Tag Archives: PWD Sites

Inclusive Education in Thailand

Access to state education has been guaranteed for all students through the National Educational Act in Thailand in March 16, 1999.

And, since then, the number of students with disabilities accessing education increased from 145,000 to 187,000.

Thailand has also passed the Education Provision for People with Disabilities Act in 2008 that mandates inclusive education.

Cultural barriers and resistance from some head teachers in Thailand remain to be a challenge there, though. For one, the Thais believe in reincarnation. So disability is widely viewed as a person’s failure to lead positive previous lives (this eventually leads some families to feel shame about having a child with disabilities.)

Thailand has only one language decreed to be the country’s only official language and the language of instruction in public schools: standard Thai. With only a minimum of 2,000 baht (approximately £41) to cover the required resources or training expenses of every student, state schools also have “woefully insufficient resources” to implement inclusive education properly.

In her dissertation paper “A Model for Inclusive Schools in Thailand,” Sermsap Vorapanya found out that the idea of inclusive education in Thailand is still in early development. So she suggested providing more training to school professionals through an ongoing process as well as to medical personnel who are involved in the assessment and critical certification processes.

Resource centers should be equipped with materials that support the learning of the students also. Training and intervention agencies should be established in each community because, if not, private parties should deliver services.

Parents need to acquire knowledge and information, too. They themselves should be active to cope with the difficulties of raising children with disabilities.

“…while more steps need to be taken as implementation of inclusion continues, the principals, teachers, parents, education experts, and the people of Thailand have the commitment and strength of determination to make inclusion an integrated part of Thai education and to provide leadership on inclusion to the world.” ~Sermsap Vorapanya

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of TheVJMovement

Inclusive Education in Kenya

Aside from the magic its tourism board asserts, Kenya has provided for the rights and rehabilitation of persons with disabilities in the country. It has paved the way for the establishment of the National Council for Persons with Disabilities and the National Development Fund for Persons with Disabilities, fining anyone who would offend PWDs with up to twenty thousand shillings or to a year of imprisonment.

The Kenya Persons with Disabilities Act 2003 has exempted PWDs as well from paying for the recreational facilities owned or operated by the Government. Materials, articles and equipment, including motor vehicles, could also be exempted from import duty, value added tax, demurrage charges, port charges, and any other government levy if they are modified or designed for PWDs.

In the country’s courts, Kenyan PWDs do not have to pay legal fees. The latter—may they be the victim or the accused—have been entitled to free sign language interpretation, Braille services and physical guide assistance.

All television stations in Kenya shall provide for a sign language inset or sub-titles in all newscasts. All persons providing public telephone services shall install and maintain units for persons with either hearing or visual disabilities.

Kenya’s respect for the PWDs in it started as far back as 1980 when it declared the National Year for People with Disabilities. Its Ministry of Education even initiated the Educational Assessments and Resource Services to improve its services for special education students.

Four years after the Kenya Persons with Disabilities Act 2003 has been passed, the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) was signed. It was ratified the next year and became the basis for the National Kenyan Constitution in recognizing disability rights.

Locally, Kenya has been helped by the United Disabled Persons of Kenya (UDPK) that consists of the Kenya National Association of the Deaf, Kenya Society of the Physically Handicapped, and other organizations. It has appointed a taskforce to review the laws related to PWDs and collect the public views.

Internationally, it has five international organizations to assist PWDs: the Christian Blind Mission (CBM), the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund (DREDF), the Sightsavers, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, and the Leonard Cheshire Disablity.

The CBM Kenya has been working against “blinding trachoma” and aims to eliminate the disease completely by 2019. It was funded by the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust carrying out surgeries, distributing antibiotics, educating communities, and improving environmental conditions to prevent trachoma.

The DREDF, first established in Berkeley, California in 1979, is a legal service center backing up disability rights. It has started the Disability and Media Alliance Project http://d-map.org/ to bring the disability community and the media industry together, and continues to shape the legal and policy strategies needed to promote its vision in the United States and worldwide.

The Sightsavers, on the other hand, believes that 80% of blindness in the world is avoidable. So it has helped the citizens of India, Africa, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Sudan, and Ghana with eye problems.

It has also assisted 13-year-old Flash Odiwuor even though he has another kind of ailment: polio. He was struck down with it and lost the use of both his legs. Only through the Sightsavers’ inclusive education program was he able to go back to school—at the Nyaburi Integrated Primary School, to be exact—along with other Kenyans who can see.

The IFES has more or less the same vision as the DREDF: it aims to empower the underrepresented. But unlike the DREDF that focuses on everything that entails a legal process, the IFES has provided technical assistance to election officials so that everyone can participate in the said political process.

