I am delighted to welcome you to these pages on the Council of Europe website, which are exclusively devoted to the integration of people with disabilities.
It has been estimated that, on average, 10 per cent of the world population have a disability. For the nearly 800 million population of the 46 Council of Europe member States that would mean some 80 million persons with disabilities.
Despite the progress made in recent years in numerous areas, many people with disabilities in Europe today are still faced with barriers to equal opportunities and full participation in the life of the community, such as low levels of education and vocational training; high unemployment rates; low income; obstacles in the built environment; social exclusion; intolerance, clichés and stereotypes; direct or indirect discrimination; violence, ill-treatment and abuse.
What is the Council of Europe, the pan-European organisation for the protection and promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms in everyday life, doing for the integration of people with disabilities?
Human dignity, full citizenship, independent living and active participation in the life of the community form the heart of the Council of Europe’s activities for the integration of people with disabilities. The overall objective is to promote social cohesion in Europe by reconciling the principles of equal rights for all individuals and the concept of special needs.
The 1992 landmark Recommendation No. R (92) 6 on A coherent policy for people with disabilities, , contains policy principles for the rehabilitation and integration of people with disabilities. This model programme recommends that governments of all member Sates develop comprehensive and co-ordinated national disability policies taking account of all successive stages in the integration process and all areas of community life, such as prevention, diagnosis, treatment, education, vocational guidance and training, employment, social integration, information and research.
The Recommendation has set benchmarks both internationally and nationally, thus prompting numerous amendments to legislation in the member States.
It is available in most European languages, including those of central and eastern Europe.
The Recommendation is complemented by a regularly updated report on policy and legislation, i.e. a compendium of current policy measures and national legislative texts on the rehabilitation and integration of people with disabilities, which helps to identify achievements as well as shortcomings of national disability policies. The current 7th edition (2003) contains information from 16 States.
The 1995 Charter on the vocational assessment of people with disabilities (Resolution Res AP (95) 3) calls for a shift in focus: away from disabilities towards abilities. The person’s vocational capacities should be assessed and related to specific job requirements. The Charter also advocates the right of every person with a disability to active participation in the assessment process.
The assessment of vocational capacities promoted in the Charter is based on the International Classification of Impairments, Disabilities and Handicaps (ICIDH), published by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 1980.
Current activities include the following issues:
Access to social Rights
Community living for children with disabilities
Norwegian Presidency Conference Strasbourg 2004
Spinal Cord Injury
UN Ad Hoc Committee
Violence and Abuse
Women with disabilities
Tailor-made programmes for Central and Eastern European Countries ("Assistance Activities"), including member and non-member States of the Council of Europe, take account of their specific requirements.
The Council of Europe has worked – and will continue to do so – for equal opportunities and the empowerment of people with disabilities by actively involving them in the decision-making process at pan-European level. To that end international non-governmental organisations of and for people with disabilities are regularly invited to hearings and/or to comment on draft texts within written consultation procedures.
I very much hope that these web pages cater for all your information needs. However, if you would like to study the results of our activities in more detail, I have pleasure in inviting you to consult our Publications, our Recommendations and Resolutions. If you have any further questions or comments which you would like to discuss on a more personal basis please do not hesitate to contact us.
Mrs Vera BOLTHO
Head of the Department of Health
and of the Partial Agreement in the Social and Public Health Field