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 (12 April 1996)
The officially recognized disability policy in Oman is expressed in law and in guidelines adopted by a National Disability Council. The emphasis - in descending scale - is on: prevention, individual support, accessibility measures, rehabilitation.
The following actions have been taken by the Government to convey the message of full participation: several meetings and discussions on the Standard Rules by the national committee studying the appropriate way to protect and encourage full participation of disabled persons.
The rights of persons with disabilities are protected by general legislation. There are no judicial mechanisms adopted to protect their rights. There is a Governmental body (administrative) for that purpose.
The general legislation applies to all categories of disabled persons with respect to: education, employment, the right to marriage, the 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: health and medical care, training, rehabilitation and counselling, financial security, employment, independent living, participation in decisions affecting them.
No new legislation concerning disability has been enacted since the adoption of the Standard Rules.
There are laws and regulations to ensure accessibility in the build environment requiring that public places, the outdoor environment and housing are made accessible. Accessibility in the build environment is observed by the national authority (National Committee for the Services of Disabled Persons) and local Governments. The following measures have been promoted by the Government: levelling off pavements, marking parking areas, installing automatic doors, lifts, accessible toilets, ensuring access to public places, improving accessibility in housing, financial support for the costs of adapting private buildings to the needs of disabled people, provision of specially adapted motor vehicles. Public transportation is provided free of charge (some pay only 10 per cent of the charges) and is available for whatever purpose. According to the Government technical factors constitute the only obstacle when planning to build accessible environments. There is a disability awareness component in the training of planners, architects and construction engineers.
Sign language for deaf people is recognized as the main means of communication between deaf persons and others. There are Government measures for encouraging media and other forms of public information to make their services accessible. No services are provided in order to facilitate information and communication between persons with disabilities and other persons, except from sign language interpretation for major events, though not provided at the national level.
Organizations of persons with disabilities
There is a national umbrella organization though still, according to the Government, being at the "infant stage". 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 occurs at the national level. The Government gives organizational/logistic support to existing or new organizations. Persons with disabilities do not participate in political and public life in Oman. The role of organizations is to mobilize persons with disabilities, identify needs and priorities, and contribute in public awareness.
Co-ordination of work
The national co-ordinating committee is reporting to the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour. The committee includes representatives of the following Ministries: Social Affairs and Labour, Employment, Education, and Defence also includes representatives from organizations of persons with disabilities, other NGOs and the private sector. The Government expects the committee to participate in policy development and to perform other tasks such as fund raising, public awareness, studies and survey's on disabilities. The committee has had the following effects: improved co-ordination of measures/programmes, legislation, integration of responsibility, a better dialogue in the disability field, more accurate planning, more effective use of resources, and improved promotion of public awareness.
According to the Government it is too early to make an assessment whether the adoption of the Standard Rules has led to a rethinking of the approach to disability policy. The Standard Rules are still being studied by the National Committee of the Services of Disabled People.
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