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Back to: Third Session of the Ad Hoc Committee
Daily summary of discussions

Daily summary of discussions related to Article 19

UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities
Third session of the Ad Hoc Committee - Daily Summary
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Volume 4, #6
June 1, 2004

Morning Session
Commenced: 10:29 AM
Recessed: 10:31 AM
Reconvened: 10:41 AM
Adjourned: 1:01 PM

Morocco reported that the African Group would be submitting written proposals later today.

Israel clarified that accessibility applies not only to physical and sensory disabilities, but also to mental and cognitive disabilities, and recommended adding to the chapeau of 19.1 “all kinds of” before "disabilities." There should be greater clarification of the definitions of public and private; any place and service open to the public should in principle be accessible. To that end, 19.1(a) and (b) should be deleted; in the chapeau of 19.2 “appropriate” should be replaced by “all possible"; and 19.2(a) should be revised as follows: “ensure, including by way of legislation and state-funded financial incentives, that places, buildings, facilities and services open to, and used by the public are accessible to people with all kinds of disabilities, including by way of provision of auxiliary aids and services.” In a new paragraph, 19.5, "auxiliary aids and services" should be defined as: "(a) interpreters or other methods of making orally delivered materials available to individuals with hearing impairments; (b) readers, taped texts or other methods of making visually delivered materials available to individuals with visual impairments; (c) guidance, advice and information in a manner intelligible to persons with mental, psychiatric and cognitive disabilities." The text of 19.2(b) should be replaced with “promote and encourage, including by way of state-funded financial incentives, the accessibility to people with all kinds of disabilities of residential places and buildings.” In 19.2(c), “public” should be replaced with “places, buildings” and at the end should be appended the words “open to, or used by the public.” In 19.2(g) Israel proposed replacing the text after “are consulted” with “at all stages in the process of formulating legislation, regulations, standards and guidelines in relation to accessibility.”
Israel urged States Parties be obliged to introduce legislation requiring the accessibility of places, buildings, facilities and services open to and used by the public, and proposed a paragraph on such.

3. (a) States Parties shall introduce legislation requiring that:
(i) all places, buildings, facilities and services open to and used by the public shall be made accessible, subject to no disproportionate burden being imposed and subject also to the possibility of providing for progressive realisation of accessibility in accordance with this sub-paragraph;
(ii) such accommodations are made in residential places and buildings as are
reasonable in the circumstances
(b) Legislation introduced under this paragraph shall include appropriate and effective remedies and penalties as well as efficient enforcement and implementation mechanisms." Israel proposed an additional paragraph that would apply to the legal system: “4. States Parties shall, in the implementation of this article, place special emphasis on taking all possible steps to ensure the accessibility of the legal system, including civil and criminal proceedings, the courts of law, tribunals, interrogation and testification procedures.”

Korea expressed concern that transportation is not included in issues of accessibility, and recommended a separate subparagraph between 19.2(a) and (b): “devise policies and necessary technologies in order to make public transportation accessible to persons with disabilities, and develop special transportation services for persons with disabilities as a complementary measures to public transportation.”

Philippines supported the recommendations of Israel and Korea. It proposed the addition in 19.1(a) of “but not limited to” after “including.”

Ireland, representing the European Union, reaffirmed its recommendation that this Article appear earlier in the Convention. The Article should be broad, but the current draft is excessively detailed, which could lend itself to being exclusive rather than inclusive; the proposal from Israel could take the Article even further in the wrong direction. The EU proposed a rewording of the chapeau of 19.1: “States parties to this Convention shall take appropriate measures to identify and eliminate obstacles to accessibility, including inter alia architectural, sensorial and cultural barriers, and promote equal access to information and means of communication.” It suggested deleting 19.1(a) and (b) as a result of this rewording. It suggested replacing the chapeau of 19.2 with: “These measures shall include.” The EU recommended deleting 19.2(a), as it does not add to the maintenance of a general approach in the text. It proposed that the ideas in 19.2(b) be moved to Article 15 on independent living. The EU suggested a rewording of 19.2(c) to emphasize consultation with organizations of PWD: “developing, promulgating and monitoring implementation of minimum national standards and guidelines for the accessibility of public facilities and services in consultation with organizations of PWD;”. It expressed concern that the essential principle of universal design has not been adequately addressed in this Article, and therefore proposed inserting “and universal design” after “assistive technologies” in 19.2(e). The EU proposed a new paragraph 19.2(e)(bis): “promoting the development, availability and use of universally designed goods, services, equipment and facilities, which are accessible and understandable to, as well as usable by, everyone, to the greatest extent in the most independent and natural manner possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design solutions.” As a result of this, the EU asserted that 19.2(f) could be deleted, as it was subsumed in the previous paragraph. It also stated that 19.2(g) could be deleted, as the idea was subsumed in the revised para 19.2(c). The EU proposed deleting 19.2(h), as it does not consider this subparagraph to be helpful in the context of accessibility.

