There is a lot of clarity regarding the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Austria

Julia Moser, director general of “Light for the World”, confirms in an APA interview what the UN technical committee responsible for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities found in its state review of Austria last summer: Austria is going through a process of non-conventional implementation. “I feel like when you talk to political representatives, it’s not taken that seriously,” Moser said.

In his speech on the occasion of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (December), the director general of the specialized organization for disabled people emphasized that there are many problem areas in Austria “where you feel that you are just at the beginning”. 3). “This does not make much sense. The convention has been ratified in Austria for 15 years and they have to implement it. It seems that Austria also signed this with the assumption that it was sufficient for now,” Moser said. he criticized.

The “Light for the World” boss spoke of his feeling that the UN Charter was perceived as frustrating: “It’s reviewed every few years and then we have to think of things and show what we’ve done. And now there’s another decade. Peaceful years until next time.” Moser admitted: “I must also say that important things have happened in some areas. Of course, also because of the UN Charter. In other areas, some steps back have been taken.”

This situation affects the daily lives of disabled individuals. Moser pointed out that unlike blind people who use long canes, wheelchair users or people with Down syndrome, most disabilities are not visible. “But I don’t even notice it if I don’t know that it is an obstacle for someone else. The daily life of disabled people is often characterized by encountering obstacles. Often you experience this feeling, all the time. I have to point out again the same things that should have been done a long time ago Why alternative access to steps is now necessary I don’t want to argue that it is, why an elevator isn’t just important for people with disabilities, and why an elevator isn’t a good idea “When you have text in an even lighter gray font on a light gray background, so almost no one can read it,” Moser said.

According to the director general of “Light to the World”, a problem in the implementation of the UN Convention is that measures are required at various levels; The key word is federalism. And as is often the case, the question is: Who pays? “Because countries don’t really feel obligated anymore,” Moser said. Added to this is the community level where the obligation is not really seen. “And there is absolutely overwhelming demand because there are no offers from the federal government for further education,” the director general said.

The convention also regulates the inclusion of people with disabilities in decision-making processes: “It is absolutely a huge problem in Austria that people do not understand what participation or comprehensive participatory participation really means. People then say that they can invite one or two representatives or representatives to a meeting and then you continue on your own. You don’t make sure the processes are adjusted accordingly,” Moser said. A good example in many respects is disaster control in Austria, which is a state responsibility. If individuals with disabilities are not included in such decision-making and optimization processes, they will be “forgotten.” They are the first “at risk” – if deaf people do not notice the siren alarm, for example.

Moser said one of the biggest criticisms of summer state testing has to do with the education sector — “with good reason.” “Education is a big construction site. From the very beginning, there is discrimination between disabled and non-disabled children. Then you cannot find a way out. Once the child enters a private school, a certain path is programmed. Private school leads to a supervised workshop with pocket money.” However, the director general of “Light to the World” admitted that it is easier to consider inclusion in a de facto newly established education system (an example of this would be South Sudan) than to consider inclusion in an existing system that replaces segregation. .

A big challenge for both government agencies and charities is the availability of resources. “We want to have inclusive development cooperation in the ADA (Austrian Development Agency, note). There are very determined people there. Of course, it would be difficult if the system or structure does not allow for this,” Moser explained.

The managing director of “Light to the World” pointed out that thinking about inclusivity is not automatic, even among charities. “It’s often person-focused. I think it depends on who is in a particular position and whether that person is concerned about being involved. There’s a lot of expertise out there already. I don’t see it being important for NGOs in general to be involved.” One of his goals is “to disseminate these ideas in NGOs; this requires resources.” Moser: “This does not mean that we have an additional bureaucratic requirement.”

“The resource situation of NGOs is not very good either,” he admitted. There are some examples of best practice in Austria and the states where “Light for the World” operates: Moser himself contributed to internal training on involvement of member organizations in the umbrella organization AG Globale Responsibility. “The feedback was very good: ‘We need more of this, please. And with more detail next time’, which is what participants wanted. So the will is there.”

In Mozambique, “Light to the World” conducted an analysis together with the UN children’s agency UNICEF, following the “Idai” cyclone that hit the region in March 2019, killing hundreds of people and causing heavy destruction in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe. According to Moser, “Why weren’t people with disabilities warned? Why were they less able to find protection? Why couldn’t people with disabilities get food?” were some of the questions. And best of all: “How do you make people with disabilities more resilient to the next disaster? So that if the worst happens, they can open a small business and put a little something aside for rebuilding.”

“Light for the World” project works intensively in countries where disabled people are called role models. In South Sudan, for example, it is relatively easy to explain to citizens the importance of participation. “Everyone there definitely has contact with people with disabilities, because almost every family has someone with a disability. And we have an inclusion counselor there who played with a grenade as a child. He lost an arm and his eyesight,” Moser said.

Or the example of Burkina Faso: There, “Light to the World” works with an organization of the Catholic Church that manages 40 percent of primary schools in the West African Sahel state. And intensive work is being done to make education inclusive in these schools. “And if we leave now, this will continue,” Moser emphasized.

(Interview conducted by Gunther Lichtenhofer/APA.)


Source: Vienna


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