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
Ministry of Social Affairs (29 March 1996)
Compare with the following Country Report(s): DPI, RI, WBU
The officially recognized disability policy in Denmark is expressed in guidelines adopted by the Government, in guidelines adopted by the national disability council and in policy adopted by NGOs. The national disability policy equally emphasizes rehabilitation, individual support and accessibility measures.
The following actions have been taken by the Government conveying the message of full participation: The Minister of Social Affairs held a press meeting in December 1994. The national council on disability has distributed material concerning the Standard Rules. An interministerial committee has been appointed in order to work out a plan of action concerning accessibility and awareness raising.
The rights of persons with disabilities are protected by a combination of special and general legislation. The judicial mechanism adopted to protect their rights is due process (legal remedy through courts). Administrative and other non-judicial bodies include: an Ombudsman and an independent expert body.
The general legislation applies to all 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, independent living. The National Disability Council states that legal provisions exist for all the benefits listed above, the problem being their implementation.
No new legislation has been enacted since the adoption of the Standard Rules.
There are laws and regulations to ensure accessibility in the build environment but according to the Disability Council they are not sufficient. Legislation and other forms of regulations require that: public places, the outdoor environment, land, sea and air transportation, and housing are made accessible. Accessibility in the build environment is observed by national authority and local Governments. The following measures have been promoted by the Government in order to facilitate accessibility in the build environment, though only to a certain extent: 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 or renovating housing, financial support for adapting private buildings, installing lighting and using contrast colours for visually impaired, provision of specially adapted motor vehicles. There are special transport arrangements being available for the following purposes: medical treatment, education, work, and recreational purpose. The Disability Council states that many factors constitute difficult obstacles when planning to build accessible environments but does not specify the most difficult ones. There is no 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, being used as the first language in education of deaf people. There are no Government measures for encouraging media and other forms of public information to make their services available. However, a particular plan on disabled persons and IT is included in the Government Plan of Action. The following services are - to a limited, insufficient, extent - 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 for any purpose, easy readers for persons with mental disabilities.
Organizations of persons with disabilities
There are 27 organizations represented in the umbrella. 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 national, regional and local level. The Government gives financial support to existing and new organizations. The organizations in Denmark 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, provide services, promote/organize income generating activities.
Co-ordination of work
There is a national co-ordinating committee - The Central Disability Council - composed partly by representatives from the authorities and partly by representatives from organizations of disabled persons. The Council is reporting to the Parliament (Folketinget) and to the Government. The Council includes representatives of several Ministries, of organizations of persons with disabilities, of Municipalities, of Counties. The Government expects the Central Disability Council to participate in policy-making and to perform other tasks i.e. to advise the Parliament and the Government on issues concerning handicap, to evaluate services and measures etc. The establishment of the Central Disability Council has had the following effects: improved co-ordination of measures/programmes, improved legislation, improved integration of responsibility, better dialogue in the disability field, and improved promotion of public awareness.
The adoption of the Standard Rules has provided a new instrument to carry out disability policy.