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 (3 April 1996)
The officially recognized disability policy in Malta is expressed in guidelines adopted by the Government,, and in guidelines adopted by a National Disability Council. The emphasis is on: rehabilitation and accessibility measures.
The Government states that a disability week is organized every year around the 3rd of December as well as an International day of Disabled People, in order to convey the message of full participation.
The rights of persons with disabilities are, up to a certain extent, protected by general legislation. The judicial mechanism aimed at the protection of the rights of disabled people is due process (legal remedy through courts). There are no administrative and other non-judicial bodies for that purpose.
The general legislation applies to all persons with different disabilities with respect to: education, employment, political rights, property rights. The following benefits are guaranteed by law to disabled people: financial security and employment.
Since the adoption of the Standard Rules the Amendment to the Disabled Persons Employment Act was made whereby the responsibility of this Act was transferred to the Employment and Training Corporation, together with the mainstream provisions in this field.
There are laws and regulations to ensure accessibility of the build environment. A national authority is reviewing the accessibility in the build environment. The following measures have been promoted to facilitate accessibility in the build environment: levelling off pavements, marking parking areas, improving accessibility in housing, financial support for the costs of adapting private buildings to the needs of persons with disabilities and specially adapted motor vehicles. Special transport arrangements for persons with disabilities are provided for by a foundation for specialized transport at subsidized prices and available for the purposes of education and work. When planning to build accessible environments the most difficult obstacles, according to the Government, are attitudinal factors and lack of enforcement mechanisms. There is a disability awareness component incorporated in the training of planners, architects and construction engineers.
Sign language for deaf people is not recognized as the official language of deaf people, is not recognized as the first language in education of deaf people, and is not recognized as the main means of communication between deaf people and others. The Government states, however, that the University is organising research in Maltese sign language. There are no Government measures for encouragingg media to make their information services available for disabled persons. The following services are provided in order to facilitate information and communication between persons with disabilities and other persons: literature on tape and sign language interpretation available for major events.
Organizations of persons with disabilities
The organizations represented in the national umbrella organization are mainly organizations for persons with disabilities. No legal provisions exist mandating the representatives of persons with disabilities to participate in policy-making and to work with Governmental institutions. Organizations are sometimes consulted when laws with a disability aspect are being prepared. This occurs at the national level. The Government supports existing and new organizations through subsidy on postage. Persons with disabilities participate to a very limited extent in Government, legislature, judiciary, political parties and to some extent in NGOs. The disabled persons' organizations have the role in Malta is to provide services and organize social activities.
Co-ordination of work
There is a national co-ordinating committee reporting to the Ministry for Social Development.
The committee includes representatives of the Ministries of: Health and Social Affairs, Employment, Housing, Education, from local Governments, the university, from the Department of Social Security and from organizations of persons with disabilities. The Government expects the committee to participate in policy development, to co-ordinate Government work in this area, to serve as a channel between disabled persons and Government departments, andd to provide centralised service e.g. ID-cards. The committee has had the following effects: improved co-ordination of measures/programmes, a better dialogue in the disability field, promoted public awareness, developed policies, and centralised services.
The adoption of the Standard Rules has not really led to a rethinking of the approach to disability policy but they are of great help, giving more authority to the Government's work.
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