Innovative Policies 2014 – Key Findings

POLICIES FOR ALL ASPECTS OF UN CRPD ARTICLE 9

Innovative Policies regard all aspects of Article 9 of the CRPD:
• Physical environment
• Transportation
• Information and communication
• Facilities and services

Increasingly, accessibility is addressed in all its complexity.  [OHCHR, 2013] More and more countries enact comprehensive approaches such as non-discrimination laws mandating accessibility for several or all aspects of CRPD Article 9, as did Norway in 2008. Policies are specifically tackling the access to, and accessibility of, information and communication as well as products and services, as do for example the Irish Standard for Energy Suppliers and Qatar’s eAccessibility Policy. Several policies extend their reach beyond a single aspect of CRPD Article 9, encompassing, for example, transportation and information, as is the case with the Indonesian Standard.

Image from the toolkit for SWiFT 9:2012 Universal Design for Energy Suppliers © CEUD/NDA

Innovative Policy 2014 from Ireland: The Standard SWiFT 9:2012 provides guidance to companies on how to make their services accessible to all. © CEUD/NDA

CATEGORIES OF SELECTED INNOVATIVE POLICIES
Laws:India, Norway, and Qatar
Action plansAustralia, Cape Town/South Africa, Colombia, Kuala Lumpur/Malaysia, and London/UK
ProgrammesHong Kong/China, Japan, and Spain
StandardsBerlin/Germany, Ireland, Solo/Indonesia, and Uganda

POLICIES FOR ALL GOVERNMENT LEVELS

Innovative Policies 2014 concern all government levels, from the local, city level (Cape Town) to the regional (Berlin State), up to the national level (India).

FOR PERSONS WITH ALL TYPES OF DISABILITIES

Most Innovative Policies pay attention to the universal design approach. Norway’s non-discrimination law, for example, promotes a strict application of the universal design. Many policies implement measures that benefit not only those with physical disabilities, but also people who are sight or hearing impaired. However, few tackle the exclusion of people who use easy language and persons with psychosocial problems (Ireland).

POLICIES ENGAGING EVERYONE IN SOCIETY

Accessibility is a pre-condition for independent living. This applies to persons with disabilities as well as the 737 million persons aged 60 and over. [UN DESA, 2013] However, accessibility is still being primarily perceived as a matter of exclusive benefit to persons with disabilities. More policies need to communicate that accessibility should be of interest to everyone. Japan’s policy incentivises all individuals to invest in accessible private housing, and thus attempts to break down the exclusive association between accessibility and disability.

POLICIES FOR LOW-INCOME COUNTRIES

As most people with disabilities live in the Global South, policy solutions for low-income contexts are needed. Increasingly, these countries are developing minimum accessibility standards that, as in Uganda, contain context-specific guidance, for example on accessible water wells. In the field of transport, enforceable standards (Solo city/Indonesia) and action plans (Cape Town/South Africa) can mainstream universal design in transport services. A strategic approach with priorities can make the most of limited resources. For example, Colombia’s Plan Vive Digital creates Internet access for rural populations, whilst implementing specific measures to overcome the digital exclusion of people with disabilities. There is a need for non-bureaucratic approaches (India), as well as support and pressure from foreign aid and investment bodies to help national responses to accessibility issues.

Innovative Policy 2014 from Australia: By improving the reach and effectiveness of its development assistance, Australia ensured that people with disabilities are included. Here a ramp linking separate school buildings in Tangerang, Banten, Indonesia. © Maria Siahaan, AusAID

Innovative Policy 2014 from Australia: By improving the reach and effectiveness of its development assistance, Australia ensured that people with disabilities are included. © Maria Siahaan, AusAID

Innovative Policy 2014 from Colombia: The internet-strategy Plan Vive Digital promotes inclusive and participatory digital accessible environments. © MINTIC 2013

Innovative Policy 2014 from Colombia: The internet-strategy Plan Vive Digital promotes inclusive and participatory digital accessible environments. © MINTIC 2013

MAINSTREAMING DISABILITY INTO DEVELOPMENT

Too many development programmes and projects are disability-specific. [OHCHR, 2011] Australia developed a strategy that mainstreams disability into development cooperation. The Development for All: Towards a Disability-inclusive Australian Aid Program improved the reach and effectiveness of development assistance by ensuring that people with disabilities are included in, contribute to, and benefit equally from development efforts.

DEVELOPING POLICIES

WHO ARE DRIVERS OF LEGISLATIVE CHANGE?

Most Innovative Policies were developed by public authorities. However, additional organisations drive legislative action. Notably, three of the policies were the direct result of lobbying by DPOs: from India, Uganda and Solo/Indonesia. One policy originated from a Centre for Universal Design (Ireland), another is the consequence of a report of the Equal Opportunities Commission (Hong Kong/China). The public-private partnership in Spain was established as the result of an initiative from Europe’s most active foundation in this field.

