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Human Rights in Ukraine. Website of the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group
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20. RIGHTS OF THE PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES

   


[1]

General overview

On December16, 2009 the Supreme Rada of Ukraine ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.(Hereinafter – the Convention) and its Facultative Protocol[2], and on March 6, 2010 these treaties became valid in the territory of Ukraine.  

The Convention supplements other international treaties on human rights. It does not stipulate any new/specific rights for the persons with disabilities. Mainly the Convention stresses the state’s obligation to adhere to these rights and ensure equal access to them for the persons with disabilities. 

The ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Facultative Protocol by Ukraine implies introducing cardinal changes to the existing approaches to disability, i.e. to current understanding of “disability” as a “pathology of society” and not as a person’s “imperfection” due to his/her health condition.  

The amended Law of Ukraine “On Basics of Social Protection for the Disabled in Ukraine” describes a person with disability as follows:

«Article 2. A disabled person is a person with consistent disorder of the body functions, which, in the course of interaction with the environment, can lead to the restriction of his/her activities; therefore the state is obliged to create the conditions which would enable that person to exercise his/her rights in the same way as other citizens and to ensure his/her social protection”.

This definition, however, does not guarantee its realization in actual life. Lack of clarity in the definition of “disability“engenders the situation when medical model of “disability”, addressing only health indicators, is still applied in Ukraine. As a result not only the existing external obstacles are not removed, but the new barriers, stereotyping and segregation are promoted.

In their Alternative Report to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities[3] non-governmental organizations underline lack of integrated approach in the development of relevant policies. More often than not the policies with regards to persons with disabilities are considered to be the responsibility of a specific ministry or department, namely the Ministry of Social Policy and State Service for the Disabled. Other ministries and departments in their operation fail to take into consideration the rights of the disabled and refuse to be responsible for their implementation.   

After Convention ratification the state undertook several steps in the direction of introducing the Convention standards into the national legislation, although many laws still remain mere declarations and are aimed at ensuring social assistance and not the observance of rights of the persons with disabilities. The adequate approach should address all the areas of life and activity of the disabled, their full incorporation into the life of society.   

The Alternative Report also points at the absence of departmental control over the implementation of the normative and legislative acts.

The introduction of changes in compliance with the Convention standards does not mean that the officials would adhere to them. Corruption, scarce funding, lack of the public servants’ responsibility create new challenges and new needs with respect to relevant services, economic relief and exercising of rights of the disabled persons.

In 2012 the State Target Program “National Action Plan for the realization of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities till the year 2020” was adopted.[4]

This program, however, will remain a mere declaration if it is not supported by due monitoring, funding and clearly defined responsibilities of the parties.

The practical operation of the non-governmental organizations shows that information on the implementation of state target programs aimed at resolving important social issues, including the ensuring of the disabled rights, is not disseminated and does not reach public at large. There is no governmental monitoring which would analyze the results of the programs’ implementation, there are no surveys with the participation of the programs’ beneficiaries, and, therefore, their efficiency cannot be evaluated. The social programs are funded from the state and local budgets, as well as from the other sources. Nevertheless, it is extremely difficult to get information on the implementation of any program, as the respective data are not publicized on the official sites.[5]

According to official data as of 01.01.2011 2 709 982 persons with disabilities reside in Ukraine.[6]

Statistical data collection with regards to the disabled in Ukraine is not coordinated with the social model of disability and is deficient.

Lack of reliable statistical data with regards to the disabled does not allow for developing practical policy or its efficient implementation.  

The rights of the persons with disabilities are still violated – especially, the right to education, health care, employment, participation in political and cultural life, access to justice, to information etc.

The state does not introduce any measures aimed at guaranteeing due respect to the persons with disabilities, cultivating tolerant attitude towards them. 

Inadequate use of the universal design principles and of the sign-language is just one example of the problems in the implementation of the law protecting the rights of persons with disabilities.

In 2011 the changes reflecting the language and standards used in the Convention, were introduced into the Law “On Basics of Social Protection for the Disabled in Ukraine” and the Law “On the Rehabilitation of the Disabled in Ukraine”.[7] In particular, the changes stipulated the use of the definitions “discrimination on the basis of disability”, “reasonable adjustments” and “universal design” in compliance with the Convention.

Meanwhile, the concept of inter-sector approach to, let us say, universal design, is non-existent in Ukraine, despite the fact that the approach, based on the human rights and oriented at the whole society, must be reflected in all national and regional programs.   

“The use of sign-language as the language of persons with impaired hearing and means of communication and learning, protected by the state”[8] is a necessary precondition for the development of the inclusive society. However, today we are facing the lack of subtitles or sign-language interpretation on TV, in the movie-theaters or on videos, despite the fact that this service is guaranteed by the Ukrainian Law. 

The real value of this guarantee was demonstrated by the non-compliance with court decision on the procedure for the use of sign-language. 

Court against the discrimination of the disabled or how the state takes care of the persons with impaired hearing.

