Government Action on Disability Policy
A Global Survey
Part II - Government Replies as Country Profiles
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© Dimitris Michailakis 1997
Transmitted by Permanent Mission to the United Nations, New York (25 March 1996)
The officially recognized disability policy in Bolivia is expressed in law and in guidelines adopted by the Government. The emphasis is on prevention and rehabilitation.
Since the adoption of the rules the Government has not done anything to convey the message of full participation.
The rights of persons with disabilities are protected by special and general legislation.
The general legislation applies to persons with different disabilities with respect to education and employment, the right to marriage, the right to parenthood/family, political rights, access to court-of-law, right to privacy, property rights. The only benefit guaranteed by law to persons with disabilities is health and medical care.
The Disabled Persons Act has been enacted since the adoption of the Rules (15 December 1995).
There are no laws and regulations ensuring accessibility of the build environment. No entity is specifically responsible, but the Disabled Persons Act calls for the elimination of architectural barriers. The only measure promoted is the levelling off pavements, in three cities in central areas only. There is no special transport. The most difficult obstacle when planning to build accessible environments is the lack of knowledge, research and information. There is no disability awareness component incorporated in the training of planners, architects and construction engineers.
Sign language for deaf people is recognized as the official language of deaf people, used as the first language in education of deaf people and recognized as the main means of communication between deaf persons and others. There are no Government measures for encouraging media and other forms of public information to make their services accessible. The only service provided in order to facilitate information and communication between persons with disabilities and others is a small number of literature in Braille.
Organizations of persons with disabilities
There is a national umbrella organization (the Bolivian Confederation of Persons with Disabilities) where all the organizations of persons with disabilities are represented. There are provisions in the Disabled Persons Act (1995) 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, regional and local level. The Government gives organizational support for institution-building, training and other activities to existing or new organizations. Persons with disabilities participate to a very limited extent in Government, legislature, judicial authorities, political parties and NGOs. The disabled persons' organizations have the role to mobilize persons with disabilities and contribute to public awareness.
Co-ordination of work
There is a national co-ordinating committee reporting to the Ministry of Human Development. The committee includes representatives of the Ministry of Human Development, the National Secretariat of Health, the National Secretariat of Education, the Ministry of labour and Occupational Development, the Bolivian Confederation of Persons with Disabilities and of NGOs.
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