Canada stressed that the elimination of barriers and the prevention of new barriers a key element of substantive equality, and therefore recommended the addition of the “barrier prevention factor” in the chapeau of 19.1. It stated that certain provisions of Articles 13, 19, and 20 address the same issue, but with emphasis on different points, e.g., 13(f) and 19.2(d) both encourage private entities that provide services to the general public to do so in an accessible manner. Other examples of partial duplication are 13(d) and 19.2(e); as well as 19.2(f) and 20(b); and 19 2(e) and 20(c). Therefore Canada suggested consolidating overlapping provisions of these Articles to strike a balance between applicable overriding principles and the enumeration of specific measures designed to give effect to these principles. Canada cautioned against enshrining in the convention any specific technical measures that time may render obsolete or outmoded, as technical advances will change what is required of accessibility to achieve equality. Canada stated that if a consolidation of these three Articles is attempted, it must take into account the issue of the duty to accommodate. It then proposed a chapeau to the suggested consolidated Article that could be titled “Accessibility and full participation,” to read as follows: “States Parties to this Convention shall take all appropriate measures to identify and eliminate existing barriers, to prevent the creation of new barriers, and to ensure accessibility for PWD in order to enhance their capacity to live independently and to participate fully in all aspects of life.” It supported the EU’s proposed Article 19.2(e)(bis). Canada asserted that consolidation is necessary to reduce or eliminate redundancy, to achieve brevity, and to promote consistency between Articles, rendering the Convention more clear.

China stated that accessibility involves the infrastructure of the State and that the building of infrastructure cannot be accomplished within a short period of time, and that depending on the economic and social development levels of countries, available resources should be used gradually to make infrastructure more accessible. Therefore, China proposed adding in the chapeau to 19.1 after “appropriate measures” the words “to the maximum extent of the available resources.”

Jordan stated that 19.2(a), (f), and (h) are of general interest are applicable to other articles, so there is no need to include them in more than one article. Thus, Jordan agreed with the EU that in order to consolidate this Convention, these subparagraphs should be moved to the Article on general obligations. It also proposed moving 19.2(c) to the Article on monitoring (Article 25). In 19.2(g), it suggested inserting “and families of disabled children” after “PWD.”

Kuwait proposed to append “all buildings that house key services for PWD must be made fully accessible” to 19.1(a) to clarify what is public and what is private with respect to facilities. It suggested a new subparagraph in 19.1: “(c) formulate and implement plans to progressively reduce and eliminate barriers to accessibility for persons with disabilities with respect to existing public buildings.” It also suggested dividing 19.2(b) into two sections, as follows:
"19.2(b)(i): “provide other forms of live assistance including guides, readers and captioning to facilitate accessibility to public buildings, facilities and information;” and "19.2(b)(ii): “provide sign language interpreters as intermediaries to interpret information from spoken language into sign language and from sign language into spoken language for access to public services, education and to facilitate participation.”
In 19.2(d) Kuwait proposed to replace “require” with "encourage.” In 19.2(f) it proposed to replace “universal design” with “personal accessibility to all PWD.”

Costa Rica suggested that the term “built environment” is too restrictive, as mentioned in footnote 67, and proposed replacing it with “physical environment,” as PWD should have the right to access to all spaces, not just buildings. In the chapeau of 19.1, Costa Rica proposed to insert after “to ensure” the words “the enjoyment of the rights and fundamental freedoms of PWD, their capacity to live independently.” In 19.1(a) “private or public” should be inserted after “and other other." 19.2(a) should be revised to read “providing and provide in public buildings and facilities signage in easy to understand forms, including Braille.” In 19.2(e), the words “where appropriate” should be appended. In 19.2(b), after the word “intermediaries” should be inserted the words “other support services and technological services.”

