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UN Programme on Disability   Working for full participation and equality

2001 Observance of the
International Day of Disabled Persons

International Day of Disabled Persons 3 December 2001

United Nations expert group meeting on disability-sensitive policy and programme monitoring and evaluation
UNHQ, New York, 3-5 December 2001

Country Paper: Ecuador*

By Julio Mantilla Arias, December 2001


The attention to people with disabilities in Ecuador has been characterized to be of low coverage and faulty quality, based mainly on the actions of the private sector and in some institutions of the public sector that have assumed they responsibility since two decades ago.


In the field of laws Ecuador is one of the first countries in America that has a group of norms and legal dispositions that guide to almost all the activities regarding disabilities.

The constitution mentions disabilities expressly in several articles but, especially in the 53rd where the State guarantees the attention to people with disabilities in all the fields.

There is also a specific law, the Law 180 of Disabilities that was reformed through the Law No. 2000 - 25, sent September 26, 2000.

The country has subscribed several international agreements on disabilities that also become norms for Ecuador.


A 1996 investigation of the Central University points out that in the country, 48.9% of people have some type of deficiency, 13.2% some disability, and 4.4% some impairment.

This means that in Ecuador there are one million six hundred thousand people with some disability, in comparison with the figures given by the WHO (10% of the population), we have 3.2% above this; and considering the conditions the country is developing are negative, probably this percentage should have increased.

By regions: in the East, of the population's total, 15.2% have some disability, in the Coast, 15.4% and in the Andean Region 11.42%.

People with disabilities are distributed by gender with a slight difference, not significant between men and women, same situation happens in relation to the urban and rural sector.

In the investigation it was found that 40% of children younger than 5 years have some deficiency that could originate disabilities. The most frequent deficiencies found in these children refer to psychological deficiencies, of the language, skeletal muscle, deformity, organic, of sight and auditory, in that order.

The most frequent causes in these deficiencies are due to hereditary and congenital problems, accidents, illnesses and problems from birth.

The most frequent deficiencies that cause disabilities, in older than 5 years, are the following:

  1. Intellectual and psychological deficiency
  2. Muscle - skeletal deficiency
  3. Language and speech
  4. Organic
  5. Sight deficiency
  6. Auditory deficiency
  7. Deformity deficiency

The investigation indicates that the most frequent disabilities are related to locomotion, communication, behavior, body control and dexterity.

Of 13.2% of population (1.600.000 people with disabilities) they distribute as follows:

  • 592.000 people with physical deficiencies;
  • 432.000 people for mental and psychological deficiencies;
  • 363.000 for visual deficiencies
  • 213.000 for auditory and language deficiency

In older than 5 years the investigation determines, as main causes: illnesses, inheritance, problems from birth, rapes and accidents.

Among the most important characteristics that evidence the situation of people with disabilities, we can indicate down the following:


37.9% of disabled people doesn't have any instruction level. 42% has studied the primary school at some time; 10.5% has studied the secondary; 1.8% has attended university. Of the corresponding data, 6.1% attended schools of special education and the 0.5% of population with disabilities went to schools with integration programs.


18.2% of people with disabilities have a job. 29.1 % of the unemployed population is not integrated to the work due to the level of its disability. Women are more discriminated against getting a job and the problem is more complicated in the urban sector that in the rural.


According to the type of attention received, the investigation points out that they have received medical care ( visits at least once to the medical doctor, not necessarily by an specialist) 89%, of these 18.4% has received functional rehabilitation of medical kind, and especially for people with physical and sensorial deficiencies, 6.6% said that have received early stimulation, 12% language therapy and 14% psychiatric and psychological support, 89.9% of the population with disabilities doesn't use technical aid.


In the analysis of the disabilities situation e the following weaknesses and strengths stand out:


  • The disabilities in the Ecuador affects approximately 13.2% of the population,( 1'600.000 people), only 2% of these group receive some attention.
  • The incidence of the problem becomes worse mainly in the urban marginal and rural, due to poverty, that doesn't allow them .
  • Discrimination in the attention for type of disability.
  • Deficiency in prevention programs.
  • The actions of opportune detection and of early intervention are scarce.
  • Faulty quality and covering of attention to the population with disabilities due to the centralization of the services in the main cities.
  • In spite of efforts for social and labor integration isolated actions continue to be given in a few cities.
  • There is not a good level of coordination of actions among the different sectors involved in the process of integral rehabilitation. Not this considered a true National System of Prevention, Attention and Integration of People with Disabilities.
  • Human, materials and economic resources are insufficient for the attention in health, education, work, technical aid for people with disabilities are not available
  • The levels of knowledge and sensitization in the community have not been extended to all the social segments.
  • One of the weakest aspects are occupational training and labor insertion.