The Cabinet of Ministersfailure to comply with the law made a deaf person file a claim with the court. In his claim the man demanded that court classifies the inertia of officials who failed to comply with the said requirement as illegal, and obliges the Government to adopt it. The court passed a ruling in favor of the deaf claimant. The judges ruled that the Cabinet of Ministers neglected their responsibility stipulated by the Law. The Appellate Court supported their colleagues from the court of the first instance and once again highlighted the officials’ inertia. Currently not only the Law, but also the court ruling obliges the Cabinet of Ministers to put an end to the discrimination of the persons with impaired hearing. However, it looks like public officials do not take any heed of these decisions, as they are further disregarded. President, on the other hand, issued another instruction (Order 588/2011) to ensure access to mass media for such persons by way of subtitling and implementing sign-language interpretation in news and theme programs, movies and videos. So far the issue has not been resolved; persons with impaired hearing still face the problems with respect to the access to information.[9]

Besides, the state does not encourage private businesses providing services in the format acceptable and affordable for persons with disabilities.[10]

At the state policy level the principles of respect, independence and self-sufficiency of the persons with disabilities are not promoted at all.

The situation on public means of transportation is but one example of such disrespect. A disabled person buying a train ticket at the same price as the rest of passengers, cannot use the services in full scope.[11] Traveling for 8-10 hours by train disabled passenger cannot use the bathroom or other services, which under the law in force should be available to this category of passengers. According to official data, only 19 train coaches in Ukraine currently have bathrooms and compartments equipped for the disabled persons. It is a paradoxical situation, as the number of potential users amounts to hundreds passengers.

The rights of young persons with disabilities staying in the public institutions of social protection are also violated. After turning 18, or, sometimes, 21 (in cases stipulated by law), young people with disabilities are transferred to the mental institutions for the elderly or the disabled under the auspices of the Ministry of Social Policy. In these institutions they are condemned to total isolation for the rest of their lives. The Ukrainian practice of “placing” young disabled persons into the public care institutions of closed type prevents their inclusion, as they are kept in separation from the other members of society and creates barriers for the exercising of their rights. They become dependent on the system and cannot find their proper place in the society as its full-fledge members, with due access to education, employment and independent living.  

The institutions fail to meet the UN and European standards for general care and treatment of persons with disabilities. After Ukraine became independent, neither state reports nor monitoring results with respect to the conditions in the said institutions and adherence to human rights of the disabled there, have been made public.  There was no special report prepared by the Ombudsman on human rights on these issues. Under the Article 16 of the Convention, the state “ensures efficient monitoring by independent bodies of all the institutions and programs offering services to the people with disabilities”. This requirement supplements the Article 33 of the Convention.

“That is really a horrendous and complicated archaic system we inherited from the soviet regime. The main culprit is Ukrainian independent state, which till now has no social policy at all – the Ministry of Social Policy is there, but the social policy does not exist!” (Executive secretary of the Association of the Ukrainian Psychiatrists).[12]

Conditions in which the patients in mental institutions are kept should be evaluated separately in each individual case. At the same time, all the institutions have similar characteristics – they are closed for the public inspection…(Executive secretary of the Association of the Ukrainian Psychiatrists).

The rights of the inmates of the Ukrainian mental institutions are violated systematically, conclude the members of the non-governmental organization “Committee against organized crime and corruption”. These violations include beatings, forced labor, use of prohibited medical drugs. Recently the law-enforcement officials filed a claim on the fact of beating which resulted in death of an inmate of psycho-neurological institution in Odessa oblast. The human rights activists argue that it is not an isolated case of cruel treatment of mental patients.[13]

Deinstitutionalization and setting up of the support network for the independent living of persons with disabilities are not among the first priorities for the state today.[14] These issues are addressed by the non-governmental organizations only.  

The non-governmental organizations of the persons with disabilities reveal systematic violations of the Article 3 of the Convention, i.e. respect of a person’s dignity, self-sufficiency, and, in particular, freedom to make independent choices.

The state does not either promote or implement the principle of including persons with disabilities into social life. Persons with disabilities are not perceived as equal participants of the social and economic development of the country; they are separated from political, cultural life, education and health care.  

The annual Presidential Report to the Supreme Rada of Ukraine and Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine on the young people’s situation in Ukraine (2012 р)[15] does not contain any analysis as to the issues concerning young adults with disabilities. This age group of population seems non-existent. Setting up its policy the state disregards the needs of the young people with disabilities, thus excluding them from social life. Lack of statistical data on this age group, neglect of its problems proves that current state policy and system are by no means inclusive. 

The problem of separation of the persons with disabilities from the health care system is another problem. In fact, medical institutions and services are physically inaccessible for this category of population. It is obvious discrimination due to the disability. Existing comprehensive system of social protection does not cover all the users and is inefficient (lack of accurate statistics, absence of integrated services, lack of awareness concerning available programs of social support etc).  

It is noteworthy that the state does not monitor the observance of the disabled rights by private sector.

Thus, the monitoring of social infrastructure components (hotels, hostels, sport facilities etc) carried out within the frame of the international project by UEFA and National Assembly of the Disabled of Ukraine “Football without borders”(2012) demonstrated inefficiency of the state control mechanism in enforcing modern construction norms and regulations in the new developments and refurbishments of the existing structures.  It makes access to the objects of public use virtually impossible for the persons with disabilities. Noteworthy, the hotel owners received tax relief from the state as an incentive to build and start operation of the hotel complexes. [16].