Afternoon Session
Commenced: 3:05 PM
Adjourned: 5:57 PM

Chile stated that the Convention should refer to various modes of transportation, including air transportation. Technology is a right, not merely a reference; technology is a means to better education, work, economic and social rights. It also applies to rehabilitation. In 19.1(a), accessibility refers not only to public buildings and sites, but also to private buildings. There should be accessibility everywhere in the public sector; the private sector should be encouraged to improve the standards of accessibility even if they don’t provide services to the public. The obligation in 19.2(h) should be linked with Article 4 because education about accessibility will create change not just today, but for decades.

Thailand proposed preserving the entire content of the chapeau and supported the constructive proposals of Israel. It suggested replacing “Encourage” with “To require” in 19.2(d). It proposed inserting 19.2(e), after “production” the words “, including localization,” and appending to 19.2(f) the words “following, if appropriate with internationally recognized accessibility standards and guidelines.” Although it agreed that the concepts put forth in 19.2(e) and (f) could overlap with Articles 13 and 20, and while it supported consolidation of the Articles, it desired the concept of accessibility be preserved.

New Zealand stated Article 4.2 could be revised to incorporate overlapping ideas expressed in 19.2(g), and favored 4.1 being revised to absorb concepts in 19.2(e) and (f). It recommended that if “universal design” appears in the final text more once it should be defined in a definitions article. If it appears only in Article 4, the definition should appear there. Training is mentioned in 19.2(h) and throughout the Convention, and provisions for training should be consolidated in one article. It expressed concern about diluting this article by deleting and relocating provisions and stated that the Committee should avoid the loss of practical ideas which could help implement the Article's more general ideas. Deleting details from 19.1 and 19.2(a) and (b) could dilute their meaning. Details may become obsolete, but details serve as a guide for States to translate the conceptual into the practical. In the chapeau of 19.1, New Zealand proposed adding “to amenities inside buildings and the communications environment” after “built environment.” By “communication environment” it means signage and audio loops. In 19.1(a) it proposed to add “infrastructure” after “roads.”

Japan stated that the government can encourage or give advice to private companies on the improvement of the environment for PWD, but cannot compel them.
In the chapeaus of 19.1 and 19.2 it proposed replacing “appropriate” with “progressive” and replacing “built” with “physical”. In 19.1(a), it recommended commencing the subparagraph with “Promotion of” and replacing “public buildings” with “buildings for public use”. In 19.2(b) it suggested replacing “live assistance and intermediaries” with “assistance”. In 19.2(e), it recommended replacing “Undertake and promote” with “Promote, and where appropriate, undertake.”

Mexico stated that it submitted its proposals to the Secretariat. Access should include all PWD. It focused on footnote 76, progressive application, and stated that dissemination, investigation, and promotion of technologies and means of support should be low cost and widespread. Accessible transportation is vital element to achieve other matters. Mexico stated that PWD should be evacuated safely in emergency situations. Accessibility should be considered not only for construction but also for the renovation of public buildings, e.g., schools, housing, medical establishments and public property work spaces as well as walkways, sporting establishments, parks, an other public buildings, both inside and outside. PWD should be active participants as well as spectators. Mexico offered some suggestions to improve correlation between the English and Spanish texts.

Australia proposed in the chapeau of 19.1 inserting “and progressive” after “appropriate"; inserting “remove barriers in all areas including the built environment, goods, services - including transportation, information and communications - facilities, information technology, electronic commerce -including banking - equipment, aids and appliances” after “measures to”; and deleting the last sentence of the chapeau. With the revised chapeau, 19.1(a) and (b) become redundant and should be deleted. In the chapeau of 19.2, “and progressive” should be added after "appropriate," and “inter alia:” should be appended at the end, 19.2 is too prescriptive as it stands.

Uruguay believes that developing countries need technical assistance. It proposed a bis which reads without editing: “States Parties will facilitate access to the necessary means so that PWDs can ensure integration. To that end, they will establish appropriate mechanisms which will allow aids, prostheses, technical assistants, specific technology, and in general to be imported without taxes for individuals with disabilities or for institutions which provide services to those individuals.”

Guatemala supported Mexico and adds to 19.1(b), after “public buildings,” the words “and private buildings for public use.”

