United Nations


General Assembly

Distr. GENERAL  

8 December 1989


                                                       78th plenary meeting
                                                       8 December 1989
     Implementation of the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled
     Persons and the United Nations Decade of Disabled Persons
     The General Assembly,
     Recalling all its relevant resolutions, including resolution 37/52 of
3 December 1982, by which it adopted the World Programme of Action concerning
Disabled Persons,and resolution 37/53 of 3 December 1982, in which it,
inter alia, proclaimed the period 1983-1992 the United Nations Decade of
Disabled Persons,
     Recalling also its resolution 43/98 of 8 December 1988, and reaffirming
all of the relevant provisions contained therein, in particular, the list of
priorities for global activities and programmes during the second half of the
United Nations Decade of Disabled Persons set forth in the annex to the
     Taking note of Economic and Social Council resolution 1989/52 of
24 May 1989, in which the Council, inter alia, urged Member States, bodies and
organizations of the United Nations system and intergovernmental and
non-governmental organizations to provide all possible support to the
awareness and fund-raising campaigns to give added momentum to the Decade,
     Noting the important work currently being undertaken by the
Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities on
human rights and disability, which could serve as a useful basis for the
continued efforts to ensure for disabled persons the enjoyment of human rights
and fundamental freedoms,
     Taking into account the concrete measures already carried out by the
Governments of Member States, the bodies and organizations of the United
Nations system and non-governmental organizations to implement the objectives
of the World Programme of Action within the framework of the Decade, and
recognizing that much more should be done at all levels to improve the living
conditions of persons with disabilities,
     Mindful that Member States bear the ultimate responsibility for the
implementation of the World Programme of Action and that national disability
committees or similar co-ordinating bodies play a crucial role in this regard,
     Recognizing the pivotal role of the United Nations in promoting the
exchange of information, experience and expertise and closer regional and
interregional co-operation towards more effective strategies and policies to
advance the status and welfare of persons with disabilities,
     Stressing that the Centre for Social Development and Humanitarian Affairs
of the Secretariat is the focal point within the United Nations for the
implementation and monitoring of the World Programme of Action,
     Noting with satisfaction the strengthening of the Disabled Persons Unit
of the Centre through the generous financial support of some Governments,
     Concerned that the Voluntary Fund for the United Nations Decade of
Disabled Persons continues to suffer from a lack of sufficient contributions
and that, unless this declining trend is reversed and the resource capacities
of the Fund are strengthened, many priority requests may not be met and the
implementation of the World Programme of Action will be seriously affected,
     Mindful that, since developing countries are experiencing difficulties in
mobilizing resources, international co-operation should be encouraged to
assist in national efforts to implement the World Programme of Action and the
objectives of the Decade,
     Noting that the International Meeting on Human Resources in the Field of
Disability was held at Tallinn, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, from 14
to 22 August 1989 and that it adopted a nine-point strategy to promote the
participation, training and employment of disabled persons, especially in
developing countries,
     Having considered the report of the Secretary-General,
     1.   Reaffirms the validity of the World Programme of Action concerning
Disabled Persons;
     2.   Reiterates that for the second half of the United Nations Decade of
Disabled Persons, special emphasis should be placed on the equalization of
opportunities for disabled persons;
     3.   Urges Member States, intergovernmental organizations and
non-governmental organizations concerned to translate into action at all
levels, as appropriate, the priorities for global activities and programmes
during the second half of the Decade, such as those set forth in the annex to
General Assembly resolution 43/98;
     4.   Renews its invitation to all States to give high priority to
projects concerning the prevention of disabilities, rehabilitation and the
equalization of opportunities for disabled persons within the framework of
bilateral assistance, as well as financial support to strengthen organizations
of disabled persons;
     5.   Invites Governments to participate actively in the international
co-operation with a view to improving the living conditions of disabled
persons by encouraging professional experts, in particular disabled persons,
in various aspects of rehabilitation and the equalization of opportunity,
including the expertise of retired persons;
     6.   Requests the Secretary-General to assist Member States in
establishing and strengthening national committees on disability issues and
similar co-ordinating bodies and to promote and support the establishment of
strong national organizations of disabled persons;