ATM available for public use remain inaccessible for the persons with disabilities. They are placed in such a way that a person on a wheelchair cannot use keys and buttons on it; ATM options are shown on a display, so that a blind person or one with impaired vision cannot read them. The architectural design of over 80% of all banks makes them inaccessible[17].

Right to education

The right to education is guaranteed by the Article 53 of the Constitution of Ukraine[18] and legislation in force[19]. All these laws, however, were passed before the UN Convention on the Rights of the Persons with Disabilities has been ratified by Ukraine, and, therefore, do not meet its main provisions.

Today, the law uses various definitions and terms: “children and young adults with disabilities”, “children and young adults with special educational needs”, “children in need of adjustment of physical/mental development”, “persons with physical and mental defects”, “persons with physical limitations”.  None of these definitions gives a clue to the understanding of disability from the social model point of view and, hence, complicates the fulfillment of the international obligations of Ukraine.

Following the Convention ratification non-governmental organizations drafted legislative-normative changes supporting the implementation of the inclusive model in education. They were reflected in the Cabinet of Ministers’ of Ukraine Order “On approving action plan with regards to introducing inclusive and integrated education in the comprehensive educational establishments till  the year 2012”, №1482-р. of 03.12.2009; Concept for the development of the inclusive education in Ukraine; Order of the Ministry of Education and Science; Young People and Sports of Ukraine № 912 of 01.10.2010; Law of Ukraine “On introducing changes into the legal acts regulating comprehensive secondary and preschool education ( concerning the organization of the educational and training process) № 2442 – VI of 06.07. 2010; the Cabinet of Ministers’ of Ukraine Resolution “On introducing inclusive education in comprehensive secondary educational establishments” №872 of 15.08 2011[20] and others.

Today it is difficult to collect statistical data concerning the number of children with disabilities and accessibility of high quality education for them at their place of residence, as these issues fall under the terms of reference of different Ministries -  Ministry of Education and Science; Young People and Sports of Ukraine; Ministry of Health, Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine. The majority of children with disabilities are educated in the special boarding-type schools.

Non-governmental organizations point to the lack of departmental control over the realization of right to education with regards to the disabled persons and non-compliance with the law in force stipulating inclusive education.

The Ministry of Education and Science Order “On carrying out monitoring study of the inclusive education implementation in Ukraine” № 898 of 22.09.2010 reads in p. 1.5. “Based on the results of each monitoring phase prepare summarized statistical data (The Institute of the Innovative Technologies is responsible for this part) and the evaluation of learning content (Ministry of Education and Science is responsible).  Statistical data never appeared on the Institute of the Innovative Technologies site; same applies to the information concerning the educational content on the site of Ministry of Education and Science, Young People and Sports.[21]

 Article 15 of the Cabinet of Ministers’ of Ukraine Order “On approving action plan with regards to introducing inclusive and integrated education in the comprehensive educational establishments till the year 2012”, №1482-р. of 03.12.2009 concerning the setting up of “unobstructed access for the children in need of physical/mental development adjustment” to the buildings and facilities of general education with inclusive and integrated education is not fulfilled.

Separation of children with disabilities from education.

Only 55% of children and teenagers with physical or mental disability attend schools. Totally in Ukraine as of September 2010, 28 623 children of school age (6–18 years) with physical or mental disability did not attend school regularly. [22]

According to data provided by the Ministry of Education and Science, Young People and Sports of Ukraine 11% of educational establishments are fully accessible for children with special educational needs, while 39 % are partially accessible. The Ministry of Education and Science, Young People and Sports of Ukraine itself is totally inaccessible for persons with disabilities due to the architectural design of the building.

Meanwhile, first deputy of the Minister of Education and Science; Young People and Sports of Ukraine, speaking at the Parliamentary hearings “Education in rural areas: crisis tendencies and ways of overcoming them” on  15.08.2012, stated that “between the years 2009 and 2011 the number of preschool educational establishments in rural areas increased by 384 and now amounts to 9216 kindergartens… Kindergartens of new, state- of –the- art designs also opened in rural areas”.[23] For the year 2012 an unprecedented sum of 352 million UAH, including 20 million UAH for the school-buses for children with special needs was allocated. It will make possible the purchase of over 900 school-buses and over 40 specialized school-buses - the same number of buses has been purchased over the whole duration of the program. Therefore the need for the transportation means will be completely satisfied over the years 2012–2013. This approach is the result of well-planned governmental policy.”  

Consequently, the question arises – who will be transported and where by the aforementioned Ministry, if schools are inaccessible due to their architectural design?  Lack of understanding of disability issues, absence of uniform educational policy leads to wasteful use of funds and increase in educational costs for persons with disabilities.

New educational facilities are built without any heed of the governmental construction norms, so that later they need additional costs for reconstructions; additional funds are allocated for the transportation of “normal” children and children with “special needs”; computers are being purchased without any consideration to the needs of the blind students. Lack of adjustment in the school system leads to isolation of the children with disabilities, their separation from the system and their further incapacity to integrate into society. We witness “planned” violation of the children’s rights.

