DISCIT project: Active participation in future disability policies

9 November 2017

From 2013 to 2016 DISCIT project examined how active participation of persons with disabilities in society and the economy can be achieved. The project aimed to produce new knowledge that would enable the European Union (EU), its Members States and affiliated European countries to make this right a reality for their people with disabilities, in line with the the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD).

On 9 November 2017, researchers, organisations of persons with disabilities and policy makers gathered in Oslo, Norway, to discuss the implications of the findings of the DISCIT project for future disability policies.

The DISCIT findings demonstrate significant differences in disability policies between the EU Member States. Those differences offer the ground for more policy learning among different countries. The findings also demonstrate that to achieve more active citizenship of persons with disabilities, the EU needs to stimulate Member States and associated States to recalibrate their disability policies.

The findings indicate that:

  • in many European countries, the disability-related social security systems do not help people to get out of poverty; they may sometimes even place people in poverty traps;
  • most European countries have still a lot to do in improving the availability and quality of community based services, preventing institutionalisation and enabling independent living and full participation in society on an equal basis with others. The situation is even harder for persons with multiple or severe disabilities;
  • the implementation of the Employment Equality Directive at the national level is often weak and unsystematic;
  • some European countries could offer wage subsidies and/or reimbursement of employers’ costs relating to ensuring reasonable accommodation to a greater extent;
  • existing national policies are insufficient and too fragmented to ensure accessibility for all;
  • all European countries need to do more to implement the CRPD that they have ratified, and involve organisations of persons with disabilities in identifying and planning the most urgent next steps. The commitments that these countries have under the CRPD have not yet been fulfilled.

The findings and policy recommendations of the DISCIT project are useful to take into consideration in all EU initiatives aiming to strengthen social rights such as:

  • the European Pillar of Social Rights,
  • the negotiations about the European Accessibility Act,
  • the implementation of the Web Accessibility Directive,
  • the revision of the European Disability Strategy and
  • the coming review of the operation of the European Structural and Investment Funds.

As Bjørn Hvinden, Coordinator of the DISCIT project, explains:

“DISCIT has demonstrated how the concept of active citizenship may help policy makers in the EU and Member States to specify the meaning of ‘full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others’ in line with the CRPD.”

According to Rune Halvorsen, co-Editor and co-Organiser of DISCIT:

“Involving persons with disabilities and their representative organisations in making the political priorities, designing and evaluating the disability policy objectives and measures is essential. Policy makers should give particular attention to the opportunities for choice, autonomy and influence for persons with intellectual disabilities and persons with mental health problems.”

EDF New Technologies & Innovation Officer, Alejandro Moledo, added:

“It is essential that the future EU funded projects on disability issues follow DISCIT example on incorporating the Human Rights based approach, and facilitates the involvement of persons with disabilities and their representative organisations.”

More information about the seminar is available heree Find all publications, reports and policy briefings of the DISCIT project here Watch a video about active citizenship and the DISCIT project here

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