CONSULTING WITH PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES

When developing accessibility policies, it is important that policymakers engage accessibility experts and consult with all stakeholders, in particular persons with disabilities. For all Innovative Policies, except Japan’s policy, persons with disabilities were consulted. Disabled people’s organisations (DPOs) played a particularly prominent role in drafting the policies from Berlin/Germany, Ireland and Australia.

INVOLVING THE PRIVATE SECTOR

Even though both public authorities and private enterprises must offer accessible products and services [OHCHR, 2013], few policies engage the private sector. The Irish Standard was specifically designed with, and for, energy suppliers to improve their customer communications and decrease costs.

IMPLEMENTING POLICIES

INVOLVING PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES

Levels of implementation of accessibility laws in many countries remain low due to a variety of obstacles. [OHCHR 2013, WHO/WB 2011] The involvement of DPOs in the policy’s implementation, beyond the drafting process, is one of the keys to success. In the case of London’s Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012, DPOs trained volunteers. In Berlin State all larger construction project planners have to consult with a permanent Accessible Construction Working Group, including DPOs and Disability Commissioners. Australia made the partnership with DPOs in the Global South a priority; more than 125 of them received funding.

PROVIDING FUNDING

Adequate financial resources should be made available. In particular, retrofitting measures require sufficient funding. Hong Kong invests heavily in making existing premises accessible, thereby achieving measurable and significant results.

ESTABLISHING OPPORTUNITIES FOR COOPERATION

By investing in cooperation among stakeholders, awareness and commitment are raised. Qatar partners successfully with telecom providers, which now offer 50% discount on tariffs for persons with disabilities.

IMPROVING ACCESSIBILITY EXPERTISE

Appropriate training for all relevant stakeholders is needed, as well as professionals that can confidently act as experts in matters of accessibility. Kuala Lumpur/Malaysia held accessibility training workshops. In Spain, the public-private partnership provided technical support to over 120 local authorities. Kuala Lumpur and Berlin require accessibility expertise amongst planners, who are obliged to submit a concept of accessibility. Hong Kong/China established specific Access Coordinators and Access Officers.

Access audit of the alternatives routes from the transportation hub to the headquarters of Kuala Lumpur City Hall © Kuala Lumpur City Hall

Innovative Policy 2014 from Malayisa: Kuala Lumpur’s policy includes comprehensive monitoring and enforcement of accessibility standards, from design to post-construction. © Kuala Lumpur City Hall

ENFORCING POLICIES

MANDATING STANDARDS AND COMPLIANCE

Accessibility Standards and compliance should be mandated by law. [WHO/WB, 2011] Norway established inaccessibility as a case of discrimination and universal design as an enforceable legal standard, whilst referring to sector legislation as well as specific regulations elaborating on the Act itself.

SANCTIONING NON-COMPLIANCE

There should be penalties for non-compliance as well as a mechanism for identifying non-compliance. [WHO/WB, 2011] In Berlin, failure to comply with accessibility standards results in financial penalties or in some cases mandatory building upgrades. For example, the newly built Grimm Centre required a €1 million upgrade. Similar penalties prevail in Kuala Lumpur. To identify non-compliance, accessibility audits can be conducted by DPOs [WHO/WB, 2011], as happens in Uganda.

UNDERTAKING REVIEWS AND INSPECTIONS

Accessibility standards need to be part of building regulations. [WHO/WB, 2011] Access auditors should inspect the construction and have the power to issue a stop-work order, as in Kuala Lumpur/Malaysia. Government funding agencies – including those that fund schools – can review plans as part
of their approval process. [WHO/WB, 2011] Uganda’s Ministry of Education mandated accessibility for all national school construction projects.

MONITORING POLICIES

SETTING UP A MONITORING BODY

An impartial monitoring body can provide periodic independent progress evaluations. [WHO/WB, 2011]

ESTABLISHING OMBUDSMEN

In 2005, the number of countries with ombudsmen, arbitration councils and committees of independent experts was very low. [WHO/WB, 2011] In Norway, monitoring of the policy has been assigned to the Equality and Anti-Discrimination Ombudsman and Tribunal.

Innovative Policy 2014 from Norway: Meeting on the CRPD of the Norwegian Ombudsman with civil society © Eli Knøsen

Innovative Policy 2014 from Norway: Meeting on the CRPD of the Norwegian Ombudsman with civil society © Eli Knøsen

SUPPORT FROM CIVIL SOCIETY

A network of local action organisations is essential for supporting the process. [WHO/WB, 2011] The Ugandan National Association on Physical Disability, the main initiator of Uganda’s Accessibility Standards, recently created a National Accessibility Audit Team in order to monitor implementation.

Accessibility Auditing and Advocacy in Uganda © UNAPD

Innovative Policy 2014 from Uganda: Its Accessibility Standards are already mandatory for all national school construction projects. © UNAPD