In 2011 a specialized National Report “Education for persons with disabilities in Ukraine” was compiled. Unfortunately it was never published on the official sites of the respective ministry and departments; neither was it ever made public. This report, although prepared after the Convention ratification, failed to reflect the essence of policy with regards to education for persons with disabilities, its priorities and further development.   

Focus-groups, surveys, visits to the educational establishments within the frame of the study, organized by the NGOs, helped to identify the main obstacles the children with disabilities come across in their efforts to get preschool or secondary education: children’s stay in the special institutions seems to be the only option available for this category; properly trained teachers, capable of teaching children with disabilities are scarce; architectural inaccessibility of the facilities and structures prevent children from obtaining the same level of knowledge as “regular” children; insufficient collaboration between special and regular schools; lack of support (appropriate services); insufficient number or total lack of learning materials aimed at children with different nosologies (i.e. children with mental retardation); lack of programs adapted for specific needs of children with different nosologies; lack of uniform monitoring system in acceptance of children with disabilities to schools and their subsequent graduation.[24]

Discrimination of children and young adults with disabilities in the exercising of their right to education definitely is in place in Ukraine – they are rejected by comprehensive schools or higher educational establishments on the grounds of their disabilities.  

Current policy in the area of education for persons with disabilities does not meet provisions which take human rights into consideration. Lack of understanding of disability as diversity results in the fact that today the educational system in Ukraine bears no responsibility in ensuring the right of persons with disabilities to education and cannot provide for the exercising of this right.  

Rights of the disabled women in Ukraine

As of today no state policy addressing the rights of disabled women in line with the Convention standards has been developed in Ukraine. In the state report to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities there is no mention of compliance with the Article 6 of the Convention, which guarantees full and equal realization of human rights to the disabled women. Unfortunately, ensuring and exercising of rights by disabled women at the state level has not been studied even after the Convention ratification. The analysis of the disabled women situation in several Ukrainian regions has been performed by NGOs of persons with disabilities, specifically by the National Assembly of the Disabled of Ukraine.  

The State target program “National plan of action for the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities“till the year 2020 mentions no action plan aimed at the implementation of the Article 6 of the Convention.

The Ukrainian Constitution and Law guarantee the women’s rights. The Law of Ukraine “On ensuring equal rights and opportunities for men and women” № 2866-IV[25] of 8.09.2005 formulates principles and provisions concerning equal rights and opportunities for men and women. Nevertheless all legislative-normative acts aimed at safeguarding women’s rights, ignore the need to ensure the observance of the disabled women’s rights.  

Girls and women with disabilities are often discriminated and cannot exercise their rights. It is especially true as far with regards to women with mental and psychological disorders. They are kept in public care institutions or in the families, where they are subject to violence, rape and cruel treatment and have no levers to defend their rights.

There are no available official data concerning violence against women with disabilities, and it is a cause for concern for the non-governmental organizations defending the rights of the disabled. The Law of Ukraine “On domestic violence prevention”[26] does not offer any special provisions with regards to the women with disabilities. The interests of the said group of population are also disregarded in the crisis centers set up by state administrations on the motion of the authorized executive bodies. No public awareness campaign on these issues has ever been held.  

Women with disabilities practically have no say in the decision-making processes, are not represented in the bodies of executive or legislative power. According to the official data in 2012 there were only 32 women among 450 deputies to the Supreme Rada, and not a single disabled woman who would lobby the interests of this group of population. In the whole territory of Ukraine there is only one woman-member of a city council on a wheelchair. There are no official data as to the involvement of women with disabilities in public service, executive bodies of power, education or health care. 

Girls and women with disabilities are not properly informed with respect to the issues of reproductive health and family planning, gender and disability. Current state policy does not target this group as its first priority. 

“The list of rehabilitation services is in place, but it does not differentiate between men and women, despite the fact that women need special care and attention in getting rehabilitation services. Does it mean that a disabled person is sexless creature?!”

The National Assembly of the Disabled of Ukraine points out that no professional psychological or medical consulting is offered to women with various types of disabilities. Forbidding architectural design of hospital buildings, low quality of health care services do not allow women with disabilities to use these services at the same level as other women or to realize their right to start a family and become a mother. Medical personnel are poorly informed about the needs of women with disabilities.

According to the results of the monitoring carried out in 2011 by the “Berehynya” non-governmental organization (AR of Crimea), women with disabilities face serious complications in obtaining health care services. 65% of women with disabilities visit out-patient clinic less than once in a year; 11% prefer self-treatment; 13,3% of women with disabilities mentioned inappropriate attitude and language of physicians; 18,9% of physicians stated that examination of such women causes certain difficulties; 76% of women mentioned absence of elevator and usual location of the gynecologist’s office on upper stories of the building; 100% of women with disabilities are not content with the level of available medical services in their area or city.[27]

The right of girls and women with disabilities to health care is violated in Ukraine.   

Not a single women’s health clinic has a ramp for the wheelchairs or an entrance accessible for the disabled; adequate medical equipment to serve the women with loco- motor system problems.

