Day of Persons with Disabilities – NGOs demand rights

NGOs are calling for politicians to take the concerns of people with disabilities seriously. International Day of Persons with Disabilities on Sunday, December 3, provides an opportunity for politicians to make a call: there are demands for greater rights in support services, accessibility and inclusive education, among other things. Recently, a UN expert committee identified areas for improvement in Austria’s implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

This case study also forms the basis for extensive criticism. “Austria is committed to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, but there are still huge gaps in its implementation,” Ombudsman Bernhard Achitz emphasized in a press release. He called for Austria to “move away from handouts and towards demands”. Although there are many support services for disabled individuals, there are no legal rights granted to them.

This is what is required when it comes to accessibility, for example the ÖZIV disabled people’s association demanded. Because ÖZIV President Rudolf Kravanja said, “People who are discriminated against in daily life due to disabilities can apply for mediation and possibly go to court, but there is no legal right to remove the obstacle!” says. ‘Toothless’ calls for a review of the Disability Equality Act. Patrick Berger, Head of the Opportunities Assistance Bureau of the Austrian Trade Union Confederation (ÖGB), also criticized the general difficulties in access, as well as the fact that the workplaces of disabled individuals are not barrier-free.

The group advocates for equal treatment of people with disabilities and draws attention to the situation of women and girls with disabilities. Disabled lawyer Christine Steger noted that these women are exposed to sexual violence much more frequently than other women. Authorities, courts and support institutions often lack “barrier-free and low-threshold access as well as appropriate information for women and girls with disabilities.” The fact that special measures are needed to promote and protect women and girls with disabilities was also noted during the state audit, Steger said.

Diakonie and the Association are demanding legal rights to finance assistive technologies for the 63,000 people in Austria with limited spoken language skills. These technologies range from simple electronic aids such as buttons to more complex aids such as visual control. Verbund CEO Michael Strugl emphasized that in addition to legal authority, there should also be central points of contact in all federal states where applications, approvals and recommendations are possible. Diakonie director Maria Katharina Moser proposed establishing a fund supported by federal, state and social insurance companies to finance the aid.

The criticism affected not only the federal government but also the federal states. At the time of the government audit, there were concerns about the high poverty rate among people with disabilities. According to Martin Marlovits from the representative network association, as a result of the Basic Social Welfare Act and the implementing laws of the federal states based on it, they will not only receive no support, but will also be further excluded. In almost all federal states, social authorities oblige disabled people in need of social assistance to legally request financial support from their parents, otherwise social assistance will be reduced. “We call for the UN CRPD (Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, note) to be finally implemented and the reform of social welfare laws,” Marlovits emphasized.

The opposition also identified failures. SPÖ foreign policy spokesperson Petra Bayr criticized the “inadequate implementation” of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. “The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is a legally binding agreement that the government must implement and comply with,” said Fiona Fiedler, NEOS spokesperson for disabled people. He identified a “disaster” in the education sector: “Inclusive school policy is de facto over, children with disabilities and children with disabilities are segregating again rather than expanding inclusive schools.”

“It is our responsibility to work for a society in which everyone has the same opportunities for self-determination, regardless of their physical and mental conditions,” said Norbert Hofer (FPÖ), the third President of the National Council. Disability spokesman Christian Ragger complained that the Freedom Party was demanding “a salary instead of an allowance” and personal assistance at school and at work, but this was not heard by the ÖVP and the Greens.

Natascha Taslimi from the Austrian Primary Education Network (NEBÖ) also thinks that major action is needed in the kindergarten sector. In an interview with APA, she criticized the fact that there are so few places for children with disabilities that hundreds of children in Vienna alone do not have childcare options. There is currently no research on how much space is needed for children with increasing support needs.


Source: Vienna


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