The Leonard Cheshire has pioneered inclusive education strategies for girls with disability in Kenya. It has targeted 2,050 female PWDs in 50 primary schools in the Lake Region.

“I am so happy to be back at school. The headmaster gave me a wheelchair so I can now move around as much as I want.” ~ Flash Odiwuor

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of Luke Sniewski

Bahamas

After it has signed in the UN Convention on PWDs, the Bahamas promulgated the Equal Opportunities Act last November 3, 2014 and January 1, 2016.

Provisions were put into effect during the first implementation phase so that PWDs can obtain medical assistance; access training, counselling, and family services; apply for insurance, credit and lending services; and vote. Television stations were asked to provide sign language insets, closed captioning or sub-titles in all newscasts, educational programs, public notices, national emergencies and national events coverage.

In the second phase, fair treatment was reassured so that PWDs can be on a level pegging with the non-PWDs. Employers with more than 100 employees were mandated to employ at least 1% PWDs. Owners of public buildings were directed to allow free access to PWDs. Items donated to institutions and organizations of or for PWDs were eased off of customs duties and other taxes. The Minister of Finance was authorized to grant incentives to local enterprises that manufacture assistive or adaptive devices for use by PWDs.

Public telephone services were adjusted for the hearing and visually impaired. The Supreme Court Rules Committee was empowered to exempt PWDs from paying filing fees and provide assisted services to enable a PWD’s participation before the Court.

In December 2014, The Bahamas also established the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities comprised of 15 commissioners from the community of persons with disabilities themselves. It was to (1) ensure that the provisions of our Act are carried out and (2) monitor, evaluate and ensure the country’s compliance with the International Convention on the Right of Persons with Disabilities. The Bahamas has also marked October as the National Disability Employment Awareness month, awarding families of PWDs a disability allowance.

As of 2010, there are 5,250 male PWDs and 4,888 female PWDs in The Bahamas. Only one per cent of those 10,138 PWDs, though, are registered with the Department of Social Services.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” ~ Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of the ZNSNetwork

Help in Netherlands

Twelve organizations in the Netherlands have been taking care of persons with disabilities (PWDs) in the country since the 90s.

The first was the Soft Tulip Foundation in 1991. It aimed to deliver rehabilitation to multiple disabled children, elderly, people with mental health problems, and people with learning disabilities.

The next year, the European Co-operation in Anthroposophical Curative Education and Social Therapy (ECCE) has engaged about 400 parents’ associations, professional organisations and centres for vocational training. It believed that “all human beings have the right to offer their contribution to society through work.”

For those afflicted with spinal cord injury, the Dutch-Flemish Paraplegia Society (NVDG), was created in 1993 to (1) encourage cooperation between individuals, (2) engage in spinal cord injury rehabilitation in the Netherlands and Flanders, (3) exchange ideas and experiences with people from other countries who deal with spinal cord injury rehabilitation; and (4) know more scientific work on spinal cord injury rehabilitation.

Representation of the poor PWDs in the world had been the goal in mind of the Dutch Coalition on Disability and Development when it was formed in 2001. It had a “twin-track approach” then to strengthen the position of people with disabilities in Southern countries: point mainstream development organisations toward incorporating PWDs in their development programmes and policies on one hand, and (2) call for specific support for some persons with disabilities through policy development on the other. Both were envisioned so PWDs in the country will be fully included on an equal basis with others.

Six years after, The Coalition for Inclusion was established for people with mental, physical or mental disability as well as the elderly who are experiencing temporary or long-term restrictions. It wished to promote an inclusive society.

Other organizations for PWDs in the Netherlands are Dedicon, Everyone in, Dutch Association of Healthcare Providers for People with Disabilities (De Vereniging Gehandicaptenzorg Nederland), Jopla, Visio, Karuna Foundation, and MEE NL .

“If I regarded my life from the point of view of the pessimist, I should be undone. I should seek in vain for the light that does not visit my eyes and the music that does not ring in my ears. I should beg night and day and never be satisfied. I should sit apart in awful solitude, a prey to fear and despair. But since I consider it a duty to myself and to others to be happy, I escape a misery worse than any physical deprivation.” – Helen Keller

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of Brian Calligy

Netherlands

Change has already come in The Netherlands.

The social security system in this country is designed to encourage persons with disabilities (PWDs) here to keep working and earn their keep. As a result, disability rates have gone down from 100,000 in 2000 to 21,000 in 2006. The disability risk has decreased, too: from 1.55 in 2000 to 0.46 in 2006.