According to the data collected by Luhansk“AMI-SKHID”NGO sightless women are not able to find their way around in the clinics without an escort, as the needs of the blind are not taken into consideration; women hard of hearing find it difficult to communicate with physicians.

The delivery wards with their entrances, rooms, toilets and lack of elevators are completely out of reach for this group of population.[28]

Moreover, the state does not pay due attention to the problems of disabled mothers bringing up healthy children, or families bringing up children with disabilities. No professional psychological consulting is offered either to women with disabilities or to families bringing up girls with disabilities. It sets up additional barriers for the integration of girls and women with disabilities into community. 

The rights of women with disabilities to respect, family life, independent living and inclusion into society are violated.

Children’s hospitals are inaccessible due to their architectural design. A paraplegic mom on a wheelchair has to seek external assistance every time she needs to take her child to a doctor. At the time of a visit she waits outside, communicating with the doctor by phone.

Kindergartens and schools are equally inaccessible due to their architectural design.  A disabled mom cannot attend teachers-parents meeting or school celebration; has no way to communicate with teachers, which is extremely detrimental for both mom’s and child’s psychological state. A child eventually gets used to the fact that the mother is excluded from participating in the school life. As a result some kids develop complexes.   .[29]

Some families suffer from lack of understanding. Parents of a disabled daughter do not see any opportunities for her development and fail to guide her in her studies and further employment (it applies to the girls with motion problems, severely impaired vision or hearing, developmental problems etc). The families are stigmatized as “second-rate” (inferior) and are in bad need of legal, psychological and social assistance to help them overcome their internal problems.  

Complete inaccessibility of social infrastructure institutions due to their architectural design makes the use of high-quality services totally impossible for women with disabilities.[30]

Therefore, one can conclude that the state policy aimed at ensuring rights of women with disabilities and their inclusion into the social life is non-existent in Ukraine. Women with disabilities are discriminated on the grounds of their disability and gender. 

Right of access to information for persons with disabilities

The legislation in force guarantees access to information for persons with disabilities. Meanwhile practical implementaion of this right, including provisions of Article 21 of the Convention, reveals a number of essential faults. The issues of access to information for persons with disabilities has not been studied at the state level. Only some aspects have been analyzed. For example, the amount of air-time with subtitling and sign-language interpretation within the system of National TB Company under the state order is calculated.  

Specifically, the Ukrainian Association of the Deaf carried out a study on criteria and forms of sign-language use. Learning and information Center of the Ukrainian Association of the Blind together with the National Assembly of the Disabled of Ukraine analyzed the availability of web-pages of the central bodies of executive power and other official bodies as well as international NGOs.[31] The analysis’ results lead to the conclusion that web-pages of the central bodies of executive power and other official bodies, local self-govenments are only partially available for the sightless people. It means that this group of population is not properly informed about normative regulations and delivery of public and administrative services.  

According to data collected by the Ukrainian Association of the Blind in 2011 periodical publications in Braille started in October 2011 (i.e. the issues published between January and October 2011); over the year 2011 readers got no books in e-format, due to the insufficient funding and lack of mechanisms for replicating this literature (absence of copy-right legislation with regards to audio-books on CDs or digital carriers).   

Under the data of State Committee for TV and radio broadcasting in 2010 state TV companies customized programs for the people with impaired hearing at total scope of 5460 hours per year, which means only 30 minutes a day.  While the dubbing and captioning in the national language is obligatory for foreign movies distributed in Ukraine (the Ministry of Culture data; Law of Ukraine “On Cinematography”), there is no similar requirement towards the movies or entertainment shows made in Ukraine.  

According to the data collected by National Assembly of the Disabled of Ukraine persons with intellectual deficiency and mental health problems suffer most from lack of available information. The “simplified reading” method appropriate for this category is at the initial implementation stage and only non-governmental organizations promote it.[32]

Braille’s alphabet is used only partially in mass media and other publications in relief-dotted font. The dissemination of official information by means of radio broadcasting is a positive factor; nevertheless, just one channel of information is not enough to ensure complete availability of information concerning public services.

Right of persons with disabilities to participate in political and public life  

Under the Constitution of Ukraine persons with disabilities should have the opportunity to freely elect and be elected. The right to “freely elect” in practice means that a voter is a full-fledge participant in the election process. The laws, however, do not contain compulsory requirement concerning accessibility of election facilities and materials, as well as the verification and amendments of voters’ lists. Persons with disabilities are practically deprived of opportunity to actively participate at this stage of election process.

Under the Resolution of the Central Election Board №5 of January  19, 2012 the ballot should take place in special premises, adequately equipped and located, as a rule, at the ground floors of the buildings with ramps, free entrance and exit.  This provision, however, was disregarded in preparations to the elections to the Supreme Rada of Ukraine in 2012, and, therefore, remains a mere declaration. Usually polling stations are located at schools, other educational establishments which are inaccessible, due to their architectural design, for people with limited mobility, including persons with disabilities.    

The principles of reasonable adjustments and concept of universal design enabling equal access in compliance with Article 2 of the Convention are ignored. It violates the rights and human dignity of persons with disabilities as well as the principles of non-discrimination and equal opportunities.