  • There is a better level of knowledge and sensitization in certain sectors of the community on the disabilities and disabled people rights.
  • To have normative rules: Constitution of the Republic, Special Law for Disabilities, Regulations Policies and dispositions.
  • There is a National Council that has achieved several advances in aspects like policies, coordination, coordination, rationalization of activities, canalization of resources, sensitization.
  • It has been achieved the organization and invigoration of the organisms of people with disabilities
  • The topic of the disabilities has taken a position in the national environment, it is part of the problem that demands solutions and resources.
  • There is a new paradigm in the field of the disabilities based on the personal autonomy and human rights, overcoming the conceptions of the paternalism and charity.
  • It has been possible to concert the interest from the authorities to level of Presidency, National Congress and Government's high organisms.
  • The conscience has grown in people with disabilities and their families.
  • It has been possible to make aware in the public and private organisms the necessity of coordinated actions and efforts.
  • An important number of disabled people exist in the country, professionals and representatives of institutions that have been trained in several topics on disabilities.
  • At the present time there are several special programs of direct help to disabled people by entities of the public and private sector: for training, technical aids, scholarships, credits for small business, labor insertion, organization.
  • A process of decentralization has begun through the Provincial Commissions of Disabilities and the strengthening of these with the incorporation of the Municipalities so that they assume their responsibilities.
  • An important infrastructure and human resources have been formed for the attention of people with disabilities.

* The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the United Nations Secretariat. This document has not been formally edited.

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Chapter 2
of the civil rights

3. The equality before the law. All the people will be considered equal and they will enjoy the same rights, freedoms and opportunities, without discrimination in reason from birth, age, sex, ethno, color, social origin, language; religion, political affiliation, economic position, sexual orientation; state of health, disability, or difference of any other nature.

Art. 47. - In the public and private environment they will receive high-priority, preferable and specialized attention: the children and adolescents, the pregnant women, people with disabilities, those that suffer of catastrophic illnesses of high complexity and those of the third age. In the same way, they will be assisted: people in situation of risk and victims of domestic violence, infantile abuse, natural or anthropogenic disasters.

Art. 50. - The State will adopt the measures that assure the children and adolescents the following guarantees:

3. Preferable attention for their full social integration, to those that have disabilities.

Art. 53. - The State will guarantee the prevention of disabilities and the attention and integral rehabilitation of people with disabilities, especially in cases of poverty. Jointly with the society and the family, it will assume the responsibility of their social integration and equality of opportunities.

The State will establish measures that guarantee to people with disabilities, the use of goods and services, especially in the areas of health, education, training, labor insert and recreation; and measures that eliminate the communication barriers, as well as the urbane, architectural and of accessibility to the transport that hinder their mobilization. The municipalities will have the obligation of adopting these measures in the environment of their attributions and districts.

People with disabilities will have preferable treatment in the obtaining of credits, exemption and tributary discounts, of conformity with the law.

The right of people with disability is recognized, to the communication by means of alternative forms, as the Ecuadorian sign language for deaf, verbalism, the Braille system, and others.

Art. 57. - The obligatory general social security will cover the illness contingencies, maternity, risks of the work, cessation, age, impairment, disability and death.

Art. 66. - The education is people's unrenounceable right, inexcusable duty of the State, the society and the family; high-priority area of the public investment, requirement of the national development and guarantee of the social justness. It is responsibility of the State to define and to execute policies that allow reaching these purposes.

The State will guarantee the education for people with disabilities.

Art. 82. - The State will protect, stimulate, promote, and coordinate the physical culture, the sport and the recreation, as activities for the integral formation of people. It will provide of resources and infrastructure that allow the propagation of this activities.

It will favor the preparation and the participation of high yield sportsmen in national and international competitions, and it will foment the participation of people with disabilities.

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United Nations, 2003-04
Department of Economic and Social Affairs
Division for Social Policy and Development