Government Action on Disability Policy
A Global Survey
Part II - Government Replies as Country Profiles

Belgium

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© Dimitris Michailakis 1997

Ministry of Social Affairs (15 June 1996)
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Communauté Germanophone

General policy

The officially recognized disability policy in Belgium (the German speaking region) is expressed in law, in guidelines adopted by the Government and in guidelines adopted by a national disability council. The emphasis in this policy - in descending scale - is on: individual support, rehabilitation, prevention, accessibility measures, anti-discrimination law.

Since the adoption of the Rules the Government has taken action in order to convey the message of full participation.

Legislation

The rights of persons with disabilities are protected by special and general legislation. The judicial mechanism adopted to protect their rights is due process (legal remedy through the courts). Non-judicial mechanisms include 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, right to privacy, property rights. The following benefits are guaranteed by law to persons with disabilities: health and medical care, training, rehabilitation and counselling, financial security, employment, independent living, participation in decisions affecting themselves.

New legislation on disability has been enacted since the adoption of the Rules.

Accessibility

There are laws and regulations requiring that public places, the outdoor environment, are made accessible. Accessibility in the build environment is observed by a regional authority and local Governments. The following measures have been promoted to facilitate accessibility in the build 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 incentives/support for accessibility measures when building or renovating housing, installing special lighting and using contrast colours for visually impaired, and the providing of specially adapted motor vehicles. There is special transport for persons with disabilities which is available for medical treatment, education, work and recreational purpose. The following are the most difficult obstacles when planning to build accessible environments: attitudinal factors, economic/budgetary factors, technical factors and lack of enforcement mechanisms. 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. There are no Government measures for encouraging media to make their services accessible for persons with disabilities but there are Government measures to make other forms of public information services available. The following services are provided in order to facilitate information and communication: literature in Braille/tape, news magazines on tape/Braille, sign language interpretation being available for any purpose.


Organizations of persons with disabilities

There is no national umbrella organization in which all organizations of persons with disabilities are represented. 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 always consulted when laws and regulations with a disability aspect are being prepared. Consultations take place at the regional level. The Government financially supports existing or new organizations. Persons with disabilities participate to a very limited extent in Government, legislature, judicial authorities and political parties and to some extent in NGOs. The organizations have the role 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, and provide for services.

Co-ordination of work

There is a co-ordinating committee or a similar body. The committee includes representatives of the Ministries of Finance, of Health and Social Affairs, of Housing, of organizations of persons with disabilities, of other NGOs, and of the private sector. The Government expects the committee to participate in policy development and to perform other tasks. 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, improved integration of responsibility, better dialogue in the disability field, more effective use of resources, and improved promotion of public awareness.

The adoption of the Standard Rules has led to a rethinking of the approach to disability policy.


Communautaire Francaise

General policy

There is an officially recognized disability policy in Belgium (the French speaking region) expressed in guidelines adopted by the Government. The emphasis in this policy - in descending scale - is on: individual support, rehabilitation, anti-discrimination law, accessibility measures, prevention.

Since the adoption of the Rules the Government has taken action in order to convey the message of full participation.

Legislation

The rights of persons with disabilities are protected by a combination of special and general legislation. The judicial mechanisms adopted to protect their rights is due process (legal remedy through the courts).

The 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, right to privacy, property rights. The following benefits are guaranteed by law to persons with disabilities: health and medical care, training, rehabilitation and counselling, financial security, employment, independent living, participation in decisions affecting themselves.

New legislation concerning disability has been enacted since the adoption of the Rules.

Accessibility

There are laws and regulations to ensure accessibility of the build environment establishing national design standards requiring that public places, and the outdoor environment are made accessible. Accessibility in the build environment is observed by a regional authority and local Governments. The following measures have been promoted to facilitate accessibility in the build 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 incentives/support for accessibility measures when building or renovating housing, installing special lighting and using contrast colours for visually impaired, and providing for specially adapted motor vehicles. Special transport is available for medical treatment, education, work and recreational purpose. The following are the most difficult obstacles when planning to build accessible environments: economic/budgetary factors, lack of legislation and regulations, lack of planning, lack of information, and lack of co-operation from other organizations/institutions. There is a disability awareness component incorporated in the training of planners, architects and construction engineers.