     7.   Also requests the Secretary-General to encourage all organs and
bodies of the United Nations, including regional commissions, international
organizations and specialized agencies, to take into account in their
programmes and operational activities the specific needs of disabled persons;
     8.   Invites the Secretary-General, in connection with the feasibility
study on the substantive, financial and administrative implications of
alternative ways to mark the end of the Decade in 1992, called for by the
General Assembly in its resolution 43/98, to request Member States, in
consultation with organizations of disabled persons, to submit their comments
to him by 28 February 1990 for inclusion in the background document to be
discussed at the meeting of experts to be held at Helsinki in May 1990;
     9.   Requests the Secretary-General to strengthen the regional
commissions to enable them to promote technical co-operation activities and
the sharing of national resources for personnel training, the exchange of
information, policy and programme development and research and the
participation of disabled persons;
     10.  Invites the Secretary-General and Member States to involve disabled
persons to a greater extent in United Nations programmes and activities,
including the provision of employment opportunities, and to give particular
attention to improving the situation of special groups as outlined in the
World Programme of Action, emphasizing the need for social justice and the
participation of these groups in each sector of the society;
     11.  Invites the Centre for Social Development and Humanitarian Affairs
of the Secretariat to expand its close collaboration with intergovernmental
and non-governmental organizations active in the field of disability, in
particular organizations of disabled persons, and to consult with them on a
regular and systematic basis on matters relating to the implementation of the
World Programme of Action, with a view to ensuring that the results of the
Decade become meaningful and lasting;
     12.  Notes with satisfaction the progress made by the office of the
Special Representative for the Promotion of the United Nations Decade of
Disabled Persons;
     13.  Calls upon Member States, national committees, the United Nations
system and non-governmental organizations, especially organizations of
disabled persons, to assist in a global information and fund-raising campaign
to publicize the Decade through all appropriate means;
     14.  Recognizes the important role of non-governmental organizations,
especially those representing persons with disabilities in the effective
implementation of the World Programme of Action, in raising international
awareness of the concerns of persons with disabilities and in monitoring and
evaluating progress achieved during the Decade;
     15.  Requests the Secretary-General to ensure that contributions, in cash
or in kind, related to the Decade are channelled into the Voluntary Fund for
the United Nations Decade of Disabled Persons, while giving donors the option
of earmarking contributions for special purposes;
     16.  Reaffirms that the resources of the Voluntary Fund should be used to
support catalytic and innovative activities in order to implement further the
objectives of the World Programme of Action within the framework of the
Decade, with priority given, as appropriate, to programmes and projects of the
least developed countries;
     17.  Invites Governments and non-governmental organizations to continue
their contributions to the Voluntary Fund, and calls upon Governments and
non-governmental organizations that have not yet done so to consider
contributing to the Voluntary Fund so as to enable it to respond effectively
to the growing demand for assistance;
     18.  Requests the Secretary-General to bring the Tallinn Guidelines for
Action on Human Resources Development in the Field of Disability, the text of
which is annexed to the present resolution, to the attention of Member States,
national co-ordinating mechanisms in the field of disability, organizations of
the United Nations system, other intergovernmental bodies and non-governmental
organizations concerned with disabilities;
     19.  Requests the Secretary-General to report to the General Assembly at
its forty-fifth session on the implementation of the present resolution;
     20.  Decides to include in the provisional agenda of its forty-fifth
session the item entitled "Implementation of the World Programme of Action
concerning Disabled Persons and the United Nations Decade of Disabled
               Tallinn Guidelines for Action on Human Resources
                    Development in the Field of Disability
1.   The International Meeting on Human Resources in the Field of Disability,
convened at Tallinn, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, from 14 to
22 August 1989, having considered the situation of human resources development
in the field of disability, particularly in developing countries, firmly
believes that it is necessary to reinforce existing activities, as well as to
undertake new and innovative ones, in order to promote the further development
and continued progress of disabled persons.
2.   Following the adoption of the World Programme of Action concerning
Disabled Persons by the General Assembly, in its resolution 37/52 of
3 December 1982, there has been a growing need for higher priority to be given
to the development of the human resources of disabled persons, with specific
reference to education and training, employment, and science and technology.
