Disability Rights Defenders Newsletter July 2020

In this newsletter we collected important news and resources for you and others with an interest in disability rights. We share court cases and information about funding and training opportunities. Of course, there are also facts and news about disability inclusive responses in the current pandemic.

  1. Court Cases
  2. Participate and get active
  3. Funding and training opportunities
  4. Resources
  5. COVID-19
  6. Rewatch Webinars
  7. Employment and disability
  8. News from around the world

1. Court Cases

L.R vs North Macedonia: representing a child (with disabilities) before the ECHR
"For NGOs intent on taking cases to the European Court of Human Rights on behalf of vulnerable persons, L.R. v. North Macedonia makes for interesting reading. The Court clarified its jurisprudence on the standing of NGOs to submit applications on behalf of certain persons without express authorization. It also dealt with the state’s obligation to prevent and investigate claims of ill-treatment of patients in health institutions."Read the full article here and the analysis in the Strasbourg Observer here. The Court Case Judgment is available here.

Access to justice case in England
“Esther Leighton took on justice ministers in the high court over the ruinous costs disabled people can face when they take disability discrimination cases. [...] Leighton, who is represented by legal firm Deighton Pierce Glynn (DPG), is hoping her legal challenge will extend a system called Qualified One Way Cost Shifting (QOCS), which DPG says works “very effectively” for personal injury claims, so that it can also cover Equality Act cases. This would allow disabled people and others to challenge discrimination more easily by reducing the financial risk and increasing access to legal representation. [...]”. Read the full article here.

ECHR to rule on making all polling stations accessible in Europe
In 2015, two disabled Slovenian people who use wheelchairs asked the government to make all voting places accessible in all future elections. These requests were denied. Following the denial of their requests, they filed applications with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) claiming that they were discriminated against. In January this year, the ECHR has admitted an application by two disabled persons who are suing Slovenia over a lack of voting accessibility. For the same reason, an association representing persons with disabilities claims EUR 54 million in damages from the state. Read the full article here.

2. Participate and get active

Call for contribution: OHCHR report on participation of persons with disabilities in sports
The OHCHR Disability Team is calling for inputs for the development of the OHCHR report on the participation of persons with disabilities in physical activity and sports under article 30 of the CRPD. Deadline: 1st of August. Here you find the call for contributions and the related questionnaire to guide your inputs in English, Spanish, French and Russian.

ENIL: Independent Living Survey
The European Network on Independent Living is launching its first Independent Living Survey, with the aim of getting a better picture of access to Independent Living in Europe. Responses will be analysed and published in December 2020. The Independent Living Survey should be completed by disabled people directly or by DPOs or NGOs that are familiar with access to Independent Living and the provision of Personal Assistance (PA),  and work in close consultation with PA users. Read more about it here and complete the survey by 31st July here.

3. Funding and training opportunities

Disability Rights Fund: 2020 Round 2 Request for Proposals Press Release
Today, the Disability Rights Fund (DRF) and Disability Rights Advocacy Fund (DRAF) open Round 2 Request for Proposals (RFP) for Disabled Persons’ Organizations (DPOs[1]) in Rwanda and 14 Pacific Island Countries (Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu), as well as for current grantees and selected LOI applicants in Haiti and Uganda. Read more here.

NUI Galway: LL.M in International Comparative Disability Law and Policy
The LLM in International and Comparative Disability Law and Policy is unique in the world as an innovative and internationally focused LLM dealing with the process of law reform in the field of disability. The programme delivers a solid grounding for future practitioners, policymakers and academics in the field of disability reform. The course is primarily online for 2020/2021. Read more about it here.

Course: the CRPD from a Survivor of Psychiatry Perspective
Many survivors, activists, would-be activists and allies know about the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) as a human rights treaty that requires the abolition of forced psychiatry.  This course will help them to understand the technical details of the CRPD to make these arguments. This course is for anyone who is interested in learning about the CRPD from a survivor of psychiatry perspective. Read more about the course here.

4. Ressources

Survey Report on Remedies
DRD conducted a survey on remedies in cooperation with the project Article 19 as a tool. The survey was carried out to gain an overview of legal remedies, to see where  law systems in general are lacking and which remedies can be transferred from one country to another for better effectiveness in using the law as a tool for social change and individual justice. The findings are now published in a short report. Please feel free to share the report with your network.

