Friday, December 5, 2008

Disability Rights

As full citizens, people with disabilities are entitled to equal rights. In their daily lives, they continuously battle exclusion and restriction to their full participation in society, facing discrimination, abuse, and poverty.

There are many types of disabilities and many degrees; visible or hidden; temporary, permanent or unpredictable; cognitive, developmental and many others. Some groups find the following definition helpful. The International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF), defines disability as the outcome of the interaction between a person with an impairment and the environmental and attitudinal barriers one may face.

People with disabilities are entitled to equal access to education and employment, equal rights to parenthood, property ownership, political rights, and legal representation.

Presently, there is no internationally binding convention specifically devoted to the rights of people with disabilities. However, in December 2001, the General Assembly adopted resolution 56/168, establishing a committee to consider proposals for an international convention to protect and promote the rights and dignity of people with disabilities. A treaty on the rights and dignity of people with disabilities would create legally binding human rights obligations specific to the needs and situation of people with disabilities.

A human rights perspective to disability requires society, and especially governments, to actively promote the conditions for all individuals to fully realize their rights. "Reasonable accommodation" (the necessary modifications without a disproportionate burden) must be made to ensure persons with disabilities the enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Accessibility is a major issue for people with mobility impairments, but the concept of universal design can create more opportunities for participation in society. Universal design is inclusive; it sees people with disabilities, older people and children, as part of - not distinct from - society.


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