The Ukrainian Law stipulates that pre-election campaigns can be carried out in any forms and by any means which do not contradict the Constitution of Ukraine and Ukrainian laws.[33] Organization of public events is one of the forms of the pre-election campaign. The legislation stipulates that executive bodies and local self-government bodies shall provide the premises “appropriate for public events” within pre-election campaigns[34]. As the accessibility (architectural) is not one of the criteria of “appropriateness” for public events, the persons with disabilities are deprived of the possibility to participate in the said pre-election public events.

The legislation stipulates that materials related to pre-election campaigns, e.g. information posters, are printed at the costs of state budget Ukraine allocated for the elections, and also from the candidates’, political parties’ and blocks’(subjects of the election process) funds.[35] The Central (territorial) election board ensures the printing of information posters of the the candidates, political parties and blocks, registered with the respective election board, using the funds from the state budget of Ukraine. The posters should be uniform in their format, size and printing techniques, established by a respective election board. They should be placed in the polling station premises.[36] This practice of the uniform presentation of the candidates, political parties and blocks in printed materials, covered by the budgetary funding, is aimed at ensuring complete equality of all the participants in pre-election campaign. However, there are no provisions enabling persons with impaired vision familiarization with pre-election information.

Within the framework of election campaign of 2012 in Volynoblasta programYour choicewas offered to the electorate. It revealed that special needs of different groups of population can be used to falsify the ballot results. In particular, one of the speakers said in the program:”I can talk about the voting rights of persons with disabilities. They are facing serious problems as far as access to information goes, and, specifically, in their familiarization with current legislation. Lamentably, this problem is addressed chiefly by the organizations of the disabled, who publish legal and normative/regulatory documents, thus guaranteeing observance of voting rights for the persons with disabilities.

As of today the documents in this format are scarce. Only the Law “On Elections of People’s Deputies of Ukraine” is available in Braille script. The information published by the political parties is also hardly available.  Does it mean that not a single political party is making its program public in Braille script? Lamentably, yes.

A sightless person cannot read the information offered at the polling stations. Now, let’s have a look at the voting procedure at the voters’ place of residence. The preparation of the Alternative Report to the UN Committee made it evident that the majority of complaints with regards to the violation or restriction of voting right, relates to the voting at the voter’s domicile and to the voting by persons with disabilities.  To ensure ballot for the sightless persons the authorized assistants helped them through the recent election campaigns. Again, here the danger of violation of confidence arises, but the blind always come to the polling stations with their family members. Availability of special forms and documents in Braille script still poses a problem[37]

According to the NADU, not a single law states the requirements concerning equal access to mass media election campaign for the persons with disabilities, in particular, with hearing impairments, by way of obligatory subtitling and sign-language interpretation of election campaign TV programs.  

The special voting procedure so far remains the only guaranteed and efficient mechanism within the reach of persons with disabilities in Ukraine.   

As to the ballots, the Central Election Board prints them out in Braille script for the use of sightless voters only for the elections of the people-s deputies of Ukraine, in the amount of two Braille ballots per polling station. For special polling stations such ballots can be printed out on the request of the circuit election board.[38] Unfortunately this provision exists on paper only –it was not implemented in 2012 elections to the Supreme Rada of Ukraine.

In spite of constitutional guarantees ensuring every citizen’s participation in state governance, the election and public service laws in force do not provide any mechanism enabling such participation for persons with disabilities. The current Law of Ukraine “On Public Service”, passed in 1993 by no means is aimed at ensuring constitutional guarantees. Moreover, principles and procedures, stipulated by the Law are contrary to the democratic principles of public administration and public service.  

Recommendations

-          Ensuring implementation of the National Action Plan for realization of the Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities (including sufficient funding).

-          Devising and adopting necessary amendments aimed at bringing the legislation into compliance with the requirements of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It is expedient to enforce practical mechanisms for the implementation of the main standards in the protection of the disabled rights.   .

-          Accelerating the passing of the Law of Ukraine “On compulsory state social medical insurance” with the goal of enhancing accessibility of health care services for persons with disabilities. Introducing counseling for women with disabilities and families bringing up girls with disabilities on the issues addressing disability and reproductive health. Providing for architectural accessibility of the counseling centers, specifically, for women with loco-motor problems, impaired hearing or vision.

-          Amendments of Constitutional legislation of Ukraine is called for, as the terms “equality” and “non-discrimination” used in the law with regards to the disabled are not equivalent and differ substantially in their essential meaning.   

-          Undertaking appropriate steps (under the auspices of the Ministry of Health) envisaging incentives, including the financial ones, for psycho-social and rehabilitation treatment for the persons with mental disorders.   

-          Promoting the system of the inclusive education, including upgrading of the educators, identifying sources and volumes of the needed state funding. Ensuring publications of learning manuals for the children with impaired vision or hearing and with mental disorders. Engaging persons with disabilities as educators.  

-          Ensuring adherence to the principles of accessibility, universal design and reasonable adjustments, taking into account individual needs in the educational establishments.  

-          Offering special training and upgrading for educators on the issues of disability, inclusive learning, support for children with disabilities, creating environment without barriers in the educational establishments.  