Sign language for deaf people has not yet been officially recognized as the official language of deaf people. There are no Government measures for encouraging media and other forms of public information to make their services available for persons with disabilities. 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, sign language interpretation being available for any purpose.

Organizations of persons with disabilities

There is no national umbrella organization in which all organizations of persons with disabilities are represented. There are legal provisions mandating the representatives of persons with disabilities to participate in policy-making and to work with Governmental institutions. Organizations are often consulted when laws and regulations with a disability aspect are being prepared. Consultations take place at the regional level. The Government gives financial and organizational/logistic support to existing or new organizations. Persons with disabilities participate to a very limited extent in Government, legislature, judicial authorities, to some extent in political parties and to a great extent in NGOs. The organizations have the role to advocate rights and improve services, mobilize persons with disabilities, identify needs and priorities, participate in the planning, implementation and evaluation of services and measures, contribute to public awareness, provide services and promote/organize income generating activities.

Co-ordination of work

There is no co-ordinating committee or similar body.

The adoption of the Standard Rules has led to a rethinking of the approach to disability policy.


Region Wallonne

General policy

The officially recognized disability policy in Belgium (Wallonne region) is expressed in law. The emphasis in this policy - in descending scale - is on: anti-discrimination law, accessibility measures, individual support, rehabilitation, prevention.

Since the adoption of the Rules the Government has taken action in order to convey the message of full participation.

Legislation

The rights of persons with disabilities are protected by a combination of special and general legislation. The judicial mechanisms adopted to protect the rights of persons with disabilities is due process (legal remedy through the courts). There are several non-judicial mechanisms for that purpose.

The 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, right to privacy, property rights. The following benefits are guaranteed by law to persons with disabilities: health and medical care, training, rehabilitation and counselling, financial security, employment, independent living, participation in decisions affecting themselves.

New legislation concerning disability has been enacted since the adoption of the Rules.

Accessibility

There are laws and regulations requiring that public places are made accessible. Accessibility in the build environment is observed by a regional authority and local Governments. The following measures have been promoted to facilitate accessibility in the build environment: levelling off pavements, marking parking areas, installing lifts and accessible toilets, ensuring access to public places, improving accessibility in housing, providing support for accessibility measures when building or renovating housing, and providing for specially adapted motor vehicles. Special transport is available for medical treatment, education, work and recreational purpose. The most difficult obstacles when planning to build accessible environments are economic/budgetary factors, lack of legislation and regulations, lack of planning, lack of information, lack of co-operation from organizations/institutions. There is a disability awareness component incorporated in the training of planners, architects and construction engineers.

Sign language for deaf people has no officially recognized status. There are Government measures for encouraging media to make their services available but there are no Government measures to make other forms of public information services available. The following services are provided in order to facilitate information and communication: literature in Braille/tape, news magazines on tape/Braille, sign language interpretation being available for any purpose.

Organizations of persons with disabilities

There is no 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 are always consulted when laws and regulations with a disability aspect are being prepared. Consultations take place at the regional level. The Government gives financial and organizational/logistic support to existing or new organizations. Persons with disabilities participate to a very limited extent in legislature, judicial authorities and political parties and to a great extent in Government and NGOs. The organizations have the role 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, contribute to public awareness, provide services and promote/organize income generating activities.

Co-ordination of work

There is a co-ordinating committee or similar body. The committee includes representatives of the Ministries of Finance, of Health and Social Affairs, of organizations of persons with disabilities, and of the private sector. The Government expects the committee to participate in policy development and to perform other tasks. The establishment of the committee has had the following effects: improved co-ordination of measures/programmes etc. in the disability field, improved legislation, improved integration of responsibility, better dialogue in the disability field, and more accurate planning.

The adoption of the Standard Rules has led to a rethinking of the approach to disability policy.



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