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 (29 March 1996)
Compare with the following Country Report(s): DPI, RI, WFD
The officially recognized disability policy in Greece is expressed in law, in guidelines adopted by the Government, in policy adopted by political parties, and in policy adopted by NGOs. In addition, the Article 21 of the Constitution makes reference to disability and constitutes a mandate for legislative and administrative action. The emphasis - in descending scale - is on: individual support, prevention, rehabilitation, accessibility measures, anti-discrimination law.
Since the adoption of the Standard Rules the Government has taken the following actions in order to convey the message of full participation. There have been spots on TV and various events relating to the International Day of Disabled persons. A recent law (1995) mandates TV and Radio to allocate time for awareness raising messages. Proposed legislation recognizes the International Day of the Disabled.
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). There is also a Governmental (administrative) body for the same purpose.
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 and property rights. However, in an explanatory note, the Government adds that the general legislation is applicable, unless the special legislation regulates otherwise. In special education and in employment policy for disabled persons, and under certain conditions legal rights are restricted by court decision, usually at the request of parents and according to the opinion of expert bodies in the context of better protection of the individual interests. Regarding the right to privacy, the Government also states, that the enjoyment of this right is constrained by accessibility barriers and the resulting overprotection/dependency. The following benefits are by law, guaranteed to persons with disabilities: health and medical care, training, rehabilitation and counselling, financial security, employment, independent living, and participation in decisions affecting them. Though the benefits of financial security, employment, independent living and participation in decisions affecting persons with disabilities, are legally provided the implementation is constrained by existent resources in infrastructure, staffing and budgets.
Since the adoption of the Rules a special law is dealing with conditions and review mechanisms for the provision of organized welfare services some of which apply to facilities and services for disabled persons.
There are laws and regulations to ensure accessibility in the build environment requiring that the outdoor environment, land, sea and air transportation are made accessible. As to the relevant authority for the supervisory function the Government states that this function in practice is spread, this being considered as part of the problem. The following measures have been promoted by the Government in order to facilitate accessibility in the build environment: levelling off pavements, marking parking areas, provision of specially adapted motor vehicles. Regarding special transport arrangements the Government states that urban transportation is free for commuters and that discounts exist for long distance travel. Special transport is offered for medical treatment, education, and recreational purpose. When planning to build accessible environments the most difficult obstacles are: attitudinal factors, technical factors, geographical and climatic factors in some cases, lack of legislation and regulations, lack of planning and design-capacity, lack of knowledge, research and information, lack of user participation, 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. It is neither used as the first language in education of deaf people, nor recognized as the main means of communication between deaf persons and others. There are Government measures for encouraging media to make their information 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, and sign language interpretation, available only for major events.
Organizations of persons with disabilities
There is a national umbrella organization for all the organizations of persons with disabilities. Legal provisions mandate the representatives of persons with disabilities to participate in policy-making and to work with Governmental institutions. Organizations are often consulted when laws with a disability aspect are being prepared. Consultations take place at the national, regional and local level. The Government financially supports organizations of persons with disabilities. Persons with disabilities participate to some extent in Government (the General Secretary of Welfare is a blind person), in political parties and in NGOs. In Greece the role of disabled persons organizations is 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, promote/organize income generating activities.
Co-ordination of work
There is no national co-ordinating committee. Though the process has been slow, the Standard Rules have helped in organising new services and are taken into account when new legislation is being prepared. The Rules have certainly strengthened the demands of the organizations concerned.
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