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

France

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© Dimitris Michailakis 1997

Ministry of Social Affairs (6 May 1996)
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General policy

The officially recognized disability policy in France is expressed in law. The emphasis - in descending scale - is on prevention, individual support, rehabilitation, accessibility measures, and anti-discrimination law.

The Government has not, since the adoption of the Rules, done anything to initiate or support information campaigns conveying the message of full participation.

Legislation

The rights of persons with disabilities are protected by special legislation, exclusively dealing with disability matters. The only mechanism available to protect the rights of persons with disabilities is due process (legal remedy through courts).

The general legislation applies to persons with different disabilities with respect to education, the right to marriage, the right to parenthood/family, political rights, access to court of law, right to privacy and property rights. The following benefits are guaranteed by law to persons with disabilities: training, rehabilitation and counselling, financial security, employment.

No 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 requiring that public places, land, sea and air transportation and housing are made accessible. Accessibility in the build environment is observed by a national authority and local Governments. The following measures, facilitating accessibility in the build environment, have been promoted by the Government: installing or widening lifts and installing 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. There is no special transport system for persons with disabilities. When planning to build accessible environments the most difficult obstacles are economic/budgetary factors and technical factors. There is a disability awareness component incorporated in the training of planners, architects and construction engineers.

The following services are provided in order to facilitate information and communication between persons with disabilities and others: literature on tape, news magazines on tape/Braille and sign language interpretation for major events.

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 national level. The Government gives financial support to existing or new organizations. Persons with disabilities participate to a very limited extent in Government, legislature, judiciary 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, contribute to public awareness and provide services.

Co-ordination of work

The national co-ordinating committee is reporting to the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. The committee includes representatives of the Ministries of Health and Social Affairs, Employment, Education, as well as of organizations of persons with disabilities, and from the private sector. The Government expects the committee to participate in policy development. The committee is, however, not expected to perform other tasks. The establishment of the co-ordinating committee has had the following effects: improved co-ordination of measures/programmes in the disability field, improved legislation, and better dialogue in the disability field.



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