Government Action on Disability Policy
A Global Survey
Part II - Government Replies as Country Profiles
Republic of Korea
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© Dimitris Michailakis 1997
Transmitted by Permanent Mission to the United Nations, New York (28 March 1996)
The officially recognized disability policy in the Republic of Korea is expressed in manifold ways: in law, in guidelines adopted by the Government, in guidelines adopted by a National disability Council and in policy adopted by NGOs. The emphasis - in descending scale - is on: prevention, rehabilitation, anti-discrimination law, individual support, accessibility measures.
Since the adoption of the rules the Government has done the following in order to convey the message of full participation: In April 1995 "Theme Song contest" was held for the promotion of the Asian and Pacific Decade of Disabled Persons; In December 1995 a survey was carried out on the situation of disabled persons; In February 1996 "Voice of Love" was established, a radio broadcasting station for the disabled persons; Since 1994 a rehabilitation information centre is bbeing managed.
The rights of persons with disabilities are protected by a combination of special and general legislation. No judicial mechanisms have been adopted to protect the rights of persons with disabilities. Other non-judicial mechanisms include a Governmental body (administrative) protecting the rights of persons with disabilities.
The general legislation applies to all categories of disabled persons with respect to: education and employment. The following benefits are guaranteed by law to persons with disabilities: health and medical care, training, rehabilitation and counselling, financial security, employment, independent living, and participation in decisions affecting them.
Since the adoption of the Standard Rules the Government has adopted the "Rules on the Implementation Standards of Barrier Free Environments and Facilities for Persons with disabilities"
There are laws and regulations ensuring accessibility of the build environment requiring that public places, the outdoor environment, land, sea, air transportation, and housing are made accessible. Accessibility in the build environment is observed by a national authority, local Governments and disability related NGOs. The following measures have been promoted by the Government in order to facilitate accessibility in the build environment: levelling off pavements, marking parking areas, installing automatic doors, lifts, accessible toilets, improving accessibility in housing. Special transport arrangements include: discharge of tax on vehicles for persons with disabilities, discount of train and subway fares, developing various measures to help reduce the economic hardships on persons with disabilities and their families. Special transport is available for: medical treatment, education, work. When planning to build accessible environments the most difficult obstacles are: attitudinal factors and economic/budgetary factors. There is no disability awareness component incorporated in the training of planers, architects and construction engineers.
Sign language for deaf people is recognized as the official language of deaf people. It is used as the first language in education of deaf people and is recognized as the main means of communication between deaf persons and others. There are Government measures to encourage media and other forms of public information to make their services accessible. 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, sign language interpretation available for any purpose.
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 and to work with Governmental institutions. Organizations are always consulted when laws and regulations with a disability aspect are being prepared. This occur at the national level. The Government supports the organizations financially. Persons with disabilities participate to some extent in legislature, judiciary and political parties and to a great extent in Government and NGOs. The organizations in the Republic of Korea have the role to: advocate rights, mobilize persons with disabilities, participate in the planning, implementation and evaluation of services and measures, contribute to public awareness, provide services, and promote/organize income generating activities.
Co-ordination of work
The national co-ordinating committee is reporting to the Ministry of Health and Welfare. The committee includes representatives of the Ministries of health and Social Affairs, Employment, Education, and from the organizations of persons with disabilities and professionals. The Government expects the committee to participate in policy development but not to perform other tasks. The committee has had the following effects: improved co-ordination of measures/ programmes, improved integration of responsibility, a better dialogue in the disability field, more accurate planning, and improved promotion of public awareness.
Since their adoption in the Republic of Korea the Standard Rules have been reflected in the relevant policy for the persons with disabilities.
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