Employers, on the other hand, are required to monitor their sick employees’ sick leave; hold a sick worker’s job open for two years; develop, finance, and implement plans for rehabilitation; pay for certain medical treatments; make workplace accommodations; and find new jobs for the workers they no longer have a commensurable employment to give. They must contract with private companies in fulfilling these tasks in exchange of incentives a “differentiated system of contributions” will bring.

Article 1 of the Dutch Constitution prohibits discrimination on any grounds. So The Netherlands has taken precautionary measures to curb unnecessary medical treatment. It has invested and improved the cooperation of the occupational safety and health care providers and the medical care providers to, in effect, prevent work-related health conditions and promote reintegration.

Stipulated on December 1, 2003, the Act on Equal Treatment of the Disabled and Chronically Ill People has banned making distinctions in the recruitment of people in the country, may they be with disabilities or not. The law also gives disabled people the right to the adaptations necessary to enable them to participate fully in society.

Care, support, and treatment for PWDs here are funded through public health insurance1. Accessibility is also mandated2 and “special benefits” are given3. PWDs here have also somewhere to go to if they need help in re-entering the job market4.

The Netherlands is also “efficient” in screening “applicants’ to avoid providing benefits to healthy recipients and denying benefits to unhealthy applicants5. A citizen can only be marked as “fully disabled” if their impairments are terminal, if their “theoretical loss of income” is greater than 80%, if they require institutionalization, or if they are already in “steep decline”6.

“When you hear the word ‘disabled,’ people immediately think about people who can’t walk or talk or do everything that people take for granted. Now, I take nothing for granted. But I find the real disability is people who can’t find joy in life and are bitter.” ~ Teri Garr

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of Kanaal van Ambassadeur2009 

1Exceptional Medical Expenses Act (AWBZ)

2Act on Facilities for the Disabled

3Disablement Benefits Act (WAO); Self-Employed Persons Disablement Benefits Act (WAZ); Disablement Assistance Act for Handicapped Young Persons (WAJONG)

4Disability Reintegration Act (REA)

5Source: Enrica Croda, Jonathan Skinner, and Laura Yasaitis, “An International Comparison of the Efficiency of Government Disability Programs” (Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research, 2013), pp. 1, 29

6Source: “Work and Income According to the Labor Capacity Act,” Dutch Social Insurance Institute (WIA), May 11, 2015, and personal correspondence with Carla van Deaursen, senior advisor, UWV, May 18, 2015

Israel

In Israel, persons with disabilities (PWDs) are given “financial’ importance.

They are treated as “work disabled persons” since their earning capacity was reduced due to a work-related injury. They are “paid” every 28th of the month through their respective bank accounts or to the kibbutz or cooperative moshav. The maximum work disability pension per month is NIS 32,8391, and would change every January 1st of the succeeding year in accordance with changes in the Consumer Price Index.

Israel has also established a commission—the Laron Committee—to “examine the integration of disabled people into the job market. And through its recommendations, the National Insurance Law was amended! Among of the points had been about the overall amount received from working and from pension vis-à-vis the amount received from pension alone: income shall increase the more a PWD earns from working. In case the PWD has to stop from working, though, the latter will still receive the disability pension as he or she did before without additional examinations.

Anyone receiving a general disability pension, attendance allowance, benefit for disabled child, mobility allowance, compensation for victims of ringworm, or compensation to polio victims from the National Insurance Institute (NII) is entitled to receive a “disability card.” It can be issued according to the PWD’s language preference—in either Hebrew or English—and can be used for seven years.

The NII will also be the one to determine the degree of disability of a PWD. For instance, if the doctor established an impairment involving the back and an impairment involving the leg, 20% will be allotted   for the back impairment while 8% for the leg impairment for a total of 28%.

“When speaking of disabilities, the blind and their needs are most often used as an example. It is deceivingly simplistic since accessibility is something most of the population can benefit from.” ~ Marcus Österberg

1 As of Jan 01, 2014

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of ערוץ של נציבות שוויון זכויות לאנשים עם מוגבלות

Puerto Rico: a safer haven

What’s better about Puerto Rico is its affinity for persons with disabilities (PWDs) in the country.

Its residents can go to 15 social security disability field offices, three disability adjudication and review offices, or to a disability determination service office if they have a disability benefit claim to make or a decision of the Social Security Administration (SSA) to hear about.

It has “health disability programs” such as the Puerto Rico Deaf-Blind Parents Association, Puerto Rico Department of Education’s Vocational Education for Students with Disabilities, Puerto Rico Department of Health’s Mental Retardation Program, Programs for People with Developmental Disabilities, Puerto Rico Developmental Disabilities Council, and Puerto Rico Vocational Rehabilitation Administration’s Rehab Center for the Blind.

