69.3 per cent provide reading materials in Braille; 62.3 per cent provide reading materials in audio format; 29.8 per cent provide news magazines in both Braille and audio format; 64.0 per cent have information available in sign language; and 21.1 per cent have reading material available for persons with developmental disabilities. By comparison, 18.4 per cent of respondents indicated that there were no accessible materials in any form in their countries.
Rule 6
Education
  1. Respondents were asked whether Governments recognized the principle of equal primary, secondary and tertiary educational opportunities in integrated settings and took measures to ensure that equal opportunity was an integral part of the educational system.
  2. With respect to the measures taken by Governments to achieve the inclusion of persons with disabilities in mainstream education, the survey revealed that 65.8 per cent have adopted policies; 55.3 per cent have passed legislation; 69.3 per cent have adopted inclusion programmes; and 68.4 per cent have allocated financial resources. Furthermore, 61.4 per cent of responding countries have taken measures to rehabilitate the school environment to meet the needs of children with disabilities; 73.7 per cent have trained teachers and school administrators to deal with the needs of children with disabilities; and 60.5 per cent have provided schools with educational materials, equipment and facilities for the use of children with disabilities.
  3. Disabled persons' organizations are involved in the planning and execution of inclusion measures in 58.8 per cent of the countries. In 7.9 per cent of responding countries, none of the inclusion measures mentioned above have been taken.
  4. Concerning the provision of education to persons with disabilities, 87.7 per cent of the responding countries provide education to children with disabilities; 67.5 per cent to women with disabilities; 67.5 per cent to low-income and working-class persons with disabilities; 65.8 per cent to persons with disabilities from all races and ethnicities; 68.4 per cent to people of all religious denominations; 58.8 per cent to all communities (urban, rural, agricultural, tribal, indigenous, migrant, refugee and illegal aliens); and 60.5 per cent to people with all types of disabilities.
  5. In terms of the methods, means and techniques used to deliver education to persons with disabilities, 69.3 per cent of the countries employ sign language interpreters; 79.8 per cent use educational materials in Braille; 59.6 per cent use audio format; 67.5 per cent use appropriate materials for persons with intellectual disabilities; and 63.0 per cent use educational programmes specific to children who are unable to be integrated into the mainstream educational system.
  6. Eleven per cent of the countries surveyed indicated that they had no specific programmes or plans for the inclusion of children with disabilities into education, and did not use any of the methods, means and techniques mentioned above.

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Rule 7
Employment
  1. The survey asked about Government recognition of the principle that persons with disabilities must be empowered to exercise their human rights, particularly in the field of employment, and must have equal opportunities for productive and gainful employment in the labour market.
  2. The responses revealed that 59.6 per cent of countries have adopted policies, 61.4 per cent have passed legislation, 57.0 per cent have adopted programmes and 55.3 per cent have allocated financial resources for this purpose; 66.7 per cent have trained persons with disabilities to help them find employment; and 39.5 per cent rehabilitate and restructure the physical, administrative, social and work environment to accommodate persons with disabilities in the workplace.
  3. Responses also showed that 56.1 per cent raise awareness among relevant administrations and managers about issues affecting persons with disabilities in the workplace, 27.2 per cent provide accessible transportation to and from work and 48.0 per cent consult disabled persons' organizations about issues of disability and the workplace, while 14.9 per cent have no measures relating to the employment of persons with disabilities.
  4. Regarding equal opportunities for employment, in 44.7 per cent of the countries persons with disabilities have equal prospects of being hired; in 50.0 per cent they have equal prospects for promotion; in 56.1 per cent they have equal access to work benefits; in 54.4 per cent they have equal prospects for raises and pay increases; and in 55.3 per cent they have equal access to training programmes.
Rule 8
Income maintenance and social security
  1. Respondents were asked whether Governments fulfilled their responsibility to provide social security and income maintenance for persons with disabilities.