In this connection, the General Assembly, in its resolution 37/53 of
3 December 1982, proclaimed the period 1983-1992 the United Nations Decade of
Disabled Persons, encouraging Member States to utilize that period as one of
the means to implement the World Programme of Action.
3.   The main objectives of the World Programme of Action are to promote
effective measures for the prevention of disability, for rehabilitation and
for the realization of the goals of full participation and equality for
persons with disabilities.  To accomplish these goals, due regard must be paid
to education, training and work opportunities.
4.   While it is acknowledged that the living conditions of the general
population in developing countries urgently need to be improved, the
objectives of the World Programme of Action call for the situation of disabled
persons to be given special attention during the remainder of the Decade and
beyond.  Effective implementation of the World Programme of Action will make
an important contribution to the process of development of societies through
the mobilization of more human resources.
5.   While it is also acknowledged that a number of countries have already
initiated or carried out activities within the framework of the World
Programme of Action, further concerted efforts should be made to integrate the
human resources development of disabled persons into intersectoral planning at
the national level.
                             GUIDING PHILOSOPHY
6.   Human resources development is a process centred on the human person that
seeks to realize the full potential and capabilities of human beings.  This
process is fundamental to the concept of equalization of opportunities, in
keeping with the goals of the World Programme of Action.
7.   Through human resources development, disabled persons are able
effectively to exercise their rights of full citizenship.  As full citizens,
they have the same rights and responsibilities as other members of society,
including the right to life, as declared in international human rights
instruments.  They also have the same choices as other citizens in the social,
cultural, economic and political life of their communities.
8.   Because persons with disabilities are agents of their own destiny rather
than objects of care, Governments and organizations need to reflect this
perception in their policies and programmes.  This means that disabled
persons, as individuals and as members of organizations, should be involved in
the decision-making process as equal partners.
9.   The abilities of disabled persons and their families should be
strengthened through community-based supplementary services provided by
Governments and non-governmental organizations.  These services should promote
self-determination and enable disabled persons to participate in the
development of society.  Governments should recognize and support the role of
organizations of disabled persons in enabling those persons to take charge of
their own lives.
                A.  Participation of persons with disabilities
10.  A statutory basis is required to enable disabled persons to participate
as full citizens in decision-making at all levels of the planning,
implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programmes.
11.  To facilitate the full participation of disabled persons and to enable
them to exercise their rights as citizens, access to information is
essential.  To this end, all information has to be adapted to appropriate
formats.  These information formats may include Braille script, large print,
audio-visual media and sign-language interpretation.  Information channels
should include television, radio, newspapers and postal services.  Governments
should work with organizations of disabled persons to identify appropriate
information formats and channels to reach disabled citizens.
12.  Governments should adopt, enforce and fund legally binding standards and
regulations to improve access for persons with disabilities, ensuring that
buildings, streets, and road, sea and air transport are barrier-free,
architecturally and in all other ways.  Communication systems and security and
safety measures should be developed and adapted to meet the needs of disabled
13.  To facilitate the recruitment of disabled persons and to assist
private-sector industries in hiring them, organizations at the national,
regional and international levels, including the United Nations, should
identify and maintain listings of qualified disabled candidates.
                 B.  Strengthening of grass-roots initiatives
14.  Local community initiatives should be especially promoted.  Disabled
persons and their families should be encouraged to form grass-roots
organizations, with governmental recognition of their importance and
governmental support in the form of financing and training.
15.  Governmental and non-governmental organizations concerned with disability
issues should allow disabled persons to participate as equal partners.
16.  The efficient functioning of governmental and non-governmental
organizations concerned with disability calls for training in organizational
and management skills.
                   C.  Promotion of an integrated approach
17.  Overall national policy frameworks with supporting legislation should be
18.  The essence of an integrated approach is the inclusion of disability
issues in all government ministries and at every level of governmental policy
and planning.  National co-ordination bodies, with linkages at the local,
regional and interregional levels, should be established or strengthened.  The
membership of those bodies should include all government ministries,
legislative committees and non-governmental organizations, particularly
organizations of disabled persons.  Those bodies should review existing
policies, plans and programmes, identify existing and projected resources and
monitor and evaluate the implementation of national policies.