Lebanon proposed adding to 19.1, “all kinds of disabilities” to make clear this Article applies to all PWD. It suggested deleting “that provide public facilities and services” from 19.2(d). In 19.1(a), after “publicly owned workplaces,” should be added “and private entities that provide public facilities or services addressed to the public” so that there is no confusion between public facilities and official facilities. It agreed with Kuwait regarding 19.1(c) and 19.2(b)(i) and (ii), except it would delete “other forms of” and add after “readers,” the words “and sign language interpreters” in 19.2(b)(i).

Vietnam proposed, in the chapeau, rewriting "to ensure accessibility for PWD" to read instead “in accordance with available resources to ensure the best accessibility for PWD.” In 19.1(b), it proposed deleting “and remodeling.”

India agreed with Japan that “progressive” is better than “appropriate” in 19.1. It proposed changing "built environment" to “physical environment” in 19.1. Because the list in 19.2(a) may be limiting, it supports adding the following language: “the inclusion of principles of universal design in the construction and renovation of all indoor and outdoor physical environment.” In 19.2(c), it supports including elements of 19.2(d) at the end by adding the words “as also for private facilities intended for full or partial public usage,” and then deleting 19.2(d). 19.2(e) is the same as 20(c) and therefore should be moved; 19.2(f) should be moved to general obligations.

Argentina supported Guatemala's proposed changes to 19.1(a), and recommended appending it with “including building installation and services that is property or construction for public use.”

Serbia Montenegro supported Mexico’s replacement of “appropriate” to “progressive” and it prefers “physical environment” instead of “built environment” in 19.1. In 19.1(a) and 19.2(a) and (b), it proposed changing “public buildings and facilities” in Mexico’s amendments to “buildings and public use.” It suggested strengthening 19.2(g) as Israel proposed. It also supported the EU in moving Article 19 up nearer to the front because of its importance.

Thailand stated that progressive realization should be clear in general obligations, but not in this article because it is redundant. Information technology should be changed to “information communication technology” so it adheres to generally accepted language.

NHRI supported the retention of this article because it is fundamental in ensuring PWD can participate in society. In 19.1(a), it proposed replacing “public” with “all,” deleting “for public use,” placing “roads” after “including,” and deleting “publicly owned” because private entities should not be exempt from access requirements. This Article should encourage States to develop their own access standards. In 19.2(c), it proposed deletion of the word “public” and at the end, add “and infrastructure.” These changes make 19.2(d) redundant and therefore it should be deleted. References to “universal design” should be deleted, unless this is defined. Absent a definition this concept may be interpreted as endorsing the least access. This Article should cover the acceptance of sign as a language.

WFD supported 19.2(b) proposals by Kuwait, Mexico, and NHRI. It is unsure if it agrees to move parts to Article 15. The point of Article 19 is to integrate PWD as equal parts of society.

PWD Australia/NACLC/Australian Federation of Disability believes Article 19 is too narrow to remove all barriers. It supported the Australian changes to 19.1. If Article 19 was generally framed and not prescriptive, encouraging international cooperation, it may achieve more. It is too focused to the “public” and “built” environment; obligations for access should apply to State and non-State actors. Private residential accommodations must be made accessible as this impacts PWD’s isolation, and they need to spend money to modify structures. The Bangkok draft mandating national access standards should be included. “Progressive” measures should replace “appropriate” measures.

RI / DPI / European Disability Forum / II / WFD / LSN / WBU/ World Union for Progressive Judaism believe that access opens “gateways into the life world”. It should tackle barriers built to exclude and ensure all new buildings are built for access. It supports Kuwait’s proposal for 19.2(c), but prefers the word “enact,” not “promulgate” to make clear the standards have the force of law. “Universal design” may be interpreted with too much flexibility and therefore they support alternative wording. All new forms of communication and transportation should be accessible from the beginning because it is cost effective. Progressive achievement of access means retrofitting over time, but starting today. The private sector needs to be strengthened. All key services need access, especially basic living needs and equal citizenship rights, physician services, community services and cultural sites. Like Kuwait, it supports dividing 19.2(b) into two sections. It supports referring to reasonable accommodation because inaccessibility is not an excuse to not deliver services to PWD. It also supports information, communication and technologies needs its own paragraph.

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