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Government Implementation of the Standard Rules
As Seen By Member Organizations of
Disabled Peoples' International - DPI

Portugal


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© Dimitris Michailakis 1997

Associacao Portuguesa de Deficientes, Portugal
Compare with the following Country Report(s): the Portuguese Government, ILSMH


General policy

The officially recognized disability policy is expressed in law. According to the Government, the officially recognized disability policy is also expressed in guidelines adopted by the government, in guidelines adopted by the National Secretariat for Rehabilitation, in policy adopted by political parties and in policy adopted by NGO's. The Constitution has an Article concerning the rights of persons with disabilities. The emphasis in this policy is on prevention, accessibility measures, rehabilitation and individual support. There is no emphasis on anti-discrimination law. The Government, however, states that the main emphasis in disability policy lies on anti-discrimination. The Portuguese Health service in the last few years, has developed a policy on prevention. According to opinion of the organization, this policy is independent of the rehabilitation policy, which in fact is non-existing. There is only one Rehabilitation Centre in Portugal.

The government has not done anything to convey the message of full participation. According to the Government, the following actions have been taken in order to convey the message of full participation: the National Secretariat for Rehabilitation has discussed the issue of full participation and has printed a Portugese version of the Standard Rules, which has been disseminated. In addition, TV and RADIO campaigns stressed the message, included in the Standard Rules.

Legislation

The rights of persons with disabilities are protected by general legislation. According to the Government, the rights of disabled people are protected by a combination of special legislation and general legislation.

The following benefits are guaranteed by law to persons with disabilities: health and medical care and financial security. According to the Government, even the benefits of training, rehabilitation and counselling, employment, independent living and participation in decisions affecting themselves are guaranteed by law.

No new legislation concerning disability has been enacted, since the adoption of the Rules.


Accessibility

There are no rules to ensure accessibility of the built environment. According to the Government, there are guidelines to ensure accessibility in public buildings, the outdoor environment and means of public transportation. Accessibility is observed by a national authority and by local governments. Special transport arrangements are available for education and work. Special transport is not available for medical treatment or for recreational purpose. The organization states that there are only two accessible buses in Lisbon, serving only disabled persons' functioning, as a discriminatory service. According to the Government, special transport is also available for medical treatment and for recreational purpose. The most difficult obstacles, when planning to build accessible environments, are attitudinal factors, lack of legislation and regulations, lack of planning and design capacity and lack of knowledge research and information. The Government is adding some other obstacles too: economic/budgetary factors, geographical and climatic factors, lack of user participation and lack of co-operation from other organizations/institutions. There is no disability awareness component incorporated in the training of planners, architects and construction engineers.

Sign language for deaf people has no officially recognized status. It is not used as the first language in education of deaf people, nor recognized as the main means of communication between deaf persons and others. According to the Government, sign language is used as the main means of communication between deaf persons and others. There are no government measures to encourage media and other forms of public information to make their services accessible to persons with disabilities. The only service provided in order to facilitate information and communication between persons with disabilities and others is literature in Braille/tape. According to the Government, even other services are provided: news magazines on tape/Braille, easy readers for persons with mental disabilities and sign language interpretation being available for any purpose.


Organizations of persons with disabilities

There is a national umbrella organization. There are no legal provisions mandating the representatives of persons with disabilities to participate in policy making or to work with governmental institutions. According to the Government, there are such legal provisions. Disabled people are represented at the National Council of Rehabilitation. Organizations of persons with disabilities are sometimes consulted, when laws and regulations with a disability aspect are being prepared. According to the Government, organizations are often consulted. Consultations occur at the national level. The government gives financial support to existing or new organizations of persons with disabilities. According to the Government, even organizational/logistic and juridical and technical support is given to organizations. Persons with disabilities participate to a very limited extent in government, legislatures, judicial authorities, political parties but to a great extent in NGO's. The role of organizations of persons with disabilities is to advocate rights and improved services, mobilize persons with disabilities, identify needs and priorities, contribute to public awareness and provide services. According to the Government, organizations of disabled people even promote/organize income generating activities.


Co-ordination of work

The co-ordinating committee is reporting to the Ministry of Social Affairs. The committee includes representatives of many Ministries, of organizations of persons with disabilities, of other NGO's and from the private sector. The government expects the co-ordinating committee to participate in policy development but not to perform other tasks. According to the Government, the co-ordinating committee is expected also to perform other tasks. It is too early for assessment about the effects of the co-ordinating committee. According to the Government, the establishment of the co-ordinating committee has had the following effects: improved co-ordination of measures/programmes, improved legislation, improved integration of responsibility, a better dialogue in the disability field, more effective use of resources and improved promotion of public awareness.

The adoption of the Rules has not led to a rethinking of the approach to disability policy. The Government states that the adoption of the Rules has ideologically reinforced the general rehabilitation policy already enforced, and increased the national efforts towards the establishment of a national rehabilitation planning for the year 2000.


Contents of the DPI Report | Compare with the following Country Report(s): the Portuguese Government, ILSMH