  2. Of those countries that responded to the survey, 49.1 per cent have adopted policies, 50 per cent have passed legislation and 54.4 per cent have allocated financial resources for that purpose, 45.6 per cent provide persons with disabilities with information regarding social security and income maintenance and 46.5 per cent consult with disabled persons' organizations, while 27.2 per cent have no such provisions.
  3. The survey revealed that those who suffer income cuts due to temporary disability receive income support in 50.9 per cent of the countries, while those whose disability is due to on-the-job injuries or accidents enjoy income support in 29.8 per cent.
  4. Income support is provided to individuals with physical disabilities, sensory disabilities, intellectual disabilities and psychosocial disabilities by 58.8, 51.8, 56.1, and 44.7 per cent, respectively, of the countries that responded. Women with disabilities receive income support in 55.3 per cent of responding countries, and the parents of children with disabilities in 43 per cent.
  5. In 37.7 per cent of countries, income support is provided to the caretakers of persons with disabilities. It is provided to all persons with disabilities regardless of their social, economic, religious, ethnic or racial background in 46.5 per cent of countries. There is no income support for any of the above-mentioned segments of the population in 21.1 per cent of responding countries.
Rule 9
Family life and personal integrity
  1. Respondents were asked whether Governments promoted the right of persons with disabilities to personal integrity and ensured that laws did not discriminate against them with respect to family life, sexual relationships, marriage and parenthood.
  2. Results revealed that 39.5 per cent of countries have adopted policies, and 40.4 per cent have passed legislation, 36.0 per cent have allocated financial resources and 43.0 per cent have raised public awareness with regard to the right to family life including parental rights for persons with disabilities, and 41.2 per cent have raised awareness among persons with disabilities themselves.
  3. Monitoring and follow-up mechanisms to identify infringements of the rights of persons with disabilities have been set up in 31.6 per cent of the countries that responded, and 51.8 per cent consult disabled persons' organizations.
  4. With respect to the full enjoyment of those rights, 75.4 per cent reported participation in family life, 74.4 per cent reported enjoyment of sexual rights, 81.6 per cent reported enjoyment of marital rights, 79.8 per cent reported enjoyment of parental rights, 74.6 per cent reported enjoyment of the right to privacy and 66.7 per cent reported access to guidance and counselling for persons with disabilities. No such rights exist for persons with disabilities in 12.3 per cent of responding countries.
Rule 10
Culture
  1. Respondents were asked whether Governments ensured that persons with disabilities were integrated into cultural activities and could participate on an equal basis.
  2. The results showed that 41.2 per cent have adopted policies to ensure the full inclusion of persons with disabilities in cultural life, 33.3 per cent have passed legislation, 41.2 per cent have adopted programmes and 45.6 per cent have allocated financial resources.
  3. Of the countries that responded, 48.2 per cent have raised public awareness of the cultural rights of persons with disabilities, while 50.0 per cent have raised awareness of those rights among persons with disabilities themselves. Some 49.1 per cent of responding countries provide persons with disabilities with accessible spaces to enable them to participate in cultural life, while 36.0 per cent provide them with accessible information about cultural activities.
  4. Moreover, 38.6 per cent of countries have made cultural activities accessible to persons with disabilities and 60.5 per cent have consulted disabled persons organizations regarding measures and procedures to be taken to make cultural activities fully accessible to persons with disabilities.
  5. The percentage of countries that have not taken steps to ensure participation in and access to cultural life by persons with disabilities stands at 26.3 per cent.

 

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FOOTNOTES:
  1. At the practical level, it was necessary to review previous surveys and studies to identify their issues, scope, design, management and the results obtained in order to build on their successes and to learn from the problems they faced. It was also necessary to identify the content of the questions and construct an instrument that validates and assesses the relevance of the responses. At the logistical level, it was necessary to identify the target groups, their locations and the means by which to communicate with them, and the time frame in which to do so.
  2. Identifying addresses and locations of target groups; translating the questionnaire into several languages along with the guideline for filling out and returning the questionnaire; obtaining postage-paid envelopes for the questionnaires sent to disabled persons' organizations; encouraging Governments to hold seminars with their local organization to discuss the content of the questionnaire and cooperate in filling it out; and finding and allocating the financial resources needed to conduct such a survey. The questionnaire was translated into French, Spanish and Arabic to remove any language barriers and allow for a smoother interaction with the content of the questionnaire.