19.  National development programmes should include disability components.
20.  Disabled women should be included in the existing national and regional
programmes aimed at women.
21.  At the level of service delivery, an integrated approach entails
co-operation and referral among professionals working in organizational
settings that provide educational, vocational, health and social services.
                   D.  Promotion of education and training
22.  The early years are critical in the overall development of a disabled
child and for the fostering of positive attitudes towards the child.  Specific
programmes and training materials should be developed to address these needs
during the formative infant and pre-school years.
23.  Education at the primary, secondary and higher levels should be available
to disabled persons within the regular educational system and in regular
school settings, as well as in vocational training programmes.  When such
education is provided to deaf students, teachers and/or interpreters who are
proficient in the indigenous sign language must be provided.
24.  Special education programmes and schools that promote the indigenous sign
language and the indigenous deaf culture must be available to deaf people.
Deaf people should be employed in such programmes and schools.
25.  Cost-effective alternatives to segregated school facilities should be
developed and implemented by Governments at the national and local levels.
These alternatives include special education teachers as consultants to
regular education teachers, resource rooms with specialized personnel and
materials, special classrooms in regular schools and interpreters for deaf
26.  The education of disabled children should involve the co-operation and
concerted efforts of health and social services, as well as of teachers and
parents.  It should provide support measures, such as technical aids,
especially adapted pedagogical approaches, and incentives for teachers.
27.  The content and quality of education and training should ensure the
acquisition of skills that are economically viable and that provide
opportunities for work.  Career education and vocational training programmes
should be available to ensure the transition of disabled students into the
economic mainstream.
28.  In addition to being offered formal skills training and education,
disabled persons should be offered training in social and self-help skills to
prepare them for independent living.  Special efforts should be made to
promote education and skills training for disabled girls and women, in both
urban and rural areas.
29.  General teacher-training curricula should include a course of study in
skills for teaching disabled children and young persons in regular schools.
30.  Each Government should have a national plan for training and employing an
adequate number of health, education and vocational professionals in
rehabilitation.  Persons with disabilities should be recruited for such
training and employment.
31.  In fields such as education, labour, health and social services, law,
architecture and technical development, which are often involved in the
different aspects of rehabilitation, professional training should include
training on the rights and needs of disabled people.  Professionals in these
fields should also be made aware of the resources available for disabled
persons so that appropriate referrals can be made or services provided.
32.  Appropriate technology should be considered essential for the utilization
of available resources.  This may include simple, universally available
equipment, as well as computer technology.
                         E.  Promotion of employment
33.  Disabled persons have the right to be trained for and to work on equal
terms in the regular labour force.  Community-based rehabilitation programmes
should be encouraged to provide better job opportunities in developing
countries.  Use should be made of the vocational services, guidance and
training, placement, employment and related services that already exist for
workers in general.  On-the-job training may be more effective than
conventional training.
34.  General development programmes that provide loans, training and equipment
for income-generating activities should include disabled persons.
35.  Employment opportunities can be promoted, primarily, by measures relating
to employment and salary standards that apply to all workers and, secondarily,
by measures offering special support and incentives.  In addition to formal
employment, opportunities should be broadened to include self-employment,
co-operatives and other group income-generating schemes.  Where special
national employment drives have been launched for youth and unemployed
persons, disabled persons should be included.  Disabled persons should be
actively recruited, and when a disabled candidate and a non-disabled candidate
are equally qualified, the disabled candidate should be chosen.
36.  Organizations of employers and of workers should adopt, in co-operation
with organizations of disabled persons, policies that promote the training and
employment of disabled persons, including women, and non-disabled persons on
an equal basis.
37.  Policies for affirmative action should be formulated and implemented to
increase the employment of disabled women.  Governments and non-governmental
organizations should support the creation of income-generating projects
involving disabled women.
                          F.  Provisions for funding
38.  In general, funding should be allocated through regular sectoral
budgeting systems.  A national rehabilitation fund may be established to
facilitate the employment or self-employment of disabled persons.  This fund
could be used to cover the costs of training, equipment and initial capital
39.  Similarly, funds should be established for loans to small-scale pilot
projects at the grass-roots level; such funds could be administered locally
with the use of simple procedures.
