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 (26 February 1996)
Compare with the following Country Report(s): RI, WBU
There is an officially recognized disability policy, expressed in law, in guidelines adopted by the Government, in guidelines adopted by the National Disability Council, in policy adopted by political parties and in policy adopted by NGO's. The emphasis - in descending scale - is on: individual support, rehabilitation, anti-discrimination law, accessibility measures, prevention.
Since the adoption of the Standard Rules the Government has both initiated and supported information campaigns conveying the message of full participation.
The rights of persons with disabilities are protected by special legislation protecting this particular group and in a combination of special and general legislation. No judicial mechanisms have been adopted to protect the rights of persons with disabilities. However, there is an administrative mechanism for that purpose, namely the Ombudsman.
The general legislation applies to disabled persons with respect to education, employment, the right to marriage, the right to parenthood/family, political rights. The following benefits are by law guaranteed to persons with disabilities: medical/health care, training, rehabilitation and counselling, financial security, employment, independent living, and participation in decisions affecting them.
No legislation concerning disability has been enacted since the adoption of the Rules.
There are laws, regulations and/or guidelines requiring that schools, hospitals, clinics, community centres, rehabilitation centres, theatres, pavements and other outdoor environment, and housing are made accessible. The supervisory function in ensuring that accessibility is observed relies on national authority, local Governments, the constructor, the organizers/providers of services. The following measures are taken by the Government to facilitate accessibility in the build environment: levelling off pavements, marking parking areas, installing automatic doors, installing or widening lifts and installing accessible toilets, providing for specially adapted motor vehicles. Special transport is available for education and work. The most difficult obstacles encountered when planning to build accessible environments are the economic/budgetary factors and the lack of planning and design capacity. No disability awareness component is incorporated in the education of planners, architects and construction engineers.
Sign language is used as the first language in education of deaf people and recognized as the main means of communication between deaf persons and others. No Government measures exist for encouraging media and other forms of public information to make their information services available for persons with disabilities. The following services are provided 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 for major events.
Organizations of persons with disabilities
There is a national umbrella organization. Legal provisions mandate the representatives of persons with disabilities to participate in policy-making. The views of organizations are often taken into account when laws with a disability aspect are being prepared. This occur at both national, regional and local levels. The Government financially supports existing and new organizations. Persons with disabilities participate to a very limited extent in Government, legislature, judiciary, to some extent in political parties and to a great extent in NGO's. The organizations have a role to: mobilize persons with disabilities, identify needs and priorities, participate in the planning, implementation and evaluation of services and measures, contribute to public awareness, and provide services.
Co-ordination of work
There is a national co-ordinating committee reporting to the Ministry of Social Affairs. The committee includes representatives of the Ministry of Finance only. The committee is expected to participate in policy development and to administrate the investment fund of the handicapped. The establishment of the co-ordinating committee has had the following effects: improved co-ordination in the disability field, improved legislation, improved integration of responsibility, more accurate planning, more effective use of resources, improved promotion of public awareness.
The adoption of the Standard Rules has not led to a rethinking of the approach to disability policy.
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