Government Action on Disability Policy
A Global Survey
Part II - Government Replies as Country Profiles
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© Dimitris Michailakis 1997
Ministry of Social Security and Labor (13 February 1996)
Compare with the following Country Report(s): ILSMH, WBU
There is an officially recognized disability policy expressed in law. There are three laws creating the basis for the disability policy: The 1990 Act concerning protection of the rights of the disabled; The 1991 Law of social integration of the disabled; The 1995 Act concerning the proclamation of 1996 as the year of the disabled. The emphasis - in descending scale - is on prevention, rehabilitation, individual support, accessibility measures.
Since the adoption of the Standard Rules the Government has conveyed the message of full participation by way of the Proclamation of 1996 as the year of the disabled and the translation of the Standard Rules to Lithuanian language.
The rights of persons with disabilities are incorporated in: special legislation, general legislation and in a combination of the two. The mechanism having been established for the protection of the rights of persons with disabilities is Due process (legal remedy through courts). General legislation applies to persons with disabilities with respect to education, employment, right to marriage, 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: medical/health care, training, rehabilitation, counselling, financial security, employment, independent living.
Since the adoption of the Standard Rules the 1995 Act has been adopted.
There are laws and regulations concerning accessibility in the build environment. National authorities and local Governments observe accessibility in the build environment. In order to facilitate accessibility in the build environment the Government has adopted relevant legislation. There is a free, subsidized specially adapted transport, available to persons with disabilities for the following purposes: medical treatment, education, work and recreational purpose. When planning to build accessible environments the most difficult obstacles encountered are: attitudes, high costs and technical factors. There is a disability component incorporated in the training of planners, architects and construction engineers.
Sign language has since 1995 been recognized as the official language of the deaf people. The Government has taken measures in order to encourage media and other forms of public information to make their information service accessible for persons with disabilities. Many kinds of services - literature on tape/Braille, news magazines on tape/Braille, sign language interpretation, easy readers - are "available but not in all cases" in order to facilitate information and communication between persons with disabilities and other persons.
Organizations of persons with disabilities
There are five main organizations being umbrella organizations for other (smaller) organizations. There are legal provisions mandating the representatives of persons with disabilities to participate in policy-making and to work with Government institutions. The views of organizations of persons with disabilities often are taken into account when laws, regulations and/or guidelines are being prepared. This occurs more often at the national level and more rarely at the regional or local level. Existing or new organizations receive financial and organizational/logistic support as well as "legal, methodical" support. Persons with disabilities participate in political and public life to a very limited extent, except in NGO's, where they participate to a great extent. The organizations of persons with disabilities 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, and contribute to public awareness.
Co-ordination of work
There is a national co-ordinating committee, reporting to the "Lithuanian Council for Invalids Affairs at the Lithuanian Government." The committee includes representatives from the Ministries of Health and Social Affairs, Employment, Housing, Education, Culture, from organizations of persons with disabilities, from the private sector, from the Vilnius University and from the Kaunas Medical Academy. The co-ordinating committee is expected to participate in policy development. 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, a better dialogue in the disability field, more accurate planning, more effective use of resources, and improved promotion of public awareness.
The adoption of the Standard Rules has lead to a rethinking of the approach to disability policy.
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