After completing this resource, the learner will be able to:
- Describe the landscape of disability organisations and agencies in their own country and identify crucial characteristics of successful supportive frameworks and coalitions;
- Develop a comparative perception of legal frameworks and best practices across EU countries and correlate them with the specific context they are established in;
- Explain the meaning of legislations and policies about disability in their own country that are relevant to the rights of people with disability, with a specific focus in labour market;
- Correlate the meaning of national or regional law and policies to the specific national or regional context so as to be able to advocate for positive changes in their domestic context;
- Spot opportunities to transfer existing good practices to their own context
This module is meant to help learners get acquainted to basic knowledge regarding the legal and institutional framework (meaning the agencies, the organised groups of professionals, policy makers, civil society, associations etc.), best practices and references which form the environment within which disabled people and the professionals or their families struggle for their inclusion in the labour market and workplace in general. The scope of the module is comparative, including examples and regulations across the EU (not only the EU partner countries) so as to help learners draw the best aspects of the frameworks which are described throughout the module. This way, we hope to encourage them in prioritising needs, opportunities and necessary changes in their domestic local, national or regional context. The module follows a “pointing out’’ line, avoiding to “bombard” learners with a huge load of info. Instead, learners who wish to deepen in the material will be referred to external sources. Consequently, the ultimate goal is to make learners form a big picture of the situation regarding the inclusion and integration of persons with disabilities across the EU. BRIDGES partnership strongly believes that this is the best way to boost the sustainability of the learning material and learning outcomes.
||In this module, disability, apart from a factual condition, is treated as a legal term connected with recognised rights. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) “Disability is conceived as an umbrella term for impairments, activity limitations and participation restrictions. It denotes the negative aspects of the interaction between a person’s health condition(s) and that individual’s contextual factors (environmental and personal factors).”
|Organisations and agencies
||All types of public or private bodies, entities, associations acting as a group of professionals, activists, consultants, supporters, regardless of their legal personality who have the inclusion of disabled people in the cenre of their scope of activity, interests, policies, interventions or in their top priorities list.
||It might refer either to typically binding rules (decrees, laws, constitutional stipulations, EU regulations, EU or International Treaties and Convention) or so called ‘’soft law’’ (including national, EU or international strategies, guidelines published by executive or legislative bodies etc).
||Any type of institutional, public or private interventions which produce a framework of action in favour or against disabled people’s right to inclusion or workplace integration, regardless of their legally binding nature.
||According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) “a good practice is not only a practice that is good, but a practice that has been proven to work well and produce good results, and is therefore recommended as a model. It is a successful experience, which has been tested and validated, in the broad sense, which has been repeated and deserves to be shared so that a greater number of people can adopt it.”
|Rule of law
||“The authority and influence of law in society, especially when viewed as a constraint on individual and institutional behaviour; (hence) the principle whereby all members of a society (including those in government) are considered equally subject to publicly disclosed legal codes and processes.”
||World Health Organisation
||According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
||Employment and Vocational Training Institute (Instituto de Emprego e Formação Professional – IEFP) – Portugal
||National Disability Authority (Ireland)
||International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health by the World Health Organisation
||UN Disability Rights Committee
||UN Disability Rights Committee
||International Labour Organisation
||European Economic Community
||Willing Able Mentoring Programme (Ireland)
Despite the great range of national, EU and international regulations regarding the state and governmental obligations regarding the treatment that disabled people should receive but also the opportunities for inclusion and integration they should be offered, the reality in lots of EU Member-States is much different from theory. Significant gaps in the institutional mechanisms (caused by several reasons such as the economic crisis, the Covid-19 situation etc.), lack of coordination, a monolithic “medical” perception of inclusion, are some of the obstacles that disabled people and their supporting professionals or family members are continuously facing. On the other hand, the biggest problem is located in the field of training for professionals. Few training opportunities, the lack of national strategies, scattered staff around the EU countries asked to emphasise on their specific working environment and other factors, prevent professionals and family members from expanding their supporting approach, enrich their knowledge and leverage their supporting services.
That is exactly the gap that Disability Organisations and Agencies are struggling to cover across the EU. From volunteer supporting groups to semi-governmental organisations, and from NGOs to large foundations supported by donations or other funds constitute a realm of bees that try to overcome obstacles, lack of organisation and coordination. Their activity varies from mere activism or syndicalism to specialised service provision. In the end of the day, they are the ones who maintain the hope both for disabled people and supporting professionals or family members. Getting familiar with some of them will provide the learner with precious references which will permit the comparison between the domestic practice and the practice abroad. After all, this is the meaning of a training for professionals: questioning a situation that they are used to.