EDF 2020 European Human Rights Report
EDF published their European Human Rights Report: Poverty and Social Exclusion of Persons with Disabilities. It highlights the EU countries’ failure at reducing poverty faced by persons with disabilities.  It shows how persons with disabilities in all EU countries are more likely to be poor and unemployed than persons without disabilities. The report presents actions that the EU, it's Member States and other European Countries should take to improve the situation. Read and download the report here.

EDF Toolkit: How can Disability Organisations support inclusion of refugees and migrants with disabilities
EDF launched a toolkit on inclusion of refugees and migrants with disabilities which provides information and practical guidance on this topic to organisations of persons with disabilities.The toolkit includes: A brief background about the situation of refugees and migrants, good practices and ideas on how to include the voices of refugees and migrants with disabilities in DPOs work, and recommendations to political decision-makers. One of the good examples documented in the toolkit is the Disabled Refugees Welcome (DRW) project, a project of the Independent Living Institute. Read and download the toolkit here

EFRIS: database on international and European human rights law
The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights updated its database. The European Union Fundamental Rights Information System EFRIS is a Human Rights Gateway, bringing together data and information from existing human rights databases, and enables viewing and analysis of relevant assessments of fundamental rights in the EU. The new version allows you to search by EU Charter Articles. Not only that, it now also includes data from the European Court of Human Rights, the European Committee of Social Rights and the Council of Europe’s anti-corruption body, GRECO. Try out the database here.

Booklet in German: Are arbitrations a successful tool to fight against disability discrimination?
The Austrian Disability Equality Act has its 15th anniversary this year. An essential tool of this Act is arbitration. The booklet explains how arbitration works in practice and who can apply for it in Austria. It answers a.o. the following questions: What factors determine the use of the arbitration tool? What factors influence success in arbitration? Is the arbitration tool suitable in practice to remove barriers? Read more about it (in German) here.

Documentary  INterDEPENDENCE
The Documentary INterDEPENDENCE looks at the daily lives of disabled people living in the US, on their independence and interdependence and dependence on others. Read more about the documentary here and watch the documentary for free here.

5. COVID-19

COVID-19 Disability Rights Monitor (DRM) calls for an emergency response to the catastrophic abuse of the human rights of persons with disabilities in institutions 
On 20 April 2020, the COVID-19 Disability Rights Monitor (DRM) launched an international survey to monitor state measures concerning persons with disabilities amid the pandemic. The initial analysis of the ongoing global survey has revealed grave and systemic violations of fundamental freedoms and human rights of persons with disabilities detained in large- and small-scale institutions, which have become the epicenter of COVID-19 infections and deaths. Read more about the survey here. The COVID-19 Disability Rights Monitor (DRM) survey is available online in 24 languages here.

COVID-19 Case Tracker: Documenting the impact of COVID-19 on people with disabilities in congregate settings in the USA
The Autistic Self Advocacy Network has created an online tool that compiles data from local governments and media reports. The figures account for individuals with disabilities living in institutions like nursing homes, psychiatric hospitals, group homes and other facilities. Read more about the case tracker here.

UN's policy brief: A Disability-Inclusive Response to COVID-19
The UN published a Policy Brief that highlights the impact of COVID19 on persons with disabilities and in doing so, outlines key actions and recommendations to make the response and recovery inclusive of persons with disabilities. More information can be found here. Read the policy brief here.

Emergency Deinstitutionalisation: A Joint Call to Act Now!
On 11 June, ENIL, Validity Foundation and Disability Rights International organised a webinar “Safety through Inclusion: the Case for Emergency Deinstitutionalisation*”. The webinar was a call to action to ensure that disabled people can leave institutions as a matter of priority, in order to prevent further deaths from COVID-19 and to accelerate access to living independently and being included in the community. With participation of the Chair of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD Committee), Mr. Danlami Basharu, and the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Ms. Catalina Devandas, “emergency deinstitutionalisation” is now firmly on the agenda and will be followed up with concrete actions in the coming months. Read more here

Study: COVID-19 outcomes among people with intellectual and developmental disability living in residential group homes in New York State
"People with developmental disabilities who live in group homes are significantly more likely than others to contract the coronavirus and die from it, a new study finds. Researchers looked at the experiences of 20,431 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities residing in group homes in New York state as compared to those of the state’s general population from the start of the pandemic through May 28. Among group home residents, there were 7,841 cases of diagnosed COVID-19 per 100,000 people. That figure was substantially lower — 1,910 per 100,000 — for the state as a whole." Read the article in Disabililty Scoope. Read the research paper itself that was published in Disability and Health Journal. 