                     G.  Promotion of community awareness
40.  To increase community understanding of the rights, needs and potentials
of disabled persons, collaborative efforts with disabled persons and their
organizations are required to develop and promote a flow of information using
mass media, especially film, television, radio and print media.  In
particular, information for disabled persons and their families on all aspects
of living with a disability should be as clear and uncomplicated as possible.
41.  Community awareness programmes should include specific strategies for the
prevention of disability.  Government efforts aimed at early identification,
intervention and prevention should be strengthened through community awareness
and community involvement in programmes on disability.
42.  Persons with mental disabilities (mental retardation or mental illness)
or multiple disabilities are among the most stigmatized groups of citizens.
They have the right to make choices, take risks, control their own lives and
live in the community.  Their adult status, abilities and aspirations must be
respected and reinforced by their inclusion in decision-making, although many
may need individual advocacy to be clearly understood.
43.  It should be acknowledged that people with mental and multiple
disabilities benefit from education, skills training and work opportunities.
For many of these people, opportunities need to be individualized.  Support is
required to help them and their families to establish and maintain a positive
44.  The World Programme of Action should be translated into all national
languages, through governmental action.  Braille, large print and simplified
versions should also be made available by the appropriate media to ensure as
wide a distribution as possible to all citizens, including disabled persons,
their families, and non-governmental and governmental organizations.
        H.  Improving the methodology for human resources development
45.  Policies and programmes for human resources development concerning
disabled persons should be based on an assessment of their needs and resources
as well as on the potential of existing development programmes and services to
meet those needs.  The implementation of such policies and programmes should
be periodically monitored, with adjustments made to ensure effective
46.  Evaluation should be built into programmes at the planning stage so that
their overall efficacy in fulfilling policy objectives can be assessed.
Persons with disabilities should play an active role in developing the
criteria for monitoring and evaluation.
47.  Increased attention should be given to services for people with hearing,
speech, mental, intellectual or multiple disabilities.
48.  The requirements of particular groups, such as disabled children,
disabled women, the disabled elderly, disabled migrants and refugees, should
also be recognized and met.
49.  Governmental and non-governmental organizations should utilize recent
developments in education through communications media, also known as distance
education, which has been found to be an appropriate methodology in human
resources development in the field of disability.
50.  The local use of appropriate technologies for producing such items as
wheel chairs, prosthetic devices and mobility aids, as well as aids for
hearing and seeing, should take into account the technical, socio-economic and
cultural conditions in the particular society.  Each country should have a
national system for the delivery of rehabilitation aids.
                 I.  Regional and international co-operation
51.  Training programmes in human resources development in the field of
disability should be strengthened by collaborative efforts at the regional
and/or subregional levels.  Such programmes should be co-ordinated through
existing intergovernmental and regional organizations, including those of
disabled persons.
52.  International development aid projects should include a component
specifically aimed at supporting organizations of disabled persons and
training their members.  In addition, employment opportunities should be made
available to disabled individuals within these projects.
53.  All international development assistance programmes directed at
macro-level planning and development, such as those in agriculture or
education, should include a specific component ensuring the participation of
disabled persons in such programmes.
54.  At both the national and interregional levels, Governments should
strongly support collaboration with non-governmental agencies in specific
areas of disability, to ensure co-ordination and to prevent duplication of
55.  Linkages between organizations of disabled persons in developed and
developing countries should be strengthened.  This can be done through the
exchange of information, training and meetings to provide forums for disabled
persons to share experiences on strategic approaches.  Workshops and field
studies should be organized to train trainers and the management personnel of
organizations of disabled persons.
56.  Implementation of these Guidelines relies on effective action at the
national level.  This action should be supplemented by concerted efforts at
the international level, particularly on the part of the United Nations and
its focal point for the implementation of the World Programme of Action
concerning Disabled Persons, as well as relevant United Nations organizations
and specialized agencies.  National and international non-governmental
organizations, in particular organizations of disabled persons, should be
fully involved.