-          Introducing monitoring and control system for inclusive education; making monitoring results public.

-          Engaging public organizations of persons with disabilities into decision-making with respect to the right to education.   

-          Implementing the requirements of the Ukrainian Law, which stipulate development of individual rehabilitation programs for every person with disability. 

-          Devising efficient mechanism for supplying technical rehabilitation means and medical devices for the persons with disabilities or money reimbursement if these means and devices are purchased by the disabled themselves.   This mechanism should be based on the principles of target assistance, feasibility and efficiency.  

-          Ensuring the exercising of right to work by persons with disabilities. In particular, setting up the institute of professional assistants who would accompany disabled persons in the course of their professional operation.   

-          Promoting deinstitutionalization and autonomous living in the community with complex support for the persons with disabilities, who need permanent care and assistance, eventually decreasing the number of specialized institutions and replacing them with assisted living complexes for 8-16 disabled persons within communities 

-          Eventual reforming of care and guardianship system for people who are not aware of their actions and respective consequences; removing restrictions in economic, proprietary, political and other rights of the aforementioned persons, including those enumerated in the Article 32 of the Law of Ukraine “on the Basics of social protection of the disabled in Ukraine”.   

-          Introducing the system of the supported decision-making, with services of the qualified assistants for persons with disabilities, who are not aware of their actions and respective consequences.

-          On the basis of Article 29 of the Convention introducing changes into the law in force with the aim of discrimination eliminating and creating conditions under which persons with disabilities will be able to fully participate in the political and social life.    

-          Introducing control over the abidance with law in force ensuring non-discrimination of persons with disabilities in the election process.   

-          Introducing universal design principles to ensure access to all the areas of political and social life for persons with disabilities.    

-          Organizing training for the officials in charge of the elections and monitoring at the polling stations on the issues of disability, communications with persons with various nosologies, appropriate equipment, information access etc.

-          Amending Law of Ukraine on gender issues with due consideration to the needs of persons with disabilities. 

-          Compiling national report on realization and protection of the rights of disabled women in Ukraine, and their integration in the society. The organizations of the disabled people should actively participate in the compilation of the report.

-          Introducing public monitoring of the state of women and girls with mental and developmental disorders residing in the public care institutions.  

-          Ensuring protection against violence for women with disabilities in the mental hospitals and other institutionalized establishments.

-          Providing high quality health care services for women with disabilities, in accordance with their individual needs in this area. Organizing training for medical services providers on the issues of disabled women needs and communication ethics.

-          Promoting positive image of women with disabilities in mass media.

-          Ensuring active involvement of women with disabilities’ emploeyment in education, social work and health care. 

-          Amending legislation in force in compliance with the Convention standards with regards to accessibility of information for persons with disabilities. 

-          Introducing efficient control over the implementation of current law and Article 21 of the Convention concerning the accessibility of information for persons with disabilities - Obliging central and local bodies of power to use methods and formats which make information accessible for persons with disabilities, customizing information products and information concerning availability of public services.    

-          Using administrative and incentive levers through dialogue and social responsibility of private sector in disseminating information in formats and means accessible for persons with disabilities.    

-          Using incentives for the broadening of audio-books market, supporting publications in Braille alphabet, customizing the information according to “simplified reading” methods in cultural and educational centers.

-          With the participation of the disabled’ NGOs introducing standards as to the forms, criteria and time for subtitling and sign-language interpretation of the programs (news blocks, official information, programs for children and young adults, legal and health care information) both for public and commercial TV broadcasters; promoting ( be means of positive incentives, among others) adaptation of paper publications for e-format to make them available for sightless persons. 

-          Introducing new technologies aimed at ensuring self-sufficiency and independence of persons with disabilities in their access to information.   

-          Promoting universal design principles in the new information and communication technologies.  

 

[1] Prepared by L.Bayda, NADU and M.Shcherbatyuk, UHGHR

[2] On December16, 2009 the Supreme Rada of Ukraine ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities by the Law of Ukraine № 1767-VI of 16.12.2009. The General UN Assembly adopted the English title of the document  «Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities». In Ukrainian translation and SR ratification process the official title “Convention on the Rights  of the  Disabled “ was used. The word “persons’ was omitted.

[3] Alternative Report to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was prepared by the Expert Board of the NGOs with the goal of collecting and summarizing objective information concerning realization and guarantees of the rights of persons with disability in Ukraine following the Convention ratification.

[4] Program approved by the Cabinet of Ministers’ of Ukraine Resolution № 706 of August 1, 2012.

[5] Sources: Sites of the Cabinet of Ministers’ of Ukraine, Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Regional Development, Construction and housing and Communal Services of Ukraine; oblast’ state administrations’ sites. Source: NADU.  

[6] National Report on measures aimed at the implementation of Ukraine’s commitments under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. К-2012г.