Study on how the corona virus is impacting people with developmental disabilities
"Despite possibly higher risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19 among people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), there has been limited reporting of COVID-19 trends for this population. The objective of the research is to compare COVID-19 trends among people with and without IDD, overall and stratified by age. Though of concern for all individuals, COVID-19 appears to present a greater risk to people with IDD, especially at younger ages." Here you can read and download the study "Intellectual and developmental disability and COVID-19 case-fatality trends: TriNetX analysis".

6. Rewatch webinars

Report and Recording of the DRD webinar on ‘Legal Clinics’
In cooperation with the European Network on Independent Living (ENIL), DRD held a webinar on ‘Legal Clinics - a tool to promote disability rights’ on the 26th of May 2020. A written summary of the webinar is now available on the ILI website. Read the report here. Watch the webinar on YouTube with subtitles here. Please share the links with your colleagues, friends and other interested persons.

Rewatch: Inclusion International Webinar series on Covid19 in July
Inclusion International is holding a series of webinars on the situation of disabled people during the Covid 19 pandemic. Topics are: Including People with High Support Needs in COVID-19 Response, Supporting Families and People with Intellectual Disabilities to Protect their Mental Health during the Pandemic, LISTEN, INCLUDE, RESPECT: How Meaningful Participation could have eased the Impact of the Pandemic, Parenting with Intellectual Disabilities during the Pandemic. You can rewatch the webinars here.

Rewatch EDF webinars
The European Disability Forum is holding webinars on a regular basis. All webinars are recorded, have subtitles, and are available in English, and International Sign Language. The webinars cover themes such as accessibility, Covid19, disability assessment and EU institutions. See the list of webinars and rewatch them here.

7. Employment and Disability

Mental Health and Employment: a toolkit for employers
This toolkit has been designed to help employers support employees with mental health conditions to remain in employment. Read the toolkit here.

Inclusive Job Design
Brigitte Van Lierop and Frans Nijhuis developed an employer-orientated method to create permanent jobs for people with disabilities. The approach supports sustainable job creation and can be combined with functions that are suitable for people with disabilities who are outside of the labour market. Read the paper here.

8. News from around the world

Interview with Disability Rights Defenders
We got interviewed and are happy to share now this first article about Disability Rights Defenders! Assistanskoll is a website providing news, facts and advice for personal assistance users, their families and personal assistants in Sweden. Annemarie, intern at DRD, and I were Interviewed by Erik Tillander from Assistanskoll. Read the (Swedish) article here

EU Structural Funds Used to Segregate Disabled People in Austria
ENIL published a Press Release on the segregationist usage of EU funds. 7.5 million Euros of the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) have been used in Upper Austria to build institutions and sheltered employment facilities for disabled people. Independent Living Austria and ENIL challenged this by submitting a formal complaint to the European Commission, against the State of Upper Austria. Read more here in English and German

Best Practice Example from Sweden: Disabled Refugees Welcome (DRW)
DRW is a 3-year project run by Independent Living Institute and financed by the Swedish State Inheritance Fund (Arvsfonden). The purpose of the project is to create new methods for improved reception and inclusion policies for disabled newcomers. The story of Sisai Game gives an impression of the work of DRW. Now available with English subtitles on youtube. Watch the video here.

Disability Rights Advocacy Center provides capacity training for DPOs
Disability Rights Advocacy Center (DRAC) on 9th and 10th of July, 2020 organized a two day training of Disabled People’s Organizations (DPO) on Human Rights Laws in Nigeria. The activity is part of DRAC’s policy-to-practice project (P2P) supported by the ROLAC program of the British Council and European Union to improve access to justice of women and girls with disabilities. Read the article here.