© Independent Living Institute
Independent Living Institute,
Storforsplan 36, 10 tr
123 47 Farsta
Tel. 08-506 22 179
Government Implementation of
the Standard Rules
As Seen By Member Organizations of
Rehabilitation International - RI
Download 'RI Reports on the UN Standard Rules' as a PDF file (131 KB)
© Dimitris Michailakis 1997
The officially recognized disability policy in Finland is, according to the Rehabilitation Foundation, expressed in law and in guidelines adopted by a National Disability Council. According to the Government, the disability policy is also expressed in policy adopted by political parties and by NGOs. The emphasis in this policy - in descending scale - is on individual support, rehabilitation, accessibility measures, anti-discrimination law and prevention.
Since the adoption of the Standard Rules, the government has not done anything to initiate or support information campaigns, conveying the message of full participation. The Government states that the National Council on Disability, in co-operation with the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, has published an easy reader version of the Standard Rules in Finnish and Swedish.
The rights of persons with disabilities are protected by general legislation, applicable to all citizens. According to the Government, the rights of disabled people are protected by a combination of special legislation and general legislation. The judicial mechanism adopted to protect the rights of persons with disabilities is due process (legal remedy through courts), while administrative and other non-judicial bodies include an Ombudsman and a governmental body (administrative).
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 following benefits are guaranteed by law to persons with disabilities: health and medical care, training, rehabilitation and counselling and financial security. According to the Government, even the benefits of independent living and of participation in decisions affecting themselves are guaranteed by law.
No new legislation concerning disability has been enacted, since the adoption of the Standard Rules. The Government states that, since the adoption of the Rules, the Constitution has been amended (1995). The clause on equality was included in the Constitution Act (section 5 ß2) and the clause (section 14 ß3) according to persons using sign language and persons in need of interpretation and translation services because of disability, will be protected by law.
There are laws and regulations to ensure accessibility of the built environment requiring that public places, the outdoor environment and land, sea and air transportation are made accessible. Accessibility in the built environment is observed by local governments. The following measures have been promoted by the government in order to facilitate accessibility in the built environment: levelling off pavements, marking parking areas, installing automatic doors, lifts and accessible toilets, ensuring access to public places, improving accessibility in housing, providing financial support for the costs of adapting private buildings to the needs of persons with disabilities and providing specially adapted motor vehicles. According to the Government, even special lighting and contrast colours for visually impaired are provided. The special transport arrangements include low floor buses. This special transport is available for medical treatment, education, work and for recreational purpose. The most difficult obstacles, when planning to build accessible environments, are attitudinal factors, lack of knowledge, research and information, lack of user participation and lack of enforcement mechanism. A disability awareness component is not incorporated in the training of planners, architects and construction engineers. According to the Government, there is a disability awareness component incorporated in the training of planners, architects and construction engineers, but the issue, whether this is taken into account, depends on the professors at the Architectural Universities.
Sign language for deaf people is recognized as the official language of deaf people and is used as the first language in education of deaf people. There are government measures to encourage media (The Broadcasting Corporation) to make their services accessible to persons with disabilities. The following measures are provided in order to facilitate information and communication between persons with disabilities and others: literature in Braille/tape and sign language interpretation being available for any purpose. A sign language news bulletin is also being provided on television. According to the Government, even easy readers for persons with mental disabilities are provided.
Organizations of persons with disabilities
There is a national umbrella organization in which practically all organizations are represented. 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 legal provisions mandating the representatives of persons with disabilities to participate in policy-making and to work with governmental institutions. Disability organizations are often consulted, when laws and regulations with a disability aspect are being prepared. Consultations occur at both the national, regional and local levels. The government financially supports the existing and new organizations of persons with disabilities. Persons with disabilities participate to a very limited extent in legislatures and judiciary, to some extent in government and political parties and to a great extent in NGOs. The role of disabled persons¥ organizations is to advocate rights and improved services, mobilize needs and priorities, contribute to public awareness and to provide services. According to the Government, organizations also participate in the planning, implementation and evaluation of services and measures concerning disabled persons.
Co-ordination of work
The national co-ordinating committee is reporting to the Ministry of Health and Social Security. The committee includes representatives of the Ministries of Health and Social Affairs, of Employment, of Transport, of Housing, of Education, of Culture and of Planning, and of other NGOs. The co-ordinating committee is expected to participate in the planning and policy development. The establishment of the co-ordinating committee has had the following effects: improved co-ordination of measures/programmes in the disability field, improved legislation, a better dialogue in the disability field, more accurate planning and improved promotion of public awareness.
The adoption of the Standard Rules has not yet led to a rethinking of the approach to disability policy.
Contents of the RI Report | Compare with the following Country Report(s): the Finnish Government, ILSMH (Förbundet de Utvecklingsstördas Väl), ILSMH (Kehitysvammaisten Tukiliitto r.y.), WBU