[7] Source: Law of Ukraine “On Amending some laws of Ukraine concerning the disabled rights” N 4213-VI of  22.12. 2011 http://zakon2.rada.gov.ua/laws/show/4213-17

[8] Source: Law of Ukraine “On Basics of Social Protection for the Disabled in Ukraine”, art. 23. http://zakon1.rada.gov.ua/laws/show/875-12

[9]Court against the discrimination of the disabled or how the state takes care of the persons with impaired hearing. http://i-law.kiev.ua/?p=335

[10] Source: National report on human development 2011. Ukraine on its way towards social integration. Independent publication of UNDP in Ukraine, prepared in close collaboration with local and international experts.

[11] Source: http://zakon1.rada.gov.ua/laws/show/875-12 The discounted tickets are available for the disabled in Ukraine between October 1 and May 15 of a given year – 50% of regular price.

[12] Source: http://life.pravda.com.ua/society/2011/04/20/77652/view_print/

[13] Source: http://khpg.org/index.php?id=1282858839

[14] Source: Моніторинг дотримання прав осіб з психічними порушеннями, ВГОІ «ЮЗЕР», 2010р

[15] Source: http://dsmsu.gov.ua/index/ua/material/7106

[16] “Lost rights” Alternative Report to the UN Committee on Rights of Persons with Disabilities,  К-2012.

[17] Source: Monitoring of objects designated for public use, NADU, 2011.

[18] Constitution of Ukraine.-К.:presa Ukrainy, 1997.

[19] Law of Ukraine “On preschool education//Supreme Rada of Ukraine Bulletin, 2001, №49.

Law of Ukraine “On comprehensive secondary education “ // Supreme Rada of Ukraine Bulletin, №28.

Law of Ukraine “On vocational education:, Supreme Rada of Ukraine Bulletin 1998, №32.

Law of Ukraine “On higher education”// Supreme Rada of Ukraine Bulletin 2002, №20

Law of Ukraine “On childhood protection”// Supreme Rada of Ukraine Bulletin, 2001, №30.

Law of Ukraine “On Basics of social protection for the disabled in Ukraine”// Supreme Rada of Ukraine Bulletin, 1991, №21.

[20]  Source: Ukrainian-Canadian project “Inclusive education for children with special needs in Ukraine”.

[21]Source: http://iitzo.gov.ua/monitoryng_v_osviti.html ; http://mon.gov.ua/

[22] Source: National report on human development 2011. Ukraine on its way towards social integration. Independent publication of UNDP in Ukraine, prepared in close collaboration with local and international experts.

[23]  Source: http://static.rada.gov.ua/zakon/new/par_sl/sl1403112.htm

[24] Source: Ukrainian-Canadian project “Inclusive education for children with special needs in Ukraine”. Monitoring of the stages of inclusive education implementation, NADU, VF, Canadian Center for Disabled Studies,К., 2010.

[25]  Source: http://zakon2.rada.gov.ua/laws/show/2866-15

[26]  Source: http://zakon1.rada.gov.ua/laws/show/2789-14

[27] Source: UPR, Report of the Ukraine Coalition of Organizations of People with Disabilities (UCOPD), 2012

[28]Source: “AMI-SKhID” NGO Resolution of all-Ukrainian seminar “Women with disabilities- myths and reality”, Luhansk, 01.10.2012

[29] Source: “AMI-SKhID” NGO Resolution of all-Ukrainian seminar “Women with disabilities- myths and reality”, Luhansk, 01.10.2012

[30] Source: “AMI-SKhID” NGO Resolution of all-Ukrainian seminar “Women with disabilities- myths and reality”, Luhansk, 01.10.2012 .

[31]  Source: monitoring of access to information, К-2010.

[32] Source UPR, Report of the Ukraine Coalition of Organizations of People with Disabilities (UCOPD), 2012

[33] Part 1 Article 58 of the  Law of Ukraine “On elections of the President of Ukraine”, part 1, Article 66 of the  Law of Ukraine “On elections of the people’s deputies of Ukraine”, part 3 Article 50 of the  Law of Ukraine ”On elections of the deputies to the Supreme Council of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, local councils and the heads of village, settlements and city councils”.   

[34] Part 6 Article 58 of the  Law of Ukraine “On elections of the President of Ukraine”, part 8, Article 66  of the  Law of Ukraine “On elections of the people’s deputies of Ukraine”, part 2 Article 51 of the  Law of Ukraine ”On elections of the deputies to the Supreme Council of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, local councils and the heads of village, settlements and city councils”.   

[35] Article 59 of the Law of Ukraine “On elections of the President of Ukraine”, Article 67 of the  Law of Ukraine “On elections of the people’s deputies of Ukraine”, Article 52 of the  Law of Ukraine ”On elections of the deputies to the Supreme Council of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, local councils and the heads of village, settlements and city councils”.   

[36] Part 1,3 Article 59 of the  Law of Ukraine “On elections of the President of Ukraine”, part 1,3 Article 67 of the  Law of Ukraine “On elections of the people’s deputies of Ukraine”, part 1,2 Article 52 of the  Law of Ukraine ”On elections of the deputies to the Supreme Council of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, local councils and the heads of village, settlements and city councils”.   

[37] Source: “Your Choice” program 27.09.2012р. http://volynpressclub.org.ua/

[38] Part 6 Article 83 of the  Law of Ukraine “On elections of the people’s deputies of Ukraine”.

 

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