Today on International day for equal rights of people with disabilities and against disability discrimination a number of NGOs presented Zero Report.
This document presents a research describing the situation with the rights of persons with disabilities at the moment of the Convention’s on the rights of persons with disabilities signing. It touches the most problematic spheres, but, according to specialists, it is not a “collective appeal” but an attempt to describe the existing issues and to suggest the ways to solve them.
Gaps in the legislation
Organizations taking part in the creation of the report hope that it will become a starting point for many state institutions which deal with disability topics.
- We don’t want the ratification of the Convention to become a formal step, that is why 8 organizations have joined and prepared Zero Report – says the coordinator of the Office for the rights of persons with disabilities Sergey Drozdovsky. – When we were preparing the report we didn’t orient to some separated spheres but at human rights on the whole and used recommendations of the UN Committee on the rights of persons with disabilities. We evaluated the legal system, legal practice and different cases which happened with persons with disabilities during the last 7-8 years.
Specialists mention that disability issue is mentioned in the national legislation and the country also has special politics in the sphere of disability. But they immediately add: this politics is outdated. For example, till now the issue of disability is considered as a medical one but not as a social.
A person with disability is considered as an object of assistance, social support and rehabilitation but not as a subject who can and is ready to take part in decision-making process concerning his life.
- The legislation doesn’t correspond with the main principles of the international convention. For example, in Belarusian legislation there is no such notion as “discrimination” and that is why there are no mechanisms of banning the discrimination. And at the same time the main violations of human rights of persons with disabilities we record are connected with disability discrimination, - adds Sergey Drozdovsky.
It is acknowledged worldwide that disability is not a problem of a concrete person but a problem of not adapted to the needs of every person environment and it is the environment that doesn’t let to be included in public life and to live a full life in the society.
- There are other gaps in the legislation, - states the lawyer of the Office for the rights of persons with disabilities. – For example, there is no state regulation in the sphere of emergency situations concerning people with disabilities. Monitoring of observance of human rights of persons with disabilities is not provided at the state level in the country. There is no independent state body which can take control over monitoring and observance of human rights of persons with disabilities.
Education, labour and information are inaccessible
Key issues people with different kinds of disabilities face were emphasized during the presentation of Zero Report.
For example, organizations presenting interests of blind or visually impaired people pay attention to imperfection of environment: absence of tactile tiles in the streets, near crossings, stops of public transport is dangerous to their lives. There are almost no signs and other information in Brail. There are problems with informational accessibility: many websites, including those administered by the state, are not adapted to reading by people with visual impairments. None of mass-media publishes in Brail.
- We also want to pay attention to the problem of getting education at different levels by visually impaired people. There also are problems with employment – says the head of the department of BelTIZ Irina Sukhotskaya.
People with hearing impairments have similar problems. In spite of the fact that sign language is consider to be one of the languages of communication in Belarus, only about 70 interpreters are working in the country. No programs and news at state TV channels are dubbed in sign language.
Alexei Konstantinov, an expert in educational policy of center “Lavania” pays attention to issues of inaccessibility of education for children with peculiarities of development.
- Notion “unteachable” is just an issue of the method of teaching but not a characteristic of a person, - he says. – There is a need to reform educational system, program, and pedagogical methods and only then everyone will have a possibility to study.
Individual assistants and support
Organizations working with people with mental disabilities and disorders and with their families pay attention to common inadmissible tendencies – for example, segregation and the absence of adequate social support.
- Usually a family is not ready for a birth of a disabled child that is why psychologists should work already in hospitals. A family should be supported and it should become a usual practice, - says the head of Belarusian association for assistance to disabled children and young disabled Elena Titova.
The specialist also pays attention to the importance of the development of the institute of personal assistants in order children with disabilities would have a possibility to study and in future to work with the help of an assistant. It is also necessary to understand that today parents are children’s personal assistants all life long and it is a minus.
- When parents die or simply cannot longer take care of their children these children are sent to an institution, - says Elena Titovs. – That is why we should promote the creation of a mechanism of support of families and persons with disabilities.
The report includes recommendations the state should pay attention to. For example, according to Sergey Drozdovsky, Belarus should sign the Optional protocol to the Convention in order the ratification wouldn’t be a formal step. It is necessary to create in the country a body working with human rights of persons with disabilities – to monitor and control; to create antidiscriminative legislation; to define state’s policy in the sphere of disability oriented to human rights.