During an era where the rule of law is doubted or even undermined, it is very important for a professional who supports people with disabilities to overview how the international community and the organised disability rights lobbies achieved to integrate their expectations into significant legal documents, both at a local and at an international level. As long as Justice operates, laws also have to rule.
So, in order to better understand the rights of persons with disabilities, you have to better understand the legal base of these rights and, additionally, the history and the philosophical background of them. Because, as it happens with all categories of rights, they must never been taken for granted. On the opposite, rights are the continuous struggle to reveal their tangible content out of the legal phrasing of a decree, a national law, a constitutional stipulation, an EU directive, up to an international convention.
What follows is a brief overview of the international legal framework, boosted with some examples of the incorporation of international obligations within the national legal spheres.
Moving from the international to the national/local level, the presentation of the legal framework follows the following order:
1 ’Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities’’): according to the official UN website “Among the major outcomes of the Decade of Disabled Persons was the adoption of the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities by the General Assembly on 20 December 1993 (resolution 48/96 annex). Although not a legally binding instrument, the Standard Rules represent a strong moral and political commitment of Governments to take action to attain equalization of opportunities for persons with disabilities. The rules serve as an instrument for policy-making and as a basis for technical and economic cooperation.”
UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities its Optional Protocol and the UN Disability Rights Committee (CRPD)
The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol was launched on 13 December 2006 at UN Headquarters in New York. It is worth noting that the discussion for this prominent legal document took 4 years. According to the official UN website “the Convention is intended as a human rights instrument with an explicit, social development dimension. It adopts a broad categorization of persons with disabilities and reaffirms that all persons with all types of disabilities must enjoy all human rights and fundamental freedoms. It clarifies and qualifies how all categories of rights apply to persons with disabilities and identifies areas where adaptations have to be made for persons with disabilities to effectively exercise their rights and areas where their rights have been violated, and where protection of rights must be reinforced.”. The Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) is the body of independent experts which σας created by the UN to monitor and evaluate implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities by the signatory States
Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (Disabled Persons) Convention of the International Labour Organisation (No. C159)
The ILO is “the United Nations agency devoted to advancing opportunities for women and men, including persons with disabilities, to obtain decent and productive work in conditions of freedom, equity, security and human dignity. Its main aims are to promote rights at work, encourage decent employment opportunities, enhance social protection and strengthen dialogue in handling work-related issues.”Following UN’s lines, the ILO has been in the front line of all workers’ rights, especially the most vulnerable, among whom disabled people.
Council Recommendation of 24 July 1986 on the employment of disabled people in the Community
this recommendation was elaborated and launched by the Council of the European Communities, the ancestor of the EU. The recommendation was dedicated to the employment of disabled persons, with a special focus on the creation of new workplaces which could fit with disabled people’s needs. Another focal point of the Recommendation was sheltered employment. According to the Recommendation, Member States should, among others, prioritize enhancing training possibilities for disabled as a means for offering them a tangible opportunity for an active career development (86/379/EEC
Council Directive 2000/78/EC of 27 November 2000
he Directive establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation. Within the directive, disability along with other characteristics related to diversity – such as sexual orientation, racial or ethnic origin, religion etc.- falls under the protective umbrella against discrimination in the workplace. This specific Directive was meant to complement the Directive 2000/43/EC on equal treatment between persons irrespective of racial or ethnic origin and the Directive 2006/54/EC on equal treatment of men and women in matters of employment and occupation
Strategy for Disability of the Council of Europe 2017-2023
6“Promoting and protecting human rights of all persons and upholding democracy and the respect of the rule of law is the core of Council of Europe work. The protection of rights, safeguarded and guaranteed under the European Convention on Human Rights, applies to all, including persons with disabilities. The new Council of Europe Strategy on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2017–2023 was drafted in 2016 by Council of Europe member States in co-operation with civil society and other stakeholders.”
The history of EU common policies and practices has shown that when adaptability, adjustability and flexibility are missing, then the results are rarely the expected. Especially, when the discussion regarding good practices is about the inclusion and integration of disabled people in society and the labour market, these three key qualities are more than crucial for the success of practices. Consequently, especially within the semi-federal framework of the EU, good practices are the ones which can be transferred smoothly into different contexts and, above all, practices which can be altered and re-adapted into these different contexts.