There is also the Puerto Rico Department of Education’s Special Education that provides assistive technology services. Within it is the Special Education Advisory Committee, which advises the Secretary of Education on issues related to vision services for children and youth with disabilities; and the Parent Outreach Office, which guides parents on special education services.

The Puerto Rico Department of Health’s Diabetes Control and Prevention Program provides information on diabetes, the importance of weight reduction and physical activity, and smoking cessation on its website. The Puerto Rico Department of Health’s Division of Maternal, Child, and Adolescent Health, Asthma Program is currently administering a project that could eventually lead to a state plan for an Asthma Monitoring System throughout the country. This state plan will cover seven areas: alliances, asthma surveillance system, promotion and education, public policy, environment, accessibility to health services, and evaluation.

Another division—the Puerto Rico Department of Health’s Division of Maternal, Child, and Adolescent Health, Children with Special Health Care Needs Section—promotes, develops and implements strategies that contribute to the rehabilitation of the pediatric population (ages 0 to 21 years old) with  disabilities.

The Puerto Rico Governor’s Office for Elderly Affairs Services has six programs that provide support to people with disabilities themselves, their families, and their caregivers. These are the Senior Companion Program, Family Caregiver Support Program, State Health Insurance Assistance Program, Employment Promotion and Volunteer Services Program, Share-a-Grandparent Project, and PATH Transportation Service.

Giving psychiatric treatment and rehabilitation services is the Puerto Rico Mental Health and Anti-Addiction Services Administration. Imparting occupational counseling is the Puerto Rico Office of the Ombudsman for Persons with Disabilities.

The Puerto Rico University Center for Excellence on Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD) offers community training and technical assistance particularly to those suffering from developmental disabilities. The Puerto Rico Vocational Rehabilitation Administration provides—as its name suggests—vocational rehabilitation services including  evaluation services, referrals, physical and mental restoration, work licenses, and rehabilitation technology, among others.

PWDs in Puerto Rico also have a “watchdog” overseeing them. This is the Protection and Advocacy agency (P&A) that provides free advocacy services on legal issues related to assistive technology, health care, special education and voting. It is also the one assigned to investigate reports of abuse or neglect on PWDs, serving as the island’s Client Assistance Program.

“There is a plan and a purpose, a value to every life, no matter what its location, age, gender or disability.” ~ Sharron Angle

Serbia, at your service!

It has been on the news lately: theatres in Serbia will no longer be off limits for the deaf. The change will happen on February 29 so that all people with auditory impairments in Serbia—in Belgrade, particularly—will be able to enjoy the plays that will be simultaneously translated into sign language in Zvezdara. “Theatre is seeing and hearing,” its artistic director was reported saying. “If you ‘turn off’ the sound, there is a far lesser impact.”

Serbia is a militarily neutral state. It has an upper-middle economy enriched by its service, industrial, and agricultural sectors. Aside from the Serbs comprising 82.86% of the country’s populace, there are 40 other nationalities living side by side in the country such as the Hungarians, Bosniaks, Roma, Yugoslavs, Croatians, Montenegrins, Albanians, Slovaks, Vlachs, Romanians, Macedonians, Bulgarians, Bunjevci, Muslims, Rusyns, Slovenes, Ukrainians, Gorani, Germans, Russians, and Czechs.

According to the last census in 2002, the Republic of Serbia has 7,498,001 inhabitants (excluding Kosovo and Metohija). It has no official figure on how many of its populace has disabilities but Serbia guarantees all of its citizens to have the same rights and duties and enjoy full ethnic equality as the other.

Proof of this is its law on professional rehabilitation and employment of persons with disabilities. Not only does it aim to promote rehabilitation and employment, it also ensures gender equality among PWDs. The details, expenses and criteria just have to be prescribed by and in the mutual agreement of the minister in charge of employment issues, minister in charge of health issues and minister in charge of pension and disability insurance issues.

“To tie a person down and leave him in bed for life is tantamount to torture.” ~Eric Rosenthal

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of UNICEF CEESIS

Austria

A year after the Austrian Federal Government passed its Disability Concept, integrative schooling for disabled and non-disabled children during the first eight years of schooling has been thought of in the School Act passed in 1993 and 1996.

The Austrian Federal Constitution was even amended to protect persons with disability (PWDs) in the country against discrimination!

