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 (28 March 1996)
The officially recognized disability policy in Turkey is expressed in law and in guidelines adopted by the national disability council. The emphasis - in descending scale - is on: prevention, individual support, accessibility measures, rehabilitation, anti-discrimination law.
The following measures have been taken by the Government to convey the message of full participation: The national Co-ordinating Committee has translated and announced the Standard Rules to all the members, to Ministries, universities, NGOs, federations and to the confederation of persons with disabilities. At the Committee's meeting in 1994 the Standard Rules were placed on the agenda, discussed and a decision taken concerning the enforcement of the Rules. The decision was by the Minister to all the submitted organizations to be followed and enforced. At the Committee's meeting in 1995 the decision was taken that the policies involved in the Standard Rules should be adopted. The decision was notified by the Minister's memorandum. The same meeting resulted in the foundation of "The Committee for the Removal of the Physical Obstacles", "The Committee for the Vocational Rehabilitation and Shelter Place of Employment", based on the Standard Rules. Both committees have started their work.
The rights of persons with disabilities are protected by a combination of special and general legislation. The judicial mechanism adopted to protect the rights of persons with disabilities is due process (legal remedy through courts). Administrative and other non-judicial bodies include: a Governmental body (administrative), associations, foundations, federations and the confederation established for persons with disabilities.
The general legislation applies to all groups 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, and participation in decisions affecting themselves.
No new legislation has been enacted since the adoption of the Rules.
There are laws and regulations to ensure accessibility in the build environment requiring that public places are made accessible. Accessibility in the build environment is observed by a national authority and local Governments. The measures promoted by the Government in order to facilitate accessibility in the build environment are: access to public places and a special permission for disabled drivers to park everywhere as long as they do not interfere with the traffic flow. Special transport arrangements for persons with disabilities include the following: Some municipalities provide the handicapped with public transportation services within cities to no fee or to a discounted fee. Furthermore, some transportation services in the public sector such as the Turkish airlines, railroads make discounts for the handicapped. Special transport can be used for whatever purpose. When planning to build accessible environments the most difficult obstacles: economic/budgetary factors, technical factors, lack of planning and design-capacity, lack of knowledge, research and information, lack of co-operation from other organizations/institutions, lack of enforcement mechanisms. 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 the education of deaf people nor recognized as the main means of communication between deaf persons and others. There are no Government measures to encourage media to make their information services accessible but there are Government measures to make other forms of public information services accessible such as public television employing sign language and slow speech for the deaf. The following services are provided in order to facilitate information and communication between persons with disabilities and other persons: literature on tape, news magazines on tape/Braille, sign language interpretation being available only for major events.
Organizations of persons with disabilities
Federations of persons with disabilities consist of associations representing four groups of disabled people: the blind, the deaf, the mentally handicapped, and the orthopedically handicapped. These four federations are in turn represented under one umbrella, the Confederation of Persons with Disabilities. There are no legal provisions mandating the representatives of persons with disabilities to participate in policy-making and to work with Governmental institutions. Organizations are sometimes consulted when laws and regulations with a disability aspect are being prepared. Consultations take place at the national level. The Government supports organizations financially. Persons with disabilities participate to a very limited extent in Government, legislature, judiciary but to a great extent in political parties and 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
There is a national co-ordinating committee which "reports its activities to the Committee members". The committee includes representatives of several Ministries, organizations of persons with disabilities, other NGOs, of the Prime Ministers office, universities, the State Planning Organization, the Turkish Radio and Television, the State Institute of Statistics, the Employment Office, the General Directorate for Women's Status and Issues, the Turkish Chamber of Physicians, Metropolitan Municipalities, the Confederation of Turkish Trade Unions, the Confederation of Turkish Craftsmen and Tradesmen, and the Turkish Confederation of Employer Associations. The Government neither expects the national co-ordinating committee to participate in policy development nor to perform other tasks. The committee has had the following efects: improved integration of responsibility, better dialogue in the disability field, more accurate planning, and improved promotion of public awareness.
It is too early for an assessment whether the adoption of the Standard Rules has led to a rethinking of the approach to disability policy.
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