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Government Implementation of the Standard Rules
As Seen By Member Organizations of
Inclusion International - ILSMH

Portugal


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© Dimitris Michailakis 1997

Federacao National Cooperativas Educacao Rehabilitacao Criancas Inadaptadas (Fenacerci), Portugal
Compare with the following Country Report(s): the Portuguese Government, DPI


General policy

The officially recognized disability policy is expressed in law, in guidelines adopted by the government, in guidelines adopted by a national disability council and in policy adopted by NGOs. According to the Government, disability policy is expressed also in policy adopted by political parties. The emphasis in this policy - in descending scale - is on rehabilitation, anti-discrimination law, accessibility measures, prevention and individual support.

Since the adoption of the Rules, the government has not done anything to convey the message of full participation. According to the Government, the following measures have been taken in order to convey the message of full participation: The national Secretariat has discussed the issue of full participation and printed a Portuguese version of the Standard Rules, and the media stressed the message included in the Rules.


Legislation

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

General legislation applies to persons with different disabilities with respect to education, employment, the right to marriage, the right to parenthood/family, political rights, access to court of law, the right to privacy and property rights. The Government, however, has attached a special note stating that, according to the Constitution, the mentally disabled persons, provided they are unable to fulfil their duties, are subject to special legal provisions, included in the general legislation concerning: marriage, parenthood, voting right and the right to be elected or to hold office in public authorities or even fulfil public functions as well as access to court-of-law, where they are entitled to be represented by their officially appointed representatives. Concerning the performance of a function before a Notariat Office, deaf and blind persons are considered unfit to serve as warrantors, interpreters, experts, translators, readers or witnesses. The following benefits are guaranteed by law to persons with disabilities: health and medical care, training, rehabilitation and counselling, employment, independent living and participation in decisions affecting themselves.

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


Accessibility

There are rules to ensure accessibility of the built environment requiring that public places and housing are made accessible. According to the Government, there are no standards which require that housing is made accessible but guidelines establishing that the outdoor environment and means of public transportation are made accessible. Accessibility in the built environment is observed by a national authority and by local governments. The following measures have been promoted in order to facilitate accessibility in the built environment: marking parking areas, installing lifts and accessible toilets, ensuring access to public places, improving accessibility in housing and providing of specially adapted motor vehicles. To these measures the Government adds levelling off pavements and using contrast colours and special lighting for visually impaired. There is special transport for persons with disabilities, being available for medical treatment, education and work. According to the Government, special transport is available also for recreational purpose. The most difficult obstacles, when planning to build accessible environments, are attitudinal factors, economic/budgetary factors, lack of knowledge, research and information, lack of user participation, lack of co-operation from other organizations/institutions and lack of enforcement mechanism. 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 but is used as the first language in education of deaf people and is recognized as the main means of communication between deaf persons and others. According to the Government, sign language is not used as the first language in education of deaf people. There are no government measures to encourage media and other forms of public information to make their services accessible to persons with disabilities. The following services are provided in order to facilitate information and communication between persons with disabilities and others: literature in Braille/tape, news magazines on tape/Braille and sign language interpretation, being available only for major events. According to the Government, sign language interpretation is available for any purpose, and easy readers for persons with mental disabilities are also provided.


Organizations of persons with disabilities

There is a national umbrella organization. There are legal provisions mandating the representatives of persons with disabilities to participate in policy-making and to work with governmental institutions. Organizations of persons with disabilities are sometimes consulted when laws and regulations with a disability aspect are being prepared. Consultations occur at the national level. The government gives financial and organizational/logistic support to organizations of persons with disabilities. Persons with disabilities participate to a very limited extent in government, legislatures, judicial authorities, political parties but to a great extent in NGOs. The role of organizations of persons with disabilities is to advocate rights and improved services, mobilize persons with disabilities, identify needs and priorities, participate in the planning, implementation and evaluation of services and measures concerning the lives of persons with disabilities, contribute to public awareness, provide services and promote/organize income generating activities.


Co-ordination of work

The national co-ordinating committee is reporting to the Ministerio da Solidariedade e Seguranca Social. The committee includes representatives of the Ministries of Health and Social Affairs, Employment, Education and of organizations of persons with disabilities. According to the Government, the co-ordinating committee includes also representatives from other NGOs, from the Confederation of Employers, from the National Association of Municipalities and from Trade Unions Confederations. The government expects the committee to participate in policy development and to perform other tasks, e.g. publications, studies, proposing legislation. It is too early for an assessment about the effects of the establishment of the co-ordinating committee. According to the Government, the establishment of the co-ordinating committee has led to 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. According to the Government, 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 ILSMH Report | Compare with the following Country Report(s): the Portuguese Government, DPI