These being the case, PWDs and non-PWDs alike are guaranteed equal treatment in Austria. The Federal Ministry for Social Administration has also thought of the rehabilitation concept, which dealt primarily with issues of rehabilitation, advice for disabled people and the principles of “sheltered workshops.”

In Austria, “persons who are threatened with a permanent and substantial physical, mental or emotional impairment in an area of social relationship in the foreseeable future are also regarded as disabled.” These social relationships are child-rearing, education, employment, other occupations, communication, living and leisure activities.

“Institutional stays” are not encouraged in Austria; pensions or care benefits would be only approved once all forms of rehabilitation have been exhausted. There is even a central appliances advice bureau set up by the Provincial Invalid Office for Vienna, Lower Austria and Burgenland to maintain comprehensive, computerized documentation on all the appliances available in the marketplace for disabled people. The Austrian Standardisation Institute would be the one responsible with the technical issues through “a permanent specialist standards committee” that consists of experts, representatives of organisations for disabled people, and the appliance advice centre.

Austria believes that “integration into society can therefore be most likely to succeed if disabled and non-disabled people learn to live together right from early childhood.” As such, the Federal Government intends to (1) replace tax allowances for disabled people with deductible amounts or direct cash benefits; (2) provide the national fund for special assistance for disabled people with adequate financing; and (3) ensure that disabled people have access to information and counselling.

“Disability is one of the many forms in which human life occurs: it should be accepted as such and the people concerned should not be excluded in any way from participating in society.” ~ Federal Ministry for Labour and Social Affairs in co-operation with Österreichische Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Rehabilitation

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of UniCredit Bank Austria AG

Poland

Eight years from now, the country bordered by Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, and Russia will be hosting an “event that redefines handball” with the nation of Sweden.

Will the persons with disabilities (PWDs) in Poland be able to participate? How are they being treated there?

Only after the 1978 Census was the Medical Board for Disability and Employment able to legally classify the number of PWDs in Poland. It was totaled to 2, 485, 0011 or 7.1% of the entire population.

Last 2009,  the Association of Friends of Integration together with the Administrative Office of the country organized a competition to find out which building “are best suited” for PWDs. Those that won were the Opera House in Wroclaw, the Town Hall in Dabrowa Gornicza, the Public Library in Koszalin, the Sport and Exhibition Hall in Gdynia, and the Cable Car to Kasprowy Wierch in Zakopane.

Then last May 9, 2013, the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) launched a “crucial component” that would (1) ensure that PWDs are able to participate fully and effectively in society on an equal basis with others and (2) address and assess the needs of PWDs better.

A bill was filed in its Senate last April 18, 2014 “to boost welfare benefits for parents who leave their jobs to care for their disabled children.” The latter will receive $431 by 2016.

Social security in Poland includes insurances in retirement, disability, sickness, and accident. All employees in the country are covered by the compulsory pension and disability pension insurance. They may continue the insurance on a voluntary basis after it expires but not if they already have a title to another form of insurance.

Its surroundings are “user-friendly” to PWDs. Entrances to its establishments are stairless. Doorframes were regulated to be at least 80 cm wide so that a wheelchair can be taken inside a room. All sounds and alarms must be audible, all stairs must be rough, and all doors and signs must be lettered or numbered.

Tourism For All is a website that lists these attractions to PWDs based on the type of restrictions such as wheelchairs, prosthesis, or crutches. Another website does the same thing for the PWDs of the Kaszubian District.

Poland also has activation workshops, physical rehabilitation centres offering spa treatments, forms of active and passive recreation, and group bonding events. The gyms, fitness clubs, swimming pools, and water parks here offer discounts and special assistance. The Polish Association of Disability in Sports has the program “Start,” which aims to organize and develop the common physical culture, sport, the rehabilitation of movement, tourism and recreation for PWDs.

A travel agency in Krakow would organize excursions for PWDs to Europe. Wooden platforms have been laid in the beaches in Wladyslawowo, Cetniewo, Ustka, Sopot and Mielno. In Swinoujscie, Dziwnow, and Pobierowo, the descents to the beach are gentle so that PWDs can still move around.  In Rewa there is a pier for wheelchair users and Gdynia has a playground that includes a sandpit with raised edges and a swing in the form of a basket.

Poland signed and ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2012. About 3.8% of the Polish population can work there now.

“Funds for social benefits, especially for the young generation, need to stop being considered a wasted expenditure. This is smart money. If we can improve someone’s health condition, providing for him in the future will be much less expensive. Moreover, if we can educate these children and help them become independent, we will have a good citizen and taxpayer in the future.” ~ Broda-Wysocki

1 Based on The Polish National Census in 1978.

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of polcham