  3. There was a total of 408 procedures and conditions which, taken together, would constitute the ideal level of adherence to the spirit, letter and philosophy of the equalization of opportunities and the Standard Rules. The questions were clearly worded and followed the order of the Standard Rules themselves, beginning with questions relating to the preconditions, then the target areas, and finally the implementation measures. Each question pertained to a Rule, and beneath each Rule was a checklist pertaining to the implementation measures.
  4. Two responses were obtained from Hong Kong and Palestine.
  5. This could be due to the length of the questionnaire (23 pages), or the number (47) and diversity of the questions. Another United Nations body had sent out its questionnaire on disability just prior to the Special Rapporteur's, which may have caused some confusion.
  6. Responses were received from each region as follows:
    • Africa: 23 countries, or 53 per cent of the countries in the region
    • Asia: 21 countries, or 43 per cent of the countries in the region
    • Europe: 30 countries, or 65 per cent of the countries in the region
    • Latin America: 21 countries, or 64 per cent of the countries in the region
    • Arab States: 19 countries, or 86 per cent of the countries in the region.
  7. A contributing factor could be the growing awareness in the region of disability issues, generated by the adoption of an Arab Decade for Persons with Disabilities in May 2004 and the establishment of a Parliamentary Committee on Disability within the Union of Arab Parliaments together with the accompanying awareness-raising efforts. It is possible to speculate that translating the questionnaire into Arabic and having a Special Rapporteur from the region may also have contributed.
  8. Participants included parliamentarians from the Council of Europe and the German and South African parliaments, as well as representatives of international disability federations. The symposium was instrumental in launching an inter- and intraregional, as well as intercultural dialogue on the equalization of opportunities, together with a dialogue between persons with disabilities and members of Arab parliaments. A number of parliamentary entities in other regions have expressed interest in having the same process and I am hoping that this process will expand to include parliaments in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
  9. Activities this year included:
    1. Inclusion International conference on poverty and intellectual disability in Europe, October 2005; contributed a paper on the same theme;
    2. Rehabilitation International conference on disability rights in a changing world, Manama, November 2005; presented a paper entitled "Disability rights as human rights: Focus on Women with Disabilities";
    3. Regional workshop on empowering women with disabilities, Manama, November 2005; participated in designing and planning the workshop;
    4. Gladnet regional workshop on people with disabilities in the labour market, Manama, November 2005; presented a paper entitled "The right to work for persons with disabilities";
    5. International conference of the World Federation of the Deaf, "Our Rights-Our Future", Helsinki, September 2005; presented a paper entitled "Disability rights in the context of human rights instruments";
    6. Meeting with the Swedish consortium of disabled persons' organizations in the context of a country visit to Sweden initiated by that group, September 2005;
    7. International conference of the Global Forum for Health Research, "Forum 9: Poverty, Equity and Health Research", Mumbai, India, September 2005. My office contributed a presentation entitled "The right to health: lessons from the disability movement";
    8. International conference on sports for persons with intellectual disabilities, Damascus, September, 2005;
    9. UNESCO flagship meeting on indicators for inclusion in education, Paris, June 2005. My office contributed a presentation entitled "Ensuring inclusion in education for persons with disabilities";
    10. UNESCO meeting on education for all in the Arab States, Beirut, June 2005;
    11. United Nations regional consultative meeting on the international convention, Morocco, July 2005;
    12. Meeting with Tunisian disabled persons' organizations in the context of a country visit to Tunisia, July 2005;
    13. Meeting with Guinean disabled persons' organizations in the context of a country visit to Guinea, July 2005;
    14. International conference on urban youth and children in the Middle East and North Africa; participated in the World Bank-sponsored parallel sessions on children and youth with disabilities, Dubai, May 2005;
    15. Regional conference on diagnosing, measuring and responding to autism, Dubai, March 2005.

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