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Government Action on Disability Policy
A Global Survey
Part II - Government Replies as Country Profiles

Sri Lanka

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© Dimitris Michailakis 1997

Permanet Mission (27 March 1996)
General policy

The officially recognized disability policy in Sri Lanka is expressed in guidelines adopted by the Government, and in guidelines adopted by the national disability council. The emphasis - in descending scale - is on: rehabilitation, prevention, anti-discrimination law, individual support, accessibility measures.

The Government has conveyed the message of full participation, through work shops and mass media campaigns.

Legislation

A draft special legislation will be submitted to the Parliament shortly. The judicial mechanism which has been adopted to protect the rights of persons with disabilities is due process (legal remedy through courts). There are no administrative or other non-judicial bodies for that purpose.

General legislation does not apply to persons with disabilities. There are no benefits guaranteed by law to persons with disabilities. The legislation is under preparation.

No new legislation has been enacted since the adoption of the Rules.

Accessibility

There are no laws, regulations and/or guidelines ensuring accessibility in the build environment. No measures have been promoted in order to facilitate accessibility in the build environment. There are no special transport arrangements for persons with disabilities. When planning to build accessible environments the most difficult obstacles are: attitudinal factors, economic/budgetary factors, lack of legislation and regulations. There is a disability awareness component incorporated in the training of planners, architects and construction engineers.

Sign language for deaf people is used as the first language in education of deaf people, and is recognized as the main means of communication between deaf people and others. There are Government measures for encouraging media and other forms of public information to make their services accessible for persons with disabilities. The following services are provided in order to facilitate information and communication between persons with disabilities and others: literature in Braille/tape, news magazines on tape/Braille, sign language interpretation, available for any purpose.

Organizations of persons with disabilities

The organizations of the blind and of the physically disabled are represented in the 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 with a disability aspect arre bbeing prepared and their views are being considered at national level. The Government supports existing or new organizations financially. Persons with disabilities participate to a very limited extent in Government, legislature, judiciary, political parties and to a great extent in NGOs. The organizations 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, 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 Social Services. The committee includes representatives of the Ministries of: Finance, Health and Social Affairs, Employment, Education, Planning, and from organizations of persons with disabilities. The Government expects the national co-ordinating committee to participate in policy development and to perform other tasks, e.g. the preparation of action plans. The establishment of the co-ordinating committee has had the following effects: improved co-ordination of measures/programmes, improved legislation, a better dialogue in the disability field, and improved promotion of public awareness.

According to the Government the adoption of the Standard rules has led to a rethinking of the approach to disability policy.


Contents of the UN Report