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Government Implementation of the Standard Rules
As Seen By Member Organizations of
World Federation of the Deaf - WFD

South Africa


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© Dimitris Michailakis 1997

Deaf Federation of South Africa (DEAFSA), South Africa
Compare with the following Country Report(s): the South African Government, ILSMH


General policy

The officially recognized disability policy in South Africa is expressed in guidelines adopted by the government, in guidelines adopted by the National Disability Council and in policy adopted by NGOs. At the same time there is no officially recognized disability policy according to the DEAFSA. The emphasis in this national policy - in descending scale - is on anti-discrimination law, accessibility measures, rehabilitation, individual support and prevention.

Since the adoption of the Standard Rules the government has done the following in order to convey the message of full participation: introduced a disability representative in the Parliament, created a national Co-ordinating Committee on Disability and developed a national integrated disability strategy (in the office of the President). According to the Government, no campaign was initiated in order to convey the message of full participation.


Legislation

The rights of persons with disabilities are protected by general legislation. According to the Government, there is no legislation at the present to protect the rights of persons with disabilities. The Government, however, is investigating a comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation. The judicial mechanism available to protect the right of persons with disabilities is due process (legal remedy through courts). Administrative and other non-judicial bodies do not exist.

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, the right to privacy and 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. According to the Government, few benefits are guaranteed in South Africa by law. There is medical care in the towns and in the big cities. Most rural areas have poor or no facilities. Income is guaranteed by means of a disability grant, subject to means test.

New legislation concerning disability has been enacted, since the adoption of the Standard Rules. According to the Government, no new legislation concerning disability has been enacted, since the adoption of the Rules.


Accessibility

There are no laws and regulations - not for deaf people - to ensure accessibility of the built environment. According to the Government, there are laws and regulations to ensure accessibility of the built environment requiring that public places, the outdoor environment, and means of public transportation are made accessible. No responsible body exists to ensure accessibility in the built environment. No special measures for deaf people have been promoted by the government to ensure accessibility in the built environment. There are no special transport arrangements for persons with disabilities. The most difficult obstacles, when planning to build accessible environments, are attitudinal factors, lack of legislation and regulations, lack of planning and design-capacity, lack of knowledge, research and information, lack of user participation, lack of co-operation from other organizations/institutions and lack of enforcement mechanism. 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, is not used as the official language of deaf people and is not recognized as the main means of communication between deaf persons and others. There are no government measures to encourage media and other forms of public information to make their services accessible to persons with disabilities. The Federation states that no services are provided in order to facilitate information and communication between persons with disabilities and others. According to the Government, the following services are provided in order to facilitate such information and communication: literature in Braille/tape, news magazines on tape/Braille and sign language interpretation being available for major events.


Organizations of persons with disabilities

There is a national umbrella organization. Virtually all the different organizations of persons with disabilities are represented. There are no legal provisions mandating the representatives of persons with disabilities to participate in policy-making or to work with governmental institutions. Disability organizations are sometimes consulted, when laws and regulations with a disability aspect are being prepared. Whenever there are consultations, they take place at the national level. The support given by the government to existing and new organizations of persons with disabilities, is subsidies for social workers and grants for the national co-ordinating committee on disability. Persons with disabilities participate to a very limited extent in government, legislatures, judiciary system, political parties and to a great extent in NGOs. The role of disabled persons organizations is 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, contribute to public awareness, provide services and to promote/organize income generating activities.


Co-ordination of work

The national co-ordinating committee is reporting to various state departments. The co-ordinating committee include representatives of the Ministries of Health and Social Affairs, of Employment, of Transport and of Education, from organizations of persons with disabilities, from other NGOs, from the private sector and of relevant professionals. The government expects the co-ordinating committee to participate in policy development and to perform other tasks. According to the Government, the co-ordinating committee is not expected to perform other tasks. It is too early for an assessment concerning the effects of the establishment of the co-ordinating committee. According to the Government, the establishment of the co-ordinating committee has had the following effects: improved co-ordination of measures/programmes in the disability field, improved integration of responsibility, a better dialogue in the disability field, more accurate planning and improved promotion of public awareness.

The Federation states that the adoption of the Standard Rules has led to a rethinking of the approach to disability policy.


Contents of the WFD Report | Compare with the following Country Report(s): the South African Government, ILSMH