Government Action on Disability Policy
A Global Survey
Part II - Government Replies as Country Profiles
Download 'Government Reports on the UN Standard Rules' as a PDF file (440 KB)
© Dimitris Michailakis 1997
Transmitted by Permanent Mission to the United Nations, New York (3 April 1996)
Compare with the following Country Report(s): WFD
The officially recognized disability policy in Austria is expressed in guidelines adopted by the Government. Disability policy equally emphasizes: prevention, rehabilitation, individual support, accessibility measures and a less strong anti-discrimination.
Since the adoption of the Rules, the Government has not done anything in order to convey the message of full participation.
The rights of persons with disabilities are protected by a combination of special legislation and general legislation. The judicial mechanism available to protect the rights of persons with disabilities is a recourse procedure by a special agency dealing with anti-discrimination issues. Non-judicial bodies include a patient's attorney for people with mental disabilities being admitted in a hospital or psychiatric department.
The general legislation applies to persons with different disabilities with respect to: education, employment, political rights. Persons with disabilities are by law guaranteed only the benefit of health and medical care (approximately 99% of the population are included in the statutory health insurance).
Since the adoption of the Rules the "Long Term Care Allowance Act" has been enacted.
There are recommendations (not compulsory) for ensuring accessibility of the build environment establishing national design standards requiring that: public places, the outdoor environment, and housing are made accessible. Accessibility in the build environment is observed by local Governments. The following measures have been promoted by the Government to facilitate accessibility in the build environment: levelling off pavements, marking parking areas, installing automatic doors, lifts, accessible toilets, ensuring access to public places, improving accessibility in housing, providing financial incentives for accessibility measures when building and renovating housing and/or for the costs of adapting private buildings to the needs of persons with disabilities, provision of specially adapted motor vehicles and installing traffic lights with acoustic signals for blind persons. Special transport arrangements for persons with disabilities include: 1. Fare reduction for special groups of disabled persons. 2. Provincial Governments offer social services including transport services. Special transport is available for: medical treatment, education, work, recreational purpose. The most difficult obstacles when planning to build accessible environments are: attitudinal factors, economic/budgetary factors, lack of legislation and regulations. There is a disability awareness component incorporated in the training of planners, architects and construction engineers.
Sign language for deaf people is recognized as the main means of communication between deaf persons and others. There are Government measures to encourage media and other forms of public information for making their services accessible to persons with disabilities. The following are examples: telephone amplifier for hearing impaired persons; no telephone charge for deaf persons with a specific telephone set; telephone boxes adapted for wheelchair users. The following services are provided in order to facilitate information and communication between persons with disabilities and other persons: literature in Braille/tape, news magazines on tape/Braille.
Organizations of persons with disabilities
Nearly all organizations are represented in the 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 are always consulted when laws and regulations with a disability aspect are being prepared. Consultations take place at the national and regional level. The Government supports existing and new organizations financially. Persons with disabilities to some extent participate in Government, legislature, judiciary, political parties, NGO's. The organizations in Austria have a role to: advocate rights and improved services, mobilize persons with disabilities, identify needs and priorities.
Co-ordination of work
The national co-ordinating committee is reporting to the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. The committee includes representatives of the Ministries of: Finance, Health, Labour and Social Affairs, Family, as well as of organizations of persons with disabilities, of employers' and employees' associations, of the Central association of Austrian Insurance Institutions, and of members of the political parties. The Government expects the committee to participate in policy development and to perform other tasks such as expressing opinions and recommendations on all important matters concerning disabled persons. The establishment of the co-ordinating committee has had the following effects: improved co-ordination of measures/programmes etc., in the disability field, improved legislation, better dialogue in the disability field, and improved promotion of public awareness.
The principles of the Austrian national disability policy are compatible with the principles in the Standard Rules.