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 Affairs (4 April 1996)
Compare with the following Country Report(s): DPI, ILSMH

General policy

The officially recognized disability policy in Switzerland is expressed in law, in guidelines adopted by the Government, in policy adopted by political parties and in policy adopted by NGOs. The emphasis - in descending scale - is on rehabilitation, individual support, accessibility measures, prevention, anti-discrimination law.

Since the adoption of the Rules the Government has not done anything to initiate or support information campaigns conveying the message of full participation.


The rights of persons with disabilities are protected by general legislation.

The general legislation applies to persons with different disabilities 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, independent living.

There are new laws enacted since the adoption of the Rules. On 1 January 1994 the provision of the Federal Decree of 19 June 1992 concerning improved benefits for old-age and survivors' and disability insurance and their financing entered into force. A revision of the disability insurance regulations of 27 September 1993 also entered into force on 1 January 1994.


In all the Cantons there are laws and regulations requiring that public places, the outdoor environment, public transportation and housing are made accessible. Accessibility in the build environment is observed by local Governments (Cantons) and the constructor. 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 and accessible toilets, ensuring access to public places, improving accessibility in housing, providing financial support/incentives for accessibility measures in housing, installing special lighting and using contrast colours for visually impaired, and provision of specially adapted motor vehicles. There is a special transport system for persons with disabilities. The insurance system provides for subsidies for the organizer of special transport. Special transport is available for medical treatment, education, employment, and recreational purposes. When planning to build accessible environments the most difficult obstacle is the economic/budgetary factors. There is no disability awareness component incorporated in the training of planners, architects and construction engineers.

Sign language for deaf people has no officially recognized status. It is neither used as the first language in education of deaf people nor 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 available for persons with disabilities. The following services are provided in order to facilitate information and communication between persons with disabilities and other persons: literature in Braille/tape, news magazines on tape/Braille, and sign language interpretation being available for any purpose.

Organizations of persons with disabilities

There is no national umbrella organization. There are legal provisions mandating the representatives of persons with disabilities to participate in policy-making and to work with Governmental institutions. Organizations are often consulted when laws and regulations with a disability aspect are being prepared. Consultations take place at the national level. The Government financially supports existing or new organizations of persons with disabilities. Persons with disabilities participate to a very limited extent in Government, judicial authorities, political parties, to some extent in legislature and to a great extent in NGOs. In Switzerland 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 concerning the lives of persons with disabilities, provide services, and promote/organize income generating activities.

Co-ordination of work

There is no national co-ordinating committee.

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Compare with the following Country Report(s): DPI, ILSMH