Within the frame of this module, the BRIDGES partnership has chosen some characteristic good practices from the partner countries. The best way to go through them is as an overview, not as an exhaustive list. Given the scattered structure of support systems in some of the partner countries, one can identify hundreds of other good practices which, possibly, have never been published. Additionally, the Module features best practices from other EU countries.
The National Disability Authority has produced the Disability Equality Training, a short online training module to help staff to deal with customers with disabilities. The module is aimed at public sector staff in Ireland. The training module is open to everyone and it takes one hour to complete. The National Disability Authority states that staff who have attended disability equality training will be able to interact more confidently and more effectively with people who have disabilities and will need an ongoing programme of disability equality training.
Willing Able Mentoring (WAM) Programme is an initiative of AHEAD (Association for Higher Education Access and Disability). WAM is a work placement programme which aims to promote access to the labour market for graduates with disabilities and build the capacity of employers to integrate disability into the mainstream workplace. Participating employers are known as WAM Leaders and they collaborate with WAM to offer mentored, paid, work placements for graduates with disabilities. This partnership brings graduates with disabilities and employers together so that both can benefit from each other and ensure genuine learning opportunities for all. WAM is unique in that it seeks to engage and support employers in order to simultaneously develop the potential of employers and graduates with disabilities. Since 2005, The WAM Programme has provided over 400 placements for graduates with disabilities.
EMPLAY Project, promoted by the Municipality of Cascais. Between 2016 and 2018, 6 partners organizations developed the Employability Tools Project, supported by the European Commission’s Erasmus+ Youth in Action program, within the framework of Strategic Youth Partnerships (Key Action 2 – Cooperation for innovation and the exchange of good practices) – project nº 2016-2-PT02-KA205-003613, with the following objectives:
- Increase young people´s willingness for entrepreneurship opportunities to develop employability and recognition of personal and professional skills;
- Create and develop 4 tools for employability, aimed at people who want to improve their employability and also at technicians who deal with employability issues;
- Contribute to the development of quality in support systems for employability;
- Promote cooperation between different entities form different countries and areas of activity (civil society organizations, companies, public organizations); – Support young people in the development of skills essential to employability.
Thus, the project was created by a group of trainers, community animators, career counselors and project managers, from 6 different organizations form Portugal, Belgium and Italy gathered ideas to build the 4 EMPLAY tools:
- Agenda: An agenda without fixed dates to organize the weeks, with suggested activities, questions, challenges and inspirations, around questions about “who I am” and “what I want to achieve at a professional level”;
- Game: A board game to discuss, think and learn about different dimensions of employability in a fun way (up to 15 players);
- App: A smartphone app (android and iPhone) in which users progress every time they solve challenges to their skills;
- Manual on employability skills: A practical manual to understand how to use the EMPLAY tools in educational or social intervention, which also includes a collection of activities to work employability skills with groups.
The tools can be used by students, people who are working or people looking for a job, as well as employability technicians, animators, social educators, teachers, among others. The national organizations that work with people with disabilities are already developing to work together in order to create the adaptation of the project tools for this target population.
- Project “SIDE – Supporting Innovative Models For Deaf Youth Empowerment”, funded by Erasmus Plus (in partnership with organisations from Austria, Cyprus, Italy and Slovakia), developed a blended learning model based on visual languages/arts aiming at the acquisition of key and professional competences by deaf young people, so as to support their transition from education to work. The learning model included face-to-face non formal training activities (outdoor training, coaching, Improv-theatre) and distance learning activities based on professional didactic modules developed through videos and sign language in a virtual environment.
- Bienal de Arte Contemporáneo organised by the Fundación ONCE, is a cultural event to exhibit works made by artists with disabilities. The project was organised for the first time in Madrid 2006 and has since been repeated multiple times. The Biennale is an attempt both to help artists with disabilities to establish themselves on the market, thus a labour insertion measure, and to normalise the relationships between persons with disabilities and the society at large. The project also takes into account the reality of the art scene and how regular labour insertion measures often would not work in this area, thus the project tries to cover an area that would otherwise be harder to reach.
- Project ZIPP for people with a mental illness: carried out by the Klausenhof Academy on behalf of the Employment Agency. It is aimed at people who have been permanently disabled due to a mental illness and are therefore unable to pursue their previous job and who have become unemployed. This project gives them the opportunity to learn a commercial profession, which they can then practice in a less stressful environment. The main thing is to design the learning process so that it is adapted to the special conditions and requirements of the target group. The trainers are commerce teachers (accounting, purchasing etc.